Conference Report: UPF International Leadership Summit Addresses Korean Reconciliation, Religious Freedom, and New Peace Alliances in Africa and the World
Condolences Expressed for Late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The slideshow shows the UPF Europe and Middle East speakers (in person, by video or video recording) and other participants
Click on the images to enlarge them.
Seoul, Korea—International leaders at the Universal Peace Federation’s (UPF) Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference affirmed their support for global peacebuilding, especially on the Korean Peninsula. Sessions also addressed the universal right to religious freedom and called for more education of youth in Africa, which is emerging as a global power.
More than 1,000 world leaders from the 157 nations with diplomatic relations with either North or South Korea attended the August 11-15, 2022, conference, either in person at the Lotte Hotel World or virtually, to discuss “Toward Peace on the Korean Peninsula: Toward a World Culture of Peace.”
In his welcoming remarks, UPF Chairman Thomas G. Walsh expressed hope that the focus and vision for peace on the Korean Peninsula would be taken to a broader level, and that soon “the divided world will be reconciled into one humanity and one global culture of peace.”
In addition to calling for peace, the leaders expressed deep condolences for the loss of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. UPF offered a video and floral tribute.
Sheikh Mansour Diouf of the Murid Brotherhood in Senegal expressed an important sentiment, which was echoed by many of the religious leaders. “We are supposed to be brothers. … My grandfather said the one thing people cannot go without is peace.”
Korean reconciliation was a major theme, due to the passion of the UPF co-founders, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who were born in what is now North Korea. In 1991, anti-communist Rev. Moon went to Pyongyang to meet communist North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. The two men embraced as brothers and agreed to launch various goodwill projects together. That unity underscores the hope to bring peace to the 80 million people on the Korean Peninsula, despite decades of division, said Dr. Michael Jenkins, the president of UPF International.
Still, there are discouraging signs. This year North Korea has launched 31 missiles; it threatens to end the Trump-era moratorium on ICBM launches and nuclear tests, and “is showing no interest in talks with Washington,” said former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In video remarks, former US President Donald Trump said his administration worked to first keep “us out of war” and then seek a breakthrough. That led to the strategy of putting “the toughest pressure” on North Korea while offering “unprecedented outreach and engagement” to the nation.
Along with the conference, UPF International, with participation from The Washington Times, organized a Fact-Finding Delegation for Peace on the Korean Peninsula with US officials and South Korean leaders. One topic of conversation was “audacious plans to move North Korea to rapprochement,” said Ambassador Joseph DeTrani from the United States, a special envoy to the Six-Party Talks with DPRK (2003-2006).
“Idealism must be rooted in realism” and “dialogue and military readiness must go hand in hand,” said Ambassador Harry Harris, a Navy admiral who served as US ambassador to South Korea from 2018 to 2021. “I’m encouraged,” he added, that South Korean President Suk-yeol Yoon intends “to make the US-ROK alliance the centerpiece of his foreign policy,” as that means outreach to Japan as well as readiness.
It will “take all elements of power”—diplomatic, intelligence, military, economic—to bring Korea closer to peaceful reunification, said (Ret.) Gen. Walter Sharp, who led US forces, the UN Command, and the ROK-US Combined Forces Command (2008-2011).
Dr. Alexandre Mansourov, an adjunct professor at Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Studies at Georgetown University in the United States, said North Korea’s silence about dialogue was “worrisome,” but praised our alliances with the regional powers as “rock solid.”
Dr. Subash Kaji Shrestha, the deputy secretary general of the Asian Regional Institute of Juche Idea in Nepal, said North Korea seeks peaceful reunification, but based on Universal Humanism—and “without the interference of foreign powers.” The 2018 Panmunjom Agreement sought reunification on the principles and spirit of “By Our Nation Itself,” Dr. Shrestha said, but current inter-Korean relations are now “brought back to the time before the publication” of that agreement. “We who are gathering here” at the UPF summit “should try our best” to understand the situation, Dr. Shrestha said, adding that UPF is “very much appreciated for its Track II diplomatic peace initiatives” on the Korean Peninsula.
The August 11-15 summit builds on the Seoul Resolution 2022, which was signed in February at UPF’s World Summit 2022 by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, chairman of UPF’s Think Tank 2022, and Kingdom of Cambodia Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen. That resolution calls for Korea to become a two-state nation that is “one peninsula, one people, and one culture.”
The Seoul Resolution lays the foundation for a future global agreement to be “one planet, one humanity, and one global peace culture,” said UPF Chairman Thomas G. Walsh.
