Welcome ladies and gentlemen! It is an honor and a privilege to participate in today’s program on “The Emerging Power of Women’s Diplomacy towards Sustainable Peace: Sharing Global Experiences to Support Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.”
I want to thank the leadership of the UPF in Europe and the Middle East, Dr. Otsuka and Mr. Jacques Marion, for organizing this series of International Leadership Conferences that bring together experts from around the world to collaborate in a search for peace on the Korean peninsula.
I also thank the wonderful leaders and members of the WFWP here in Europe. You never fail to uplift and inspire me with your great work. I would also like to offer a congratulatory applause to Mrs. Carolyn Handschin on her elected victory as President of the UN NGO CSW Geneva and her lifetime of amazing work as the leader and President of WFWP Europe.
In this ILC series, all the primary associations of the UPF, across all sectors of society---government, religion, academia, the media, business and the arts---are engaged in offering their wisdom and insight in this effort to open a path to peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, in Asia and the world. This particular session of the ILC is convened by the International Association of First Ladies for Peace (IAFLP), which works together with the current and former heads of state of UPF’s International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP). I would like to thank H.E. Anneli Jäätteenmäki, our moderator, who was present at the inauguration, and an astounding role model for women and peace. WFWP is working in partnership with UPF to advance the work of the IAFLP, drawing on the wisdom, insight and experience of First Ladies. I am deeply honored to welcome our speaker, H.E. . Mme Naela Moawad, former First Lady of Lebanon, whose life and legacy continues her late husband’s work and their tireless passion for peace. As minister of Social Development and as a member of Parliament, she has led with a true mother’s heart that gives everything for the sake of her family, country and the world. I also welcome all the other women leaders on this panel and all the ones who tirelessly work behind the scenes. We all salute you for your great work for peace! H.E. Mme. Nehzia Labidi, I look forward to learning more about your great work as a diplomat, politician, activist and long experience in NGO life. Mme Koaloud Kassem, your heart and passion to engage women in leadership roles is very exemplary and inspiring. Thank you. Together we have achieved great strides forward in realizing this dream of peace. As women united together, our work can make an enormous contribution to the greater work for peace and human development around the world, and for all life on earth and for the security and future of our planet.
Our topic today is extremely important, for it underscores the importance of the role of non-governmental actors, or non-state actors in the search for peace. While the role and significance of governments are undeniable, these “Track One” approaches to peace may be and need to be supplemented by the “Track Two” approaches that involve people to people interaction. In this latter effort, the role of NGOs, FBOs, humanitarian organizations, social entrepreneurs, and of course women is absolutely essential. That is why our meeting today is of such great importance.
Since the time of the Korean War, 70 plus years ago, the peninsula has been locked in conflict and division. In many respects, the Korean peninsula, or more accurately the Korean people themselves, are victims of the wider geopolitical context. Initially, this was manifested in the wider global conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. While there was hope for peace at the end of the Cold War, we seem to have drifted into a new Cold War, this time between the two major superpowers of the 21st century, China and the USA. In other words, the Korean conflict in many ways is embedded in a larger global, geopolitical context. As long as the superpowers are locked in competition, it is not easy to open a path to peace.
All the more reason for us to explore the potential of non-state actors, and women in particular.
When I think of Korea and of women, I cannot help but think of my beloved Mother, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. She was born in the DPRK, and as a very young girl, as the Korean War conflict was arising, she and her mother fled to the South as refugees. She was driven by a spiritual vision, and she knew it could not be fulfilled in a land that had no religious freedom and human rights for its citizens.
She, together with my father, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, have worked their entire lives to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. Recently, my mother asked UPF, and WFWP, to give full attention to the situation on the Korean peninsula.
As leaders and champions of Track Two diplomacy, my parents went to the DPRK in 1991, 30 years ago. They met then chairman Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the DPRK’s current ruler, Kim Jong Eun. At that time, my parents shared with Chairman Kim the need for reconciliation, and called for the DPRK to open up culturally, economically and politically.
Following that meeting, they took immediate action and initiated a variety of peace efforts, opening an automobile company in Pyongyang, and a hotel. They began developing tourism, so that the people of South Korea could visit and meet with their long-divided family members in the North and build bonds of heart, common ancestry and mutual trust between the peoples of the two Koreas. They organized cultural exchanges, for example, sending the Little Angels to the North to perform. In addition, WFWP has directly worked to send humanitarian relief packages to the people of the DPRK.
Later this year, my amazing Mother hopes to convene a World Summit bringing together leaders and experts from around the world, including, hopefully, a delegation from the DPRK, to meet and dialogue together.
My Mother is totally committed to this goal of global peace, and she has and will offer her entire life and resources to bring about peace and to reconcile the heartbreaking divide of her homeland of Korea. That is her deepest hope. It is not merely for the sake of Korea and the Korean people, but because the peninsula represents a tipping point of peace and reconciliation for the world. She sincerely and deeply believes that if we can succeed in solving the division on the Korean peninsula, we can solve the divisions that exist throughout the world. Her vision is to work collectively, as one global family, to mend all the devastations of war, conflict, disparity and to resolve all the problems that contribute to the catastrophic state of our planet, as the climate crisis and Covid-19 cripples the globe. This is why we are all gathered here in this virtual forum to collaborate, contribute, and carry out the dream of securing lasting peace, mutual prosperity and universal values for all life on this glorious earth.
I am so inspired to observe the work of so many courageous, visionary, powerful women leaders, along with great organizations like WFWP and UPF, taking steps for true peace all across the world.
In closing, I want to once again express my deep appreciation to all those who have worked so hard to organize this program today. Your work, our work is so very important. May we vow to realize this vision of a lasting legacy of peace for all life and the earth for generations to come!
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share a few words with you today. I am confident that our work will be pivotal for this collective dream of peace. Thank you for your investment in this great and noble cause.