International Leadership Conference, Feb. 2014, Seoul, Korea

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“Toward a New Paradigm for Peace and Human Development” was the theme of an International Leadership Conference that drew people from 50 nations to Seoul, Korea, from Feb. 9 to 13, 2014. Distinguished diplomats, scholars and peace activists offered insights into current events on the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East to the 165 conference participants. Religious leaders, educators, journalists and women leaders described their work to build understanding and improve relations among diverse people in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
  • 1. International Leadership Conference: “Toward a New Paradigm of Peace and Human Development” Seoul, Korea - February 9-12, 2014 Organized by the Universal Peace Federation in partnership with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Segye Times, The Washington Times Foundation and the Women’s Federation for World Peace
  • 2. Preparing to welcome participants from 60 nations to the opening banquet
  • 3. Dr. Jeung Rho Yoon, chair of UPF-Korea, described the grassroots outreach of Korean Ambassadors for Peace who keep alive hopes for the peaceful reunification of their divided peninsula.
  • 4. Brig. Gen. Roberto P. Santiago from the Philippines described the vicious circles of conflict in his homeland and how the government has sought to build lasting peace by calling on people of faith to take the lead in setting aside past resentments and working for reconciliation.
  • 5. The Arabic term Awneh (meaning “joining hands”) was offered by Mrs. Laudy Sleiman Sfeir, president of Call of Society in Lebanon, as a metaphor for how the 18 communal groups in her nation have been trying, with varying degrees of success, to maintain cohesion.
  • 6. Keynote speakers and organizers prepare the opening session on “A New Paradigm for Peace and Human Development.”
  • 7. In introducing the conference theme, Dr. Thomas Walsh, president of UPF International, identified a variety of characteristics of a “new paradigm for peace and human development," including the increasing inclusion of the marginalized, the resurgence of religion, the growing importance and relevance of civil society and non-state actors, and the digital communications revolution.
  • 8. Former Japanese minister of defense Hon. Yoshinori Ohno referred to Japan's dilemma of being restricted in its use of military force and then described some opportunities for Japan to make a positive impact in conflict areas, such as providing medical services.
  • 9. Mrs. Margareta Timofti, first lady of Moldova, described the former Soviet republic’s challenges of preserving traditional values while seeking greater links with the European Union. She paid tribute to UPF- Moldova for helping children with autism.
  • 10. Mme. Mintou Doucouré Traore, the first lady of Mali from 2012 to 2013, talked about the suffering and displacement of the people in her West African country caused by separatist forces and expressed hope that UPF will implement a peace initiative in Africa.
  • 11. Mrs. Julia H. Moon, general director of the Universal Ballet in Korea, referred to Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s teachings about peace as a profoundly spiritual concept: “Whenever he spoke, he shared an inspiring vision of the human family rising up together in love and overcoming the barriers of nationality, race and religion.”
  • 12. A session entitled A Roadmap for Peace in Northeast Asia was chaired by Dr. Alexandre Mansourov (rear), one of the leading experts on North Korea in the United States.
  • 13. Dr. Chang Shik Yang, chair of UPF and The Washington Times Foundation, opened the session by describing the vision of the organizations’ founders, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, for the Northeast Asia Peace Initiative and their efforts to ease tensions between the two nations.
  • 14. Ambassador Christopher Hill, former US ambassador to Korea and head of the US delegation at the Six- Party Talks, emphasized that North Korea does not need nuclear weapons to defend itself and that if North Korea would abandon this ambition the United States would offer energy resources and business development in order to help it rejoin the community of nations.
  • 15. Dr. Hyunik Hong, senior research fellow in the Security Strategy Studies Department at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, called for freezing of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and expressed hopes that talks could resume, at least among four nations if not six, as before.
  • 16. Mr. Hiroshi Yamada, a lecturer on international relations at Kaetsu University in Tokyo, described some of the diplomatic stalemates in the region and the restrictions on Japan’s role in promoting security.
  • 17. Dr. Alexander Zhebin, director of the Center for Korean Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies, expressed hope for positive outcomes from Russian proposals for economic cooperation with North Korea.
  • 18. The distinguished speakers attracted an audience of about 400 people.
  • 19. Songs by a North Korean women’s group introduced a session on women in leadership that explored themes of peace, partnership and development.
  • 20. Dr. Lan Young Moon, president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International, talked about being moved by the suffering she witnessed during her 20 trips on charitable missions to her native North Korea, from which she had escaped as a young girl, but still not being allowed to visit her hometown.
  • 21. A native Syrian living in the United States, Dr. Rehab Bitar, president of Cultural Bridge, Syria, gave faces to the growing numbers of displaced and suffering people by showing images of women she met while on a recent high-risk journey to Damascus.
  • 22. Dr. Shigeko Fukai, visiting professor at Chiba National University in Japan, called on women in developed countries to lead a "paradigm shift toward a more sustainable world" both by pressuring their governments to move toward greater sustainability and by changing wasteful lifestyles.
  • 23. Ms. Cynthia Turner, executive vice president of Medical Services Corporation, described her work to improve the economic status and stability of communities where people are recovering and rebuilding after conflict.
  • 24. Dr. Meena Upadhyaya, a professor of medical genetics at Cardiff University in Wales, UK, talked about her life journey as an immigrant from India to her current position as an innovator in cancer research and treatment.
  • 25. A session on principles of peacebuilding addressed by (left to right:) Mr. Ricardo de Sena, Dr. Thomas Selover, Mrs. Eugenia Kagawa, Dr. Michael Balcomb and Mr. Adama Doumbia (chair), sparked animated discussions among participants.
  • 26. Give and take among conference participants
  • 27. Speakers at the session on Interfaith, International Relations and Peacebuilding included Dr. Thomas Walsh explaining UPF’s principles of peacebuilding; Archbishop George Stallings, Jr., talking about the Middle East Peace Initiative; former Indian Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar drawing on the roots of Indian religion; and Mr. Bart ten Broek describing the challenges of promoting understanding and respect among Christian and Muslim students in schools in the Netherlands.
  • 28. Dr. Michael Jenkins, a member of UPF’s Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) steering committee, gave an overview of ten years of interfaith peacebuilding in Israel, Palestine and Jordan. “We are challenged to transcend the barriers of our religions and believe that God inspired religions other than our own.”
  • 29. H.E. Dr. Mohammed R. Al Hussaini Al Sharif, ambassador of the League of Arab States to the United States, gave an overview of the political and diplomatic stalemates in the region and called for implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative that was agreed upon at a 2002 summit in Beirut.
  • 30. Mr. Michael Leonard McIntyre, former president of the Capital Region Interreligious Council in Canada, reflected about his visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem as a participant in the recent MEPI program. A Buddhist, Mr. McIntyre spoke of the need to open the inner dimension and awaken the heart of welcoming the divine.
  • 31. Sheikh Dr. Hojjat Ramzy, director of the Muslim Council of Britain, pointed out the diversities of peoples and faiths in the Middle East and recommended “cultural diplomacy” and efforts to mend “the torn fabric of ancient societies” with care and understanding.
  • 32. A former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Hon. Naomi Sarah Tsur, described eight kilometers of an abandoned railway line that had been used as a dump by nearby neighborhoods. As evidence of the mending power of a compelling larger vision, she said that joint clean-up efforts stimulated diverse people to start talking to each other.
  • 33. Ven. Dr. Michel Thao Chan, president of Reflection of Nations Circle in France, described the graduate programs in peace administration and international governance that he developed, drawing on his grounding in three religious traditions as a Vedantist, Sufi and Buddhist monk.
  • 34. The final session, chaired by Mr. Mark Brann, Secretary General of UPF-Europe, on the role of media and education, closed with a spirited discussion among media professionals about transmitting values: Mr. Humphrey Hawksley, world affairs correspondent with the BBC in London; Mr. Thomas McDevitt, chairman of The Washington Times in the United States; and Mrs. Nancy Schultze, founder of Congressional Wives Speakers, also from the United States.
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