Dr. Siphana Sok, head of the Asian Vision Institute, a think tank in Cambodia working to advance the Seoul Resolution, said they and others have been developing a Universal Peace Charter based on core principles of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, tolerance, unity in diversity, non-interference, and peaceful settlement of disputes. Dr. Sok read a letter of congratulations from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who called on the UPF members to “unswervingly pursue their peace mission.” H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria, also sent a letter thanking Dr. Hak Ha Han Moon and encouraging the participants to work for peace.
Taiwan’s Vice President Lu Hsiu-lien (2000-2008) invited the world leaders to “make another miracle”—helping Taiwan stay “distant relatives and close neighbors”—and dissuade the People’s Republic of China from its “One China” policy.
Other Highlights of Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference:
—The 40th Anniversary of The Washington Times. Chairman Thomas P. McDevitt, President and Executive Editor Christopher Dolan, and Opinion Editor Charles Hurt spoke of The Times’ impact and its dedication to accurate news and the ideals of freedom, faith, and family. The Times, as a “guest in your home,” will never mock you or your faith, said Mr. Dolan. The Times also hosted a meeting at the National Assembly for Korean and U.S. parliamentarians to share their views on the peninsula and Korea-U.S. cooperation.
—The 60th Anniversary of the Little Angels. The world-famous Korean children’s folk ballet company, founded by Rev. and Mrs. Moon, gave a beautiful special performance to the delight of the conference participants. Co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, known as the Mother of Peace, attended and offered words of gratitude and love for the children and the world leaders.
—Honorary Doctorates. In recognition of their lifelong dedication to building a world of lasting peace, honoris causa doctorate degrees, were presented to UPF’s co-founders by the University for Peace. Dr. Francisco Rojas Aravena, Rector of the University for Peace, presented the degrees to Dr. Moon. The University for Peace was established by the United Nations under the leadership of former Costa Rican president H.E. Rodrigo Carazo, who had been a close friend of the founders and an active UPF Ambassador for Peace. H.E. Carazo was a founding member of the Association for the Unity of Latin America (AULA) and the Summit Council for World Peace.
—Session on Protecting Religious Freedom Worldwide. In video remarks, former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said religious freedom is the “first freedom” because it is “the foundation for true national greatness.”
Religious freedom is “the most important single topic on the planet,” said U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (1995-1999). It presupposes the existence of God, declares that human rights are given by God and not people, and forms the basis of freedom, he said.
Religious freedom is key to security concerns, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (2018-2021), recalling how he left his Bible open on his desk for inspiration. “Nations that threaten others, like China and Iran,'' he said, also “have death holds” on religious freedoms.
From Japan, lawyer Norishige Kondo of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) spoke of the surreal situation of Japan’s national media transferring blame for the assassination of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from the shooter to FFWPU. He said the same opponents of FFWPU who are fueling this media view committed human rights violations against 4,300 FFWPU members through forced abductions, confinements and conversions. In 2014, this history of abuse was brought to the UN Human Rights Committee, which requested the Japanese government to take steps to stop it. But “there is indeed a serious crisis of religious freedom in our country,” Mr. Kondo said.
Toru Goto is an FFWPU member who was confined by his family for 12 years and was hospitalized for 50 days for malnutrition after they released him. He filed criminal charges against his kidnappers, but no arrests or investigations resulted. He then filed a civil suit and won a large award. The current media attacks on FFWPU raise his fears that “this poisonous drug of kidnapping, confinement and forced conversion could resurface,” despite Japan’s constitutional guarantees of “basic human rights” and “freedom of religion.”
While 84 percent of the world’s people claim a religious affiliation, 79 percent live in countries “with high or very high obstacles to religious freedom,” said Hon. Ján Figeľ, special envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion, European Union (2016-2019).
Religious prejudice generates three evils—"intolerance, discrimination, and persecution,” said Dr. Massimo Introvigne from Italy, managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions.
Other speakers in the religious freedom session were Pastor Paula White-Cain of the City of Destiny Church, Bishop Don Meares of the Evangel Cathedral, both from the United States; and Hee-Taek Chung, president of the Segye Ilbo newspaper in Seoul.
Throughout Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference, renowned speakers participated or sent video messages, including: Senegalese President Macky Sall; H.E. José Manuel Barroso, president, European Commission (2004-2014); Hon. Dan Burton, member of the U.S. Congress (1983-2013); Beeland Interests Chairman Jim Rogers; H.E. Boris Tadić, president of Serbia (2004-2012); H.E. Yves Leterme, prime minister of Belgium (2008, 2009-2011); H.E. Ehud Olmert, prime minister of Israel (2006-2009); Hon. Neziha Labidi, Tunisian minister of women, family and children (2016-2020); Hon. Germán Blanco Álvarez, senator, Colombia; Hon. Grigore Novac, member of Parliament, Moldova; Hon. Professor Sunaina Singh, vice chancellor, Nalanda University, India; Mme. Adi Koila Nailatikau, first lady of Fiji (2009-2015); H.E. Johnson Toribiong, president of Palau (2009-2013); Hon. Patricia Terrazas Baca, member of Parliament, Mexico; Dr. Ann Higgins, president, World Dance Congress, Bahamas; Hon. Dave Laksono, member of Parliament, Indonesia; and Hon. Ross Robertson, member of Parliament, New Zealand (1987-2014).
—Sessions on Africa with Commitments to Peace, Youth Education, and Religious Cooperation
The growing power of Africa—where the average age is 20—brings opportunities for education, jobs, encouraging peace, and protecting the environment, especially against desertification. “It is imperative for us: We must train our youth so that they can resolutely take charge of their destiny,” said H.E. Brigi Rafini, executive secretary of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and former prime minister of Niger.
CEN-SAD has 25 member states, with 650 million people covering about half of the continent, and is one of the eight regional economic communities that make up the African Union, now led by Senegal’s President Macky Sall. Later, at an International Youth Leaders Conference, 25 youth ministers from Malawi, Nigeria, Eswatini, Cape Verde, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Niger along with youth leaders from around the world discussed the importance of vocational training and character education for African youth. This was followed by the signing of an agreement to raise “youth for peace.” The event also included the awarding of an honorary doctorate to H.E. Brigi Rafini by Sun Moon University.
In a separate assembly, organized by the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD), with representatives of the 54 member nations of the African Union, the issue of African religions and spirituality was discussed. Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon delivered a message in which she emphasized that we should all work together. “Please join me in carrying out the work needed to restore this world to its original pristine state at the time of creation so that our descendants in the future won’t have to worry but will have hope. Let’s accomplish this with our own hands.”
Imboni Dr. Uzwi-Lezwe Radebe, founder of the Revelation Spiritual Home in South Africa, joined Most Rev. Daniel Okoh, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria; Hon. Issaka Sourwema, minister of religious and customary affairs of Burkina Faso; H.E. Rev. Nevers Mumba, founder of the National Christian Coalition in Zambia; and Dr. Nokuzola Mndende, national chairperson of the Council of African Religion in South Africa to discuss a resolution to protect religious freedom in Africa and to officially recognize the IAPD. This resolution was subsequently signed.
—The International Academic Conference, co-hosted by the Hyojeong Academic Foundation and the International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP), focuses on the theme, “The Road to Peace and Unification,” and featured panelists commenting on many of the initiatives toward building a peaceful world that UPF’s co-founders have advanced, particularly in the areas of Korean reunification, science, women’s movement, family, education, media, and the economy.
The Fifth Think Tank 2022 was held at the HJ Global Arts Center on August 15 and featured Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, Director-General, International Atomic Energy Agency (1997-2009), Hon. Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State (2018-2021), and Gen. Lim Ho-yeong, Deputy Commander, ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (2016-2017).
Summit participants were invited to sign three pledges: the Resolution for a Universal Peace Charter; the Resolution to Establish an IAPD-Africa Advisory Council in Partnership with the African Union (to promote interfaith cooperation within Africa); and a Declaration on the Universal Value of Religious Freedom (to protect the absolute right to freedom of religion for all people).
In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), UPF, the International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP) and the Sunhak Educational Foundation to develop vocational training and character education for African youth.
On August 14, a separate program held outside Seoul at the HJ Global Arts Center with more than 30,000 in attendance commemorated the 10th anniversary of the passing of the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, “a pioneer of peace and reunification,” in the words of UPF International Director-General Dr. Yun Young-ho. Some 86 floral tributes and numerous messages were sent from world leaders, including North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. The message from North Korea read: “Rev. Moon worked for the sake of world peace … and his achievements and legacy will be remembered for eons. … We would like to wish prosperity and success to the International Family Federation and UPF.”
The events marking the 10th anniversary of the passing of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon were successfully carried out despite the various challenges dealing with Covid restrictions and adverse weather in Korea. In all, the conference generated a positive momentum to uphold and carry on the legacy of peace initiated by the co-founders and to continue partnerships in the search for solutions to our world’s most pressing problems.