Phnom Penh, Cambodia—To support practical steps towards building a culture of peace, democracy, good governance and development, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), in cooperation with the Asian Vision Institute (AVI), supported by the International Parliament for Tolerance and Peace (IPTP), convened the International Leadership Conference (ILC) Cambodia in Phnom Penh from July 21 to 24, 2023.
As many as 253 participants from 50 nations, including seven current and former heads of state and government, 45 parliamentarians and 15 organizations, came together in-person to deliberate on the theme “Peace and Democracy” and to be observers of Cambodia’s 2023 general election. A total of 2,319 people watched the livestream of the conference via iPeaceTV and YouTube.
ILC Cambodia provided an ideal opportunity for UPF and AVI to further develop their partnership as they explored important projects with a special emphasis on the Asia Pacific Union (APU) initiative and Universal Peace Charter (UPC). This initiative is based on the common vision for peace and prosperity of UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and Cambodia’s Prime Minister H.E. Samdech Techo Hun Sen.
In his inaugural message to the conference, H.E. Sen affirmed: “My experience has taught that it is only peaceful means—open and sincere peace talks and mutual consultation—that ensure the realization of peace. Through years of experience, they taught us that we cannot use war to end war.”
In her Founder’s message, Dr. Moon stated that “Unity and world peace can only be achieved by acknowledging and attending the Creator and Owner of this universe as our Parent... There is a path for humanity to move toward a singular objective through the Asian continent, which serves as the bedrock of Asia’s spiritual civilization.”
The welcome dinner on July 21 was hosted by the government of the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Entertainment for this event featured beautiful Cambodian music and dance and included the World Expo 2030 Busan, Korea Promotional Team. The speakers that evening welcomed the guests, some of who had travelled for 30 hours, and raised the expectations that this conference would be a unique and enriching experience for everyone.
Session I began after lunch the following day on July 22 with the theme “Peace and Democracy.” Representing the ILC Cambodia Organizing Committee was Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, a member of the House of Representatives of the Federal Parliament of Nepal, and Bundit Sapheacha Dr. Sok Siphana, chairman of the board of directors of the Asian Vision Institute, who warmly welcomed the participants. This was followed by a video message from UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.
Dr. Charles S. Yang, chairman of UPF, stated that the era of the Pacific civilization has dawned and that the emerging Asian civilization will usher in a complementary age of spirituality centered on universal values rooted in the family. Hon. Dan Burton, a former member of the United States Congress (1983-2013) and co-chair of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), commended Dr. Moon for creating IAPP, which he sees as one of the most needed bodies for peace. H.E. Tep Ngorn, second vice-president of the Senate of Cambodia, concluded the session with his remarks in which he said that peace is the precondition for all development, including democracy, good governance and economic development.
Session II was on the theme “Peace, Democracy, Good Governance and Development: Towards a Culture of Peace in Asia-Pacific and the World.” Distinguished world leaders delivered keynote addresses which focused particularly on the crucial role of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in maintaining peace and harmony in the world. The following speakers shared their wisdom and expertise based on their experiences serving as national and global leaders:
- Hon. Dr. Werner Fasslabend, former speaker of the Parliament (2000-2002) and defense minister (1987-1990, 1990-2000) of Austria
Click here for the full intervention of Hon. Dr. Werner Fasslabend.
- H.E. Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria (2010-2015) and chair of the International Summit Council for Peace-Africa
- H.E. Jimmy Morales, president of Guatemala (2016-2020) via video message
- H.E. K.P. Sharma Oli, prime minister of Nepal (2015-2016, 2018-2021)
- H.E. Yusuf Raza Gilani, prime minister of Pakistan (2008-2012)
- H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, president (2015-2019) and member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka
- H.E. Andres Pastrana Arango, president of Colombia (1998-2002)
- Dr. Song Yong-Cheol, international president, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU)
In Session III, several peace initiatives that were proposed and resolutions that were adopted during UPF’s World Summit 2022 and Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference were discussed. Specifically, the Asia Pacific Union initiative, Universal Peace Charter, the “Two States Toward One Nation: One Peninsula, One People, One Culture” initiative and the “Global Vision Toward One Planet, One Humanity, One Global Culture of Peace” initiative were deliberated on in detail.
Afterwards, the Presidency Handover Ceremony of the International Parliament for Tolerance and Peace took place, signifying the transfer of leadership to Hon. Suos Yara. The event marked an important moment in IPTP's history and showcased its commitment to promoting tolerance and peace under its new leadership.
Hon. Khuon Sudary, chairperson of the Asian Cultural Council and vice president of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia, who presided over the ceremony, commended the appointment of Hon. Suos as the next president of IPTP and praised Cambodia's remarkable progress in the areas of peace, stability and development. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Jarwan, president of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace (GCTP), announced that a regional office of the GCTP for the Asia Pacific region will be set up in Cambodia to implement a number of projects and activities, including the Universal Peace Charter, food security and international trade in the Mekong region and beyond.
The day concluded with a dinner hosted by H.E. Prak Sokhonn, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
On July 23, Mrs. Moriko Hori, international president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), an affiliated organization, chaired a special session for women leaders in recognition of the need to strengthen women’s roles in fostering a culture of peace.
In the same afternoon, a high-level session of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace provided an invaluable platform for lawmakers, experts and diplomats to deliberate on the successful election in Cambodia, the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula and the pursuit of peace between Russia and Ukraine.
A special International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP) dinner was hosted in honor of the participating former heads of state and government, during which H.E. Sirisena was appointed as the new chair of the ISCP in the Asia Pacific region.
The participants had the privilege to observe another historic election of members of the Cambodian National Assembly for the Seventh Legislature, which marked the 30th anniversary of the first general election held in 1993. During a press conference the morning of July 24, leaders representing the ISCP, IAPP or their national delegation shared their observations on this year’s election process and testified to the progressive development and maturity of Cambodian democracy.
The visit to the genocide museum deeply impacted the conference participants. Cambodia’s democratization journey since the end of its civil war over 45 years ago showcases the value of peace and national stability. The participants reached an understanding that interdependence, mutual prosperity and shared values shall be upheld. Furthermore, six elements were highlighted to foster “comprehensive peace,” such as shared prosperity, a just and fair international order, human rights and fundamental freedoms, fostering a safe planet for future generations and inclusive education.