The 32nd International Conference of the Universal Peace Federation has just ended Seoul, Korea. Held from August 26 to 29, the event gathered 300 participants from 85 nations of the world, including parliamentarians, religious leaders, NGO leaders, scholars and journalists.
The theme of the conference was “Addressing the Critical Challenges of our Time: The Responsibility of Parliamentarians and Religious Leaders”. It featured programs of the two projects recently launched by UPF, the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) and the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD).
On the first day participants were invited as special guests to the commemoration festival of UPF Founder Dr Sun Myung Moon’s ascension, on which occasion was held a traditional Marriage Blessing and Rededication ceremony attended by thousands of couples of all ages from around the world.
On August 28 morning took place an IAPP session with a special focus on the challenges facing the Korean Peninsula, featuring parliamentarians and scholars from the United States, Japan and Korea - including a Korean parliamentarian former defector from North Korea, an American ambassador to the Six Party Talks on North and South Korea, etc. The six panellists shared their perspective on the chances of reunification of the peninsula.
Two sessions followed on the respective roles of parliamentarians and religious leaders in carrying out “peace and development”. Members of parliament from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, including a former Head of State and a National Assembly President from Africa and a Deputy Speaker from Europe, gave unique perspectives on world affairs from the standpoint of their national experience as lawmakers.
Religious Leaders from five continents shared how they addressed critical challenges in their own environment with the spiritual resources provided by their faiths – from the promotion of peace and tolerance in the Middle East, to social work in Europe or dealing with conflicts in Ukraine, etc.
Each panel session, featuring 8 speakers from such diverse cultural, political or religious backgrounds, was very informative and stimulated animated question-answer time with the audience.
Two sessions were devoted to the presentation of the UPF vision, principles and projects: the IAPP and IAPD, the Character Education curriculums, the programs for marriage and family strengthening, the Peace Road projects throughout the world and the upcoming Sunhak Peace Prize 2019. Also included was a presentation of the numerous educational programs and UN-related activities of the Women’s Federation for World Peace.
Thirty conference participants were invited to the monthly Peace Road Forum of the World Peace Road Foundation (WPRF), organized as a side event by Ambassador Chung Tae-ik, former Korean Ambassador to Russia and WPRF Korean chapter president. The guest speaker was Dr Victor Razbegin, a former Director for Transport Projects at the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, a leading expert on the Bering Strait Tunnel project. Dr Razbegin presented a broad review of transport links around the world and emphasized the economic benefits of a railroad link connecting the Russian and American continents via the Bering Strait. Such a project, Ambassador Chung concluded, will become a vital economic incentive after the unification of the Korean peninsula.
The 32nd ILC ended with a session introducing the various Summits organized by UPF around the world in 2018 – Dakar in January, Vienna in April and Sao Paulo in July - and the upcoming Summits in Cape Town in November and Kathmandu in December.
The last speaker, Chief Mandela Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela and Head of the Royal House of Mandela in South Africa, drew great attention from the audience when he reported about his grandfather’s 100-year birthday celebration last July in their home village of Mvezo, co-sponsored by UPF and attended by South African President Ramaphosa and former presidents Zuma and Motlanthe. On this occasion, he said, President Ramaphosa gave his agreement for a Summit in Cape Town in November this year, which will be co-sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation.