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ILC2021 Asia Pacific: Executive Summary

Thailand-2021-05-01-ILC2021 Asia Pacific: Executive Summary

Asia Pacific—UPF-Asia Pacific convened the three-day virtual International Leadership Conference 2021 (ILC2021) from April 29 to May 1, 2021, under the theme, “Toward Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Creating the Foundation for a Unified World.”

The ILC2021 was concurrently held in four other regions: Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East and Japan and featured sessions highlighting the work of UPF’s eight associations dedicated to heads of state, first ladies and women leaders, parliamentarians, religious leaders, media professionals, academicians, business leaders, and art and culture.

Around 20,000 people from 45 countries registered for the Asia Pacific regional program and an estimated 250,000 people have viewed it via YouTube and other social media platforms. Among the 80 speakers were nine former heads of state, first ladies and speakers of parliament. The program was conducted in English and simultaneous translation was available in eight different languages.

The Opening Plenary, whose theme was “Steps Toward a Unified Korea,” was moderated by Dr. Venus Agustin, vice chair of UPF-Asia Pacific, and began with an interfaith invocation. Four religious leaders representing the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim faiths offered prayers for peace. Welcome remarks were given by the regional presidents of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an affiliated organization, in Asia Pacific 1 and 2: Mr. Demian Dunkley and Mr. Masaichi Hori, respectively.

Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, chair of UPF-Asia Pacific, in his chairman’s remarks, spoke about the proposal made by UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon to establish an Asia Pacific Union (APU) to usher in a new era of a unified, peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific.

Former Filipino congressman and mayor of Lingayen municipality in the Philippines, Hon. Leopoldo N. Bataoil, gave the congratulatory remarks.

Session Two: ISCP featured the International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP) and focused on the theme “The Role of Government and Political Leaders in Contributing to Peace in North East Asia and the World.” Keynote addresses were given by UPF International chairman, Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, and three dignitaries. In a video message, Dr. Walsh spoke about the activities UPF has organized to support the peaceful reunification of Korea and encouraged all the participants to contribute to this effort.

Former vice president of Nepal, H.E. Parmanand Jha, said that reunification is the only way to heal the suffering hearts of separated Korean families. He added that a peaceful and unified Korea free from the fear of war will be a catalyst for economic development in Northeast Asia. Former president of the Marshall Islands, H.E. Kessai Note, quoted UPF co-founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, saying that war is the most primitive and least effective method of resolving conflict and only honest dialogue can solve the problem.

Session Three: IAPP featured the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP). Prominent current and former parliamentarians shared their perspectives on the theme, “The Role of Parliamentarians in Contributing to Peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

In his opening remarks, Indian parliamentarian and chairman of the Northeast MP’s Forum (NEMP) and IAPP-South Asia, Hon. Bhubaneswar Kalita, highlighted that UPF has built trust and a foundation to contribute peace in the Korean Peninsula. Indonesian parliamentarian Hon. Dave Laksono mentioned that his country is willing to work with UPF in organizing an inter-Korean peace initiative. Former minister of foreign affairs, minister of public health and minister of education of Thailand, Hon. Dr. Krasae Chanawongse, and the longest-serving assistant speaker of the House of Representatives of New Zealand, Hon. Ross Robertson, lauded UPF’s tireless efforts in promoting peace and harmony in the world.

The minister of mass media of Sri Lanka, Hon. Keheliya Rambukwella, and a Member of Parliament and government whip from Fiji, Hon. Alvick Maharaj, expressed their appreciation to UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for her courage and vision and bringing hope to humanity.

Hon. Suos Yara, a member of parliament and vice chairman of the Commission of Foreign Affairs, International Relations, Information and Media of the National Assembly of Cambodia, said “Peace is not only the absence of war or armed conflicts but also the absence of widespread social injustice, discrimination, inequality and poverty. Therefore, we need to constantly build the foundations of peace. To fulfill people's aspirations for peace, we need a peace-oriented political leadership, political pluralism and a people-centric governance system.”

Session Four: IAPD featured the International Association for Peace and Development (IAPD). Five religious and faith leaders representing five faith traditions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, and Islam—gathered to share their insights on the theme, “The Role of Religious Leaders in Contributing to Peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The opening remarks were given by Acharya Dr. Shrivatsa Goswami, head priest of the Radharamana Temple in India and chair of IAPD-Asia Pacific. A Q&A session followed the panel discussion.  The closing remarks were given by Dr. Tageldin Hamad, vice president of UPF International and international coordinator of IAPD, who stressed that religious leaders need to roll up their sleeves and work together for the reunification of the two Koreas.

Session Five: IMAP featured the International Media Association for Peace (IMAP). This session, whose theme was “IMAP: Perspectives from the Media” had seven main speakers, among whom were journalists and leaders of media from Australia, Cambodia, India, Laos, Pakistan and Thailand. The speakers highlighted the role of the media in advancing diplomatic relations between the two Koreas and among stakeholders in the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, chairman of The Washington Times and international coordinator of IMAP, Mr. Thomas P. McDevitt, spoke about a new IMAP initiative, the “Partnership for a Free and Responsible Media,” which aims to create a framework for identifying major challenges and often overlooked opportunities for the media in the 21st century.

Session Six: IAFLP featured the International Association of First Ladies for Peace (IAFLP). Seven former first ladies and women leaders from five nations addressed the theme, “First Ladies and Women Leaders’ Perspectives on Peace in the Pacific Rim.”

Former first lady of Nepal, Hon. Hisila Yami, spoke about Nepal’s road to peace from its 10-year civil war and said that the integration of communist ideology and liberal democracy in the new constitution, promulgated in 2015, could serve as an example for the two Koreas to reunify. Other speakers emphasized that Korean reunification is possible, leveraging the diversity of perspectives of different cultures and areas of society to cultivate peace in the Pacific Rim, and the importance of North and South Korean women cooperating to drive societal change.

Session Seven: IAAP featured the International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP) and had as its theme, “Toward the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Academic Perspectives.” Academicians and scholars provided insights on how to achieve Korean reunification, touching on the pros and cons of different approaches that were utilized in the past and other measures that could be explored, and emphasized that regional stakeholders should not only think about their own bilateral agenda but the benefits that reunification could bring to the two Koreas and world. 

Session Eight: IAED featured the International Association for Economic Development and Peace (IAED) and convened business leaders and economists to address the topic “The Role of Business Leaders for a Peaceful Asia Pacific Region.” The speakers stressed the valuable relationship between economic growth and peace and the importance of nations engaging in peaceful dialogue and having good trade relations. This will not only be beneficial for the reunification of the two Koreas but also for peace-building among Asia Pacific nations and in the world.

Session Nine: IAACP featured the International Association of Arts and Culture for Peace (IAACP). In line with the theme of the session, “The Role of Arts and Culture in Contributing to Peace in the Asia Pacific Rim,” six speakers shared their perