This session and the one after it both focused on the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP). The moderator of Session IV was Hon. Dan Burton, a former U.S. congressman from the state of Indiana (1983-2013) and one of the two co-chairs of IAPP.
Hon. Dr. Silvia del Rosario Giacoppo, a senator from Argentina who serves on her nation’s Commission on Environment and Sustainable Development, spoke about the importance of culture as the principal means to foster tolerance. She touched on many important issues, including the refugee crisis, the Paris Agreement on climate change, North Korea’s testing of nuclear warheads and missiles, the new United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres, and the value of international organizations such as UPF.
Hon. Dr. Haydee Castillo De Solano, an assemblywoman from Nicaragua, said it was “incomprehensible that in the age of knowledge, [when] technology is opening up previously unimaginable fields for the advancement of science and humanity, we are at the same time witnessing the atrocities of wars and the terrible threat of terrorism.” She said that Nicaragua has learned lessons from its history of wars, natural disasters, and security and human development, but the main problem that the country faces is poverty. Education is the answer, she said, but not just external knowledge such as science and mathematics; these subjects must be complemented by universal values.
Hon. Dr. Olga Bogomolets, the head of the Committee on Health of the Ukrainian Parliament, spoke about the problems affecting her country and what she referred to as “geopolitical discrimination.” While discrimination usually refers to gender, race, religion, etc., she said she was referring to the discrimination connected to so-called “small” or “minor” nations. Such countries are at a disadvantage, she said, due to “an uncompetitive economy, low standard of living, and undeveloped civil society.” The former Soviet republics of Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine are examples of such “small” or “minor” countries, as is Syria, she said. This is the situation in Ukraine, she said, where “almost 10,000 people have died, and there are over 2 million internal refugees.” She said she supports IAPP and hopes “that such an organization will lead the world in a certain balance of ‘power’ influence.”
Hon. Iliesa Delana, the deputy minister of youth and sports in Fiji, extended a big “Bula Vinaka” to everyone and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.” If we are to have peace on earth, he said, “our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation, and this means that we must develop a world perspective.”
Despite the many technological advances, “the security of every human being is constantly being threatened by lack of food, economic instability, wars and nuclear threats, terrorism, climate change, gender inequality and many other global problems,” he said. It is up to the leaders of all nations to effectively address these problems. Although Fiji is racially and religiously diverse, he said, “Fiji is not fully immune from political turmoil.”
Hon. Yoshinori Ohno, the former Japanese minister of defense, gave a summary report about the inauguration of the Japanese chapter of IAPP. It took place in the House of Councilors, the upper house of Japan’s Diet, or parliament, on November 17, 2016, just before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump. Sixty-three current members of the Diet participated, as well as the deputies of 37 parliamentarians. Hon. Ohno spoke about the European Union and the challenges it faces by “nation-centric popular waves,” and he also spoke about the UPF and its efforts to reform the United Nations.
Hon. Paulo Pisco, a member of Portugal’s parliament, expressed a sense of guarded optimism. “Fear is in the air,” he said. “The global order is falling apart, caused by selfish political decisions that are being taken without caring about [their] consequences nor of the human factor.” In the face of so many challenges to peace, he said, “we should make a strong call to reasonability to all political deciders and public opinions.”
Appreciating the interconnectedness of our nations, Hon. Pisco said, “we must put forward the common good, the sense of humanity and solidarity, accepting our part of responsibility, either in relation to the tragedy of migration in the European Union or in relation to the global environment or to sustainable development. Responsibility, humanity and solidarity are the key words for people and to the planet.”
Hon. Khodr Habib, a Lebanese assemblyman, said that despite the gloomy media portrayal of life in Lebanon, the country has “succeeded in navigating through troubled waters. Our army and security agencies are in the frontline in the fight against terrorism. United, we rejected extremism and intolerance. We have sustained the influx of Syrian refugees,” he said. Hon. Habib said the Lebanese government is working closely with local NGOs and international organizations. He made the point that the fight against radicalization and religious intolerance should not rely only on security and military measures. What is needed, he said, is an approach that combines political, religious as well as economic development strategies “to win the hearts and minds of the people.”
Hon. Karen Wan-Ju Yu, a member of Taiwan’s Legislative Council, addressed the theme “The Battle of Taste Injustice behind the Food.” Much of the foods that society takes for granted have a tragic origin, for example, coffee, tea, olive oil, cocoa, and wine. To fulfill the demand for lower prices, products are manufactured in developing countries. Cheap labor keeps the costs down, but that labor involves women and children working under unsafe conditions. Other detrimental effects are air and water pollution, gender inequality, poverty, and conflict.
Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, a member of parliament from Nepal, spoke about the IAPP inauguration held in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, from July 28 to 31, 2016, where more than 300 lawmakers from 29 nations of Asia and Oceania joined with 200 Nepali parliamentarians. He emphasized that IAPP must be politically neutral; needs to embrace lawmakers from all parties; should emphasize dialogue as an essential first step to resolving conflicts and building trust; respect and honor all religions and faith traditions; and highlight the importance of the family as the cornerstone of peace, prosperity and patriotism.
Hon. Jong-seong Lim, a Korean assemblyman who is on his government’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee, spoke about U.S.-Korean relations in light of the recent election of Mr. Donald Trump as U.S. president. Traditionally the United States has played the role of the world’s policeman, but the United States’ newly stated policy of isolationism “is causing ripples across the world and impacting U.S.-Korean relations.” Over the last 60 years, the Republic of Korea always has been a strong ally to the United States and emerged as an economic power and democracy, regardless of who has been the president. With the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and continued nuclear testing by North Korea, the congressman believes there will be increased tension not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the entire Northeast Asian region.