Paris, France - UPF's first European Leadership Conference of 2012 took place at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris April 12-13 under the patronage of the Permanent Delegations of the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Kenya to UNESCO.
The President of the 33rd General Conference of UNESCO and Counsellor of the Delegation of Oman to UNESCO, H.E. Dr. Moosa Jaafar Hassan, opened the first session by stating that a "New Vision for Peace and Human Development" means seeking new strategies while not excluding other global tests. To form those new strategies we need to involve intellectuals, religious people, academics, and civil society in the support of policymakers.
Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Patron of the Conference, had to travel to Egypt at the last moment, and his speech was read by his secretary, Dr. Sonia Ramzi. Noting that small conflicts by unarmed groups can cause huge problems among civilian populations, he referred to his initiative in 1992 focusing on conflict prevention. He knows well the reluctance of the international community to respond to issues that everyone knows about but does not want to be involved in. He emphasized disarming small groups and preventing arms buildup in small or poor nations, calling one tank equivalent to 500 classrooms and noting that ‘land mines can cause problems long after the conflict has ended.’ He concluded on a positive note saying, ‘I trust the future because I know that men and women of good will are working to set up frameworks of relations to ensure peace for future generations.’
Prof. Akiko Yamanaka, Senior Visiting Scholar at Churchill College, Cambridge and a former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, spoke on ‘A New Vision for Non-Traditional Security with Human Security.’ In discussing human security, she spoke of the need for a ‘two-handed policy: one is military preparation and the other is non-military diplomacy’ in a tide of history that is in a ’transition period.’ During the cold war, security meant being “against” certain countries. However, the concept of security now should be “with” every nation or state in the region and incorporate military, political, economic, societal, and environmental dimensions and the inter‐linkages between them. The traditional model of security rests upon military defense of national territory. Yet for many people in the world – perhaps even most – the much greater threats to security come from internal conflicts, disease, hunger, environmental contamination, street crime, or even domestic violence. A greater threat may come from within a country than from an ‘external’ adversary. Furthermore, after the terrorist events on September 11, the need for international cooperation that exceeds national borders has become more important than before.
Dr. Ali Rastbeen, from the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Paris, commented on the importance of resolving the Middle East conflicts as a foundation for world peace. He described the Middle East as the main realm of geopolitical strategies and a nerve center of the contemporary world. He believes that while awareness of human development has grown, it conflicts with the autocratic realms that dominate many nations. He described the UN Charter the framework for a new, more peaceful order and emphasized the power of education for promoting peace.
In the keynote address, Dr. Yong Cheon Song, Chair of UPF-Europe, said that of all the constituent organizations of the UN, UPF feels perhaps the greatest natural affinity with UNESCO because of their common interest in education, science, and culture. He expressed appreciation to UNESCO for promoting a culture of peace based on the insight that true peace can only begin "in the hearts of men."
In addition to UPF and the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), conference organizers included the Center for the Study and Promotion of Culture and Communication in Africa, the Forum of Organizations for International Solidarity on Migration Issues, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Geneva Interfaith and Intercultural Alliance
Session II: Family and Good Governance
Mrs. Brigitte Wada, President of the Women's Federation for World Peace-France, chaired this session. Mrs. Nelly Camberville, Founder and President of IN SOLIDUM, emphasized the role of women, adding that for a sustainable peace to prevail there must be good governance, good governance within the family, result-based management, and individual and collective responsibility.
Minister and Consul General Jesus Gary S. Domingo, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke on the role and significance of family in promoting world peace. For peace to prevail, cultural grooming has to take place in the family, the first school and the basic unit of governance. He compared the family to an embassy of peace, for it teaches compassion, modesty, love, self-sacrifice, service, tolerance, forgiveness, unity, and control on mind.
Mrs. Carolyn Handschin-Moser, President of WFWP-Europe, articulated a new vision of that moves beyond the traditional paradigm. Women with their grassroots, family-based life experiences are of immense importance in building peace. Men and women should be partners charting a new path to peace and non-violence, replacing the patriarchy-matriarchy matrix with “famil-archy.”
