Global Leaders Seek Peace on the Korean Peninsula

Sunhak Peace Prize Laureates Honored for Work in COVID-19 Response

South Korea—The World Summit 2022 (Summit for Peace on the Korean Peninsula) honored a British vaccinologist and a global vaccine alliance with the 5th Sunhak Peace Prize as part of its second day’s activities in South Korea.

The Feb. 11-13 World Summit 2022 has gathered world leaders and a global virtual audience to hear and discuss ways to peacefully conclude the Cold War’s last remaining division—the Korean Peninsula. Some 160 nations are represented at the Summit, including 157 nations with diplomatic ties to one or both of the Koreas.

The Summit is sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Royal Government of Cambodia, hosted by UPF Co-Founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, and co-chaired by Cambodia Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and H.E. Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Friday’s Sunhak Peace Prize Award Ceremony honored Dame Prof. Sarah Catherine Gilbert of Oxford University and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance as the 2022 Laureates. 

Prof. Gilbert explained how she had spent years in vaccinology fighting known diseases but also preparing for a future “Disease X.” On Jan. 1, 2020, when she read an article about a terrible new respiratory sickness in China, she rushed to organize a response. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 was ready for its trials within a few weeks—and today, 2.5 billion doses have been produced for use in 170 countries. Low-income countries pay little to nothing for the vaccines, she said, per an agreement that this vaccine must be available to all people.

Now that there are additional vaccines to fight COVID-19, she said, “we can now look forward to our lives going back to normal.” 

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, explained how his organization coordinated the COVAX Facility to ensure that developing countries could get vaccines as easily as wealthy ones. The goal was “an equal chance for a healthy future,” said Dr. Berkley, adding that COVAX has delivered 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to 144 countries.

H.E. Jose Manuel Barroso, chair of the Sunhak Peace Prize Selection Committee; Hon. Newt Gingrich, US House Speaker (1995-1999); and H.E. Ehud Olmert, Israel Prime Minister (2006-2009), offered congratulatory remarks to the Laureates.

The biennial Sunhak Peace Prize was founded by Dr. Moon in 2013 to honor the legacy of her late husband, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. Laureates are chosen for their extraordinary service to global peace in one of three areas: sustainable human development, conflict resolution or ecological conservation. They receive a medal, plaque and a cash prize.

In 2020, the Founder’s Special Award was added to the Sunhak Peace Prize. This year, the second special award was given to Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, for his decades of efforts to heal Cambodia from its civil war and murderous past, and lift it into prosperity and peace.

“Some may take peace for granted, but those who have lived through war know how precious peace is,” said Mr. Hun Sen.

Many of the day’s speakers talked about the importance of religious freedom and prayer as essential for resolving the division on the Korean Peninsula.

“We know that peace can only be fully achieved through faith,” said Pastor Paula White-Cain, head of the Paula White Ministries and spiritual adviser to former President Donald J. Trump.

“Religious freedom is a building block of peace and security,” said Amb. Callista Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (2017-2021), who noted that 80% of the world’s population still lives in nations, including China, Russia and North Korea, where religious freedom is “highly or severely restricted.”

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Canada Prime Minister (2006-2015) said he viewed religious freedom as so vital to peace and national stability, he established an Office of Religious Freedom during his time in office.

Others stressed the unity of humanity to effect change. “One person’s prayer may be a dream, but the prayers of millions become a vision,” said Prophet Samuel Radebe, founder and leader of The Revelation Spiritual Home in South Africa. Without the Creator, he added, “the problems of this world cannot be solved.”

South Korean leaders Hon. Hyung Suk Kim, former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Unification, and Hon. Shim Jae Kwon, chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee (2012-2016), were among those recounting the frustrating history of peace talks in Korea.

Negotiations in Pyongyang with North Koreans were “difficult” and “disappointing,” said Hon. Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State (2018-2021). We believed there was a “tangible opportunity to create peace,” he said, but “sadly, we didn’t get all the way.”

Hon. Mark Esper, US Secretary of Defense (2019-2020), offered several proactive steps to take, such as deepening relations among the US, South Korea and Japan, and “engaging China together.” These kinds of bonds can be expanded to many other countries, such as Europe, India and island countries in Asia, he said.  

Others pointed to reunification examples in Germany and Vietnam, which took different paths to resolve their divided nations. “Vietnam now has a bubbling economy” and Germany’s economic successes are well known, said H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka President (2015-2019). 

“We need new imagination,” said H.E. Suos Yara, chairman of Cambodia’s Commission of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Diplomatic topics could include getting a Korean peace treaty signed as soon as possible; converting the DMZ to a place of peace and free-trade zone; and investing more in cultural cooperation, given the warm inter-Korean experiences in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

“Leaders need to sit down with their adversaries and say, ‘What can we do to work this out?’” said Hon. Dan Burton, who served three decades in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Other Feb. 12 speakers included H.E. Jimmy Morales, Guatemala President (2016-2020); Dr. Michael Jenkins, UPF President; H.E. Rosalia Arteaga Serrano, Ecuador President (1997); Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, Regional Chair, UPF-Asia-Pacific; H.E. Gloria Arroyo, Philippines President (2001-2010); H.E. Ing Kantha Phavi, Cambodia Minister of Women’s Affairs, who brought greetings from Cambodian First Lady Bun Rany; Madam Adi Koila Nailatikua, First Lady of Fiji (2009-2015); Hon. Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Pakistan Defense Committee; H. E. Lord Fatefehi Fakafanua, Tonga Speaker of the Legislative Assembly; Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa, First Lady of Sri Lanka (2005-2015); Dr. Tageldin Hamad, UPF Vice President; Dame Patience Jonathan, Nigeria First Lady (2010-2015); H.E. Eugene Aka Aouele, representing Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara; H.E. Mohamed El Baradei, Egypt Vice President (2013) and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; H.E. Kwassi Klutse, Togo Prime Minister (1996-1999); Hon. Nevers Mumba, Zambia Vice President (2003-2004); H.E. Delfim das Neves, Sao Tome and Principe President of the National Assembly; Sheikh Mansour Diouf,  Representative of the Grand Khalif of the Murid brotherhood in Yoff, Ouakam et Ngor, Dakar; and H.E. Monica Chakwera, First Lady of Malawi. The Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet were among the day’s performers.

Further reports coming.

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