UPF Secretary General Speaks at UNESCO
Dr. Thomas Walsh, UPF Secretary General|
September 5, 2007
Paris: With only a handful of years left to achieve the UN's Millennium Development Goals, there is a growing sense of urgency to find new solutions that will break the world wide impasse on progress. At a meeting at the UNESCO headquarters, UPF Secretary General Dr. Thomas Walsh outlined eight action steps and pledged the support of the UPF to reaching these important targets.
Your Excellencies. Ladies and Gentlemen. It is an honor and a privilege to be here this evening in the presence of so many distinguished and committed leaders, and to have the chance to say a few words on behalf of the Universal Peace Federation.
Our UPF Co-Chairman, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, was scheduled to be here with you today, but some very bad weather in the northwest of the USA forced a delay of his departure. He sends his very best wishes and apologies, and has asked me to speak in his place.
The significance of civil society in the effort to solve critical global problems and improve the overall quality of life for humanity is now widely recognized.
Civil society organizations, NGOs, private sector philanthropists, voluntary associations, and faith-based organizations can all serve as partners with governments and inter-governmental organizations.
We live at a time when power is increasingly de-centralized and dispersed. Both state actors and non-state actors are essential in the search for peace and human development.
This also applies to the effort to achieve the MDGs.
In the few moments that I have to speak today, I want to make a few recommendations:
First, our concept or definition of development needs to be understood comprehensively, and should include non-traditional components that complement the social, political and economic components. There needs to be an appreciation of the complementary and interdependent relationship that must exist between the internal and external aspects of development, or the vertical and horizontal.
Here are some non-traditional components:
These recommendations can all be advanced by the institutions of civil society.
- Virtues: the concept of virtues expands the idea of development to include moral development. While we may want to insist that moral development can only become a focus once economic development is secured, in reality the two are inextricably related. Virtues such as honesty, generosity, courage, fortitude and empathy are core strengths or capacities that are needed in order for a social system to function well and result in political, social and economic development. There is a correlation, for example, between moral weakness and corruption.
Action Step: character education should be included in development programs.
- Relationship skill development: at the core of all human endeavors are human relationships. The quality of human relationships is essential to development, not only in the sense of "it's not what you know, it's who you know," but also in the sense of having social skills to work collaboratively, cooperatively and constructively with others.
Action Step: training in relationship skills is needed to supplement MDG achievement efforts
- Strengthening marriage and family: marriage and family are universal values held dear and sacred by virtually all human civilizations throughout history. The qualities of family life, parenting and husband-wife relationships are relevant to human development. There are strong and high correlations between stable, constructive marriage and the improvement of life opportunities and capacities for children: high educational accomplishment, lower crime, higher probability of transitioning into a stable career, greater mental health and self-esteem factors.
Action Step: include programs in strengthening marriage and in parenting skills as key auxiliary aids to development programs.
- Partnerships with faith-based organizations: religion and faith-based organizations can be strong allies in the effort to achieve MDGs, from HIV/AIDS prevention, to empowerment of women, to primary school education, etc. Religions are dedicated to human well-being.
Action Step: encourage more education, information and partnership about MDGs among religious leaders, believers and faith-based organizations.
- Leadership and good governance training: the quality of leadership and governance in nations, in religions, in NGOs and in the private sector is essential to achievement of the MDGs. Raising awareness about MDGs needs to be combined with programs that offer training in leadership and good governance. Furthermore, leadership and good governance training needs not only to focus on factors such as transparency, accountability, responsibility, etc., but also give attention to universal values and a vision of peace for the whole human family.
Action Step: offer leadership and good governance programs that give attention to universal values and the concept of service leadership.
- Moral and spiritual vision: the inability to solve core human problems is related in important ways to the human will and determination to change and transform our world. In order to foster change, there must be a vision, rooted in universal moral and spiritual values, that inspires service—activism that is not merely for a particular nationality, religion, race, ethnicity, etc., but for the whole human family. Most human beings affirm the existence of a higher power, divine order, or personal and benevolent God, who cares for human beings and forms the foundation of their worldviews. This affirmation should be treated with great respect.
Action Step: Develop a global ethics based on universal moral and spiritual values as a basis for or complement to education about the MDGs.
- Peacebuilding: conflict, disharmony, hostility between peoples, tribes, nations, religions and ethnicities are devastating, undermining the best efforts for human development. Human development needs to be seen in relationship to peacebuilding and a broadened vision of human security. For human development to occur, we must work to end the destructive force of conflict and disharmony among peoples.
Action Step: Link MDG achievement with peacebuilding efforts.
These recommendations are not stated as substitutes or replacements for other efforts on the part of governments and civil society, but rather as complements to these other efforts.
The Universal Peace Federation has capacity in each of these areas and is committed to supporting the UN, UNESCO, member states, and other NGOs, CSOs, etc., to help with the achievement of the MDGs.
Thank you for allowing me some time to offer these reflections.
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