Session III: Africa at the Turning Point of Peace and Development
chaired by Mr. Robert Williamson of UPF-Scotland, speakers included H.E. Elizabeth Paula Napeyok, Ambassador of Uganda to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO; Ms. Maguite Lorcy, Founder of G.A.I.A.; Pastor Armand Mavinga, President of Centre for the Promotion of Culture and Communication in Africa; and Mrs. Julie Morgan, current Welsh Assembly Member, MP for Cardiff North (1997-2010) and a Trustee of “Life for African Mothers.”
Session IV: Universal Principles and Education for Character
Ven. Dr. Michel Thao Chan, Founder and President of the Cercle de Reflexion des Nations, discussed peacebuilding and culture. He referred to various dimensions of knowledge and advised the participants to base their understanding of peace and culture on practical and innovative knowledge rather than information casually downloaded from the Internet.
Dr. Jean-Luc Berlet, author and doctor of philosophy, discussed the Gandhian non-violent model of peace in a contemporary context. Mr. Khalil Raihani, a member of the Council of Europe Pool of Trainers talked about peace as a negation of war and violence. He emphasized the need for dialogue in local culture and language so that all the principal parties to a the conflict can be brought together.
The last speaker was Mr. Jack Corley, Chair of UPF-United Kingdom. He laid stress on character and moral education for sustainable peacebuilding and agreed with earlier speakers on the importance of the family as the school of love and the best foundation for social ethics.
Session V: Youth Forum on Exploring Global Citizenship
Ms. Thea J. Kunzig, a member of UPF’s European Youth Committee, served as chair. Mr. Salem Moosa Hassan, an Omani diplomat, spoke on the importance of education transcending local and national perspectives for the sustainable building of peace. Ms. Souria Saad Zoy, Assistant to the Director of UNESCO Youth Programme; Mr. Ranjit Singh, Director of Public affairs at the Representative Council of French Sikhs; Ms. Lotifa Begum, Development Education Coordinator of Islamic Relief in the UK; Mr. Xavier Giuavarc’h, President of the Forum Ploudaniel; and Mr. Ewald Schenkermayr, UPF European Youth Committee, all offered insights on the importance of education and community service for sustainable peace.
Session VI: Human Development
The session was chaired by Kathrin Plane. Speakers included Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan, First Minister of Wales (2000-2009); Ambassador Dr. Walther Lichem, former Head of the Department for International Organizations of the Austrian Foreign Ministry; Imam Dr. Abduljalil Sajid JP, Chairman of the European Union's Task-force for the European Year of Inter-cultural Dialogue; Admiral Jean Dufourcq, Director of Studies at the Ecole Militaire and editor of the Journal Defence; and Laurent Ladouce, Director of the Centre for Culture and Peace in Paris.
Dr. Sajid talked about the interconnection between inner and outer peace as the most important requirement for world peace. Admiral Jean Dufourcq called for a new, 21st-century approach to war and peace. Mr. Ladouce said that human development is much more than just an economic issue. “A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle,” he said, quoting Ernest Renan. “We should move from the development of things to the development of person if we really want durable peace.”
Session VII: A Life in Service to Peace
The session was chaired by Mrs. Brigitte Sillitoe, with presentations by Mr. Timothy Miller, Vice-Chair of UPF-Europe; Monsignor Jacques Gaillot, Roman Catholic bishop of Partenia; and Mr. Chansamone Voravong, President of F.O.R.I.M.
Mr. Miller introduced the work of UPF Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon with references to his autobiography now translated into over 40 languages. Msgr. Gaillot touched upon several issues essential for the enhancement of family life, especially the need for regular and open sharing and communication among the husband and wife to clear misunderstandings. Only sound loving families can help usher in a wider peace, he said.
Session VIII: Vision, Projects, and Recent Activities
Mr. Robin Marsh, Secretary General, UPF-United Kingdom, chaired the session, and Mrs. Brigitte Wada, President of WFWP-France, and Mr. Mark Brann, Secretary General of UPF-Europe, were the speakers. Mr. Brann spoke to the four core areas of UPF’s work: interfaith harmony and cooperation; building of strong, healthy families, creating a culture of service, reconciliation and partnership. Giving examples of UPF’s peace initiatives in the Middle East, the Korean peninsula, and Nepal, he explained the principles and practices employed by UPF in the successful outcomes brought about in those areas.
Although every session was tightly scheduled, each session also allowed time for lively academic discussion, a point appreciated by many of the 300 participants, who felt that the conference had been a great success, fully attended from start to finish.