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 Home -> Programs -> UN Relations -> International Symposium on the United States and the United Nations: Exploring the Future of US-UN Relations

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Closing Address
Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Symposium Chair and Chairman of the Board, IIFWP
United States

Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak
Symposium Chair and Chairman of the Board, IIFWP

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, the Washington Times Foundation, and the University of Bridgeport are deeply honored to have served as co-sponsors of today's program on the theme of "The United States and the United Nations."

This program has dealt with issues of fundamental import, including: The Future of the United Nations. The role of the United Nations and the United States in International Affairs. And, The Role and Responsibilities of the United States as a Member of the United Nations. The gathering of so many prominent international and American leaders has provided a most fertile ground for the discussions.

As the program closes, I would like to thank His Excellency Murari Raj Sharma and Dr. Noel Brown for their excellent work in serving as Co-Chairs of this assembly. I would also like to thank Mr. Douglas D. M. Joo, publisher of The Washington Times for his support.

In 1995, the Washington Times helped sponsor our first such conference on the related theme of "The 104th Congress and the United Nations." This conference also served to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

It has been six and one-half years since that program, and much in the world has changed. But one constant remains, and that is what the United Nations represents to the people of the world. And that is hope. The United Nations was spawned in the aftermath of a devastating world war, and offered new hope to a shocked and discouraged humanity. Although there have been many ups and downs for the world's greatest intergovernmental organization, the United Nations continues as a source of concrete hope for ushering in a world of peace, justice and prosperity.

This was recently reaffirmed with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Secretary General Kofi Annan and the United Nations.

In the past year, I have traveled to many countries. I have been in the frontier areas of the Amazon and Pantanal regions, to the islands of the South Pacific, the mountains of Nepal, around East Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, Russia and Central Asia. While I witnessed many devastating problems in each country, and have been profoundly saddened by the plight of so many people -- especially due to problems linked to family breakdown, and moral decadence among youth -- I remain an optimist with respect to the future of our planet.

And there is reason for optimism. As we reflect on the past century, the changes we have witnessed have been astounding. We have seen the development of international air travel; widespread electrical lighting; radio, television and telephone communication networks that extend even to satellites orbiting our planet; personal computers; the growth of the Internet; and medical breakthroughs. We have also seen the birth of intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations.

Of course, the past century also was a time of global conflict, with two world wars, the cold war, and innumerable other wars, as well as profound environmental degradation. And, as we started the 21st Century, we were sobered by the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Since that day, our world has been thrust into a crisis of significant proportion. And, as I believe we all know, the roots of this crisis are deep, and the solutions are not simply of a political or military nature.

We often judge the most critical problems of a nation, or our world, to be of a political or economic nature. However, while these may be among the most obvious problems they are not necessarily the most primary.

Although some nations, like the USA, may have great material resources, and great military or economic power, true power and authority is of a moral and spiritual nature. Ordinarily, when we refer to the power of a nation, we point to its military and economic power. However, true power and global authority will depend on moral and spiritual power. For example, if a nation can provide or exemplify a solution to the family and youth problems that afflict many nations today, it will become a moral and social leader to be respected and followed.

I strongly believe the United States, which has so much power and influence, should demonstrate moral leadership in areas such as strengthening marriage and family and the promotion of cooperation among people of different races, religions, and nationalities. I applaud President Bush and his administration for the efforts being made to support families, as well as religious freedom and greater understanding and cooperation among people of diverse religions.

One reason that I remain hopeful in the midst of tragedies and human suffering is seeing the character of so many good people - people like the individuals gathered here today. People, who, in the midst of tragedy, can reach for something higher and purer and better.

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the IIFWP, along with WANGO, sponsored a major conference in New York City on the theme of "Global Violence: Crisis and Hope." We gathered 400 world leaders from more than 100 nations - Christians and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, Africans and Europeans, representatives of governments and representatives of NGOs - to talk together and to strive together in the search for solutions to our world's critical problems. The sense of harmony, of willingness to work together among citizens traditionally labeled as enemies, was truly touching and reflected a deep potential that is there to be tapped.

