Closing remarks by Mr. Jacques Marion in ILC 2021

Distinguished leaders, dear participants,

We are now coming to the close of our International Leadership Conference 2021 on the theme: Toward a Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Creating the Foundation for a Unified World.

Each of the 9 webinars we organized offered a different perspective on this important topic. We had about 50 eminent speakers, and each presentation confirmed the significance of this topic and the need for Europe to engage in the process of peace on the Korean Peninsula and the broader region.

Let me quote here from Italian Senator Pier Ferdinando Casini’s speech given in the Opening Session:

We need to read the signs of the times and understand that the new course we are experiencing in important parts of the world can lead to a peaceful thaw between the two Koreas. The Covid 19 pandemic taught us how strong the interdependence between States is and how necessary it is to implement the concept of solidarity.

This is why it is precisely from the constant commitment of associations, such as the Universal Peace Federation, that a decisive contribution can be made to strengthening the spirit of collaboration between the two Koreas, in the awareness that it will be the most profitable political investment in resolving regional crises and building world peace.

Our first Conference webinar was held on April 26 in cooperation with UPF Japan and addressed the topic of the Japan-Korea Tunnel project announced 40 years ago by our Founders Dr. and Mrs. Moon. This tunnel would be the foundation for a prosperous economic zone in Northeast Asia, which would stimulate mutual prosperity in the rest of the world.

We had prominent experts in transport systems who reported about the practical experiences, benefits and challenges from the Marmaray tunnel linking Asia and Europe in Istanbul and the Eurotunnel linking France and Great Britain.

On April 29, the Opening Session of the 3-day program we conclude today, was opened in in a moving Prayer Call for Peace by two respected religious leaders, one Christian and one Muslim. And we heard very insightful analyses from two prominent political leaders, one of whom I just quoted.

The International Summit Council for Peace session was attended by former heads of state and government from Norway and Belgium, prominent political leaders from Austria, and the foremost Russian expert on East Asia and the Korean Peninsula. The contribution of Europe toward peaceful solutions on the Peninsula was discussed, and significant recommendations were given by these experienced leaders, notably the fact that European nations have a specific potential to engage in fruitful interaction with North Korea.

The Interreligious Association for Peace and Development session was attended by an interfaith and interdisciplinary group of faith leaders, scholars and young peace activists from Switzerland, Slovakia, Bosnia, Great Britain and the United States. They underlined the urgent need for reconciliation of the Korean people, too long and unjustly divided. They addressed the role of spirituality and human rights in this reconciliation process.

The International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace session featured members of parliament from Great Britain, Italy and Russia. They discussed the crucial role which parliamentarians should play in the process of peace in Northeast Asia, in particular the role of Russia as a neighbor to Korea. They emphasized that from their position as representatives of the people, transcending social, political and religious barriers, they need to go beyond national political interests by focusing on the greater cause of peace.

On April 30, we began with the International Media Association for Peace webinar, in which participated Japanese, American and European newspaper leaders and journalists. They addressed the role of the media in our changing era, and its responsibility to go beyond just reporting on conflicts and actively contribute to peacemaking. Interesting reports were given from Japan on the exchange of propaganda between North and South Korea, and we heard about the experience of transition from totalitarianism to democracy in Albania and how it affected the media.

The International Association of First Ladies for Peace featured prominent women leaders from Finland, Lebanon, Russia and Korea, who have been active in high political positions as well as in the United Nations. They addressed the specific role of Women in Peacemaking and Reconciliation Processes. Mrs. Calolyn Handschin, the organizer of the webinar, will give a more detailed report about their interesting discussion.

The newly established International Association of Art and Culture for Peace had its first webinar yesterday, with the participation of artists and culture professionals from Austria, Croatia, Spain, and Ukraine. Each one of them shared their personal experience in either North or South Korea. They testified to the passion for art and culture of the Korean people, which brings Korea onto the world stage today. They discussed the important role which art and culture can play in bringing together the divided Korean people, in particular the young people from both countries.

And our final webinar, organized by the International Association of Academicians for Peace, was of course just held this morning. I think all of you appreciated this interesting and important discussion on the potential development of an Economic Community in Northeast Asia.

I would like now to turn to Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, the coordinator for the International Association of First Ladies for Peace, to give a report on their webinar.

Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, is the Vice President for Europe of Women’s Federation for World Peace International and the Director of its Office for UN Relations.

I must use this opportunity to announce as well that Carolyn has just been elected as President of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW) at the United Nations in Geneva for a period of 3 years from April 2021 to April 2024. The Committee was comprised of twenty-four international NGOs with UN ECOSOC status, and they voted unanimously to elect Mrs. Handschin. So, she deserves a big hand!

[See the video recording of the closing session for Carolyn's intervention.]

I would now like to conclude with an announcement that the official Closing Session of this ILC 2021 will be held on a global level on May 8 – in one week -, together with the 4 other regions that held this International Conference: North and South America, Africa, the Asia Pacific Region, and Japan. It will be followed by the 6th Rally of Hope, where eminent world leaders will address the issue of Peace in Northeast Asia.

We put great emphasis on this Conference, because on the foundation of the ILC 2021, we will be launching on May 8 and 9 an important project called Think Tank 2022, dedicated to the cause of peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

It will consist of experts from our Europe and Middle East Region – several of whom spoke during our webinars - and from the rest of the world, who will form working groups to stimulate a constructive dialogue on the Peninsula.

Representing each area of activity of the UPF Associations – as heads of state, parliamentarians, religious leaders, media professionals, scholars and business leaders, their diversity of expertise can address the problems from different and complementary perspectives.

70 years ago, the world fought in Korea, but left the country divided. Today, it is our Founders conviction that the world needs to come together again and take responsibility to resolve the division of the Korean Peninsula, which is a focus point for the power struggle among the major nations of the world.

You are all warmly invited to attend these upcoming events and we will inform you how to participate.

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