Last month, the IIFWP gathered Muslim leaders from over 50 nations in Jakarta, Indonesia. The purpose of this conference was to look for ways that these great men and women, and the Muslim world, can take a leading role in advancing peace. This conference, too, was a testimony to the goodness that lies within the human heart, regardless of race, religion, nationality or culture.

I would like to thank all of you who have gathered at this symposium for your contributions to dialogue and the ongoing search for ways to make a better world. This program would not have had the same significance without the participation of so many distinguished leaders: ambassadors, diplomats, congressmen and congressional aides, NGO leaders, academics, and research fellows. We are indebted to you for providing us with practical insight with respect to the future of the United Nations, the US, international relations, and other relevant topics.

Our efforts this day, I believe, honor those whose life ended on September 11, for we have come here to help build a future where such horrors, hopefully, never happen again.

In closing, I leave you with these thoughts. There are three main guiding principles of the IIFWP, rooted in its Founder's vision. These are: First, live for the sake of others. Second, go beyond the barriers and boundaries that divide people. And third, establish strong, loving families. The roots of our current global crisis are deep. For there to be true peace, a new paradigm is needed which incorporates these principles. For this reason, Rev. Moon proposed the establishment of a council of religious and spiritual leaders to work in collaborative partnership with the representatives of the member states of the United Nations. That is, he has proposed the establishment of a council of religious leaders within the structure of the United Nations. The members of this council should be men and women of wisdom and universal vision, who look beyond the interests of any single nation, race, religion or culture, but seek only the well being of all humanity.

The United States has been the dominant world power since the UN was founded.
The United States' leadership at the United Nations since 1945 has been critical. What I call for, however, is for a type of leadership that goes beyond military and economic issues, and focuses more on core values and interreligious issues. At the same time, a more effective United Nations would also incorporate the council of religious leaders mentioned above. My hope is that the United States would help to see that come to pass.

The United Nations is a great institution, and yet there is room for improvement. For this reason, we need to see more serious exchange between advocates and skeptics of the United Nations in terms of helping this institution to carry out its mission of peace and fulfill its original ideals.

To do this, we must move beyond narrow self-interest. Each religion teaches that people should live for the sake of others. The golden rule -- "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them" -- is found similarly stated in the scriptures of most, if not all, religions. Leaders in all fields, religion, politics, academics, the media and non-governmental organizations should develop and promote attitudes of living for the sake of others. And ultimately, for a world of peace and prosperity, this principle should not only apply to individuals, but also to our public institutions. Corporations, NGOs, governments, and international organizations should consider what is best for humanity as a whole.

A second feature of the new paradigm that I am advocating is the need for overcoming the barriers that divide us as people. Throughout history, human communities have separated themselves from one another by grouping themselves according to a variety of external standards, such as race, religion, nationality, and culture. These divisions, furthermore, become entrenched due to language, custom, manners, security needs, and so forth. What is called for is a global effort to overcome barriers that divide people according to race, religion, and nationality. For this reason, the IIFWP has been vigorous in developing programs that promote interreligious harmony and cooperation. Peace among nations requires peace within and among religions. If we cannot solve interreligious conflict and establish genuine respect and cooperation, then a lasting peace will not be possible. The same ideal applies to nations, races, ethnic groups, and cultures.

Finally, for there to be peace, strong families are also needed. This is a third principle of the new paradigm. The family is the most fundamental social institution. That is, the well being of the nation has its root in the well being of a nation's families. When the families of a nation are stable and strong, the nation will be stable and strong.

As I am sure you know, family breakdown leads to a wide range of social problems. While we may treat social problems without addressing the family factor, our efforts will never result in the success for which we hope. Therefore the IIFWP, as well as the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, encourage both the United Nations and the member states to take most seriously the social significance of the family, and to take the family factor more seriously in developing programs and in seeking solutions to the world's problems.

Once again, thank you for your sincere participation in this symposium. Thank you for your commitment to establishing world peace.

May God bless you, may God Bless your nations, and may God Bless the United Nations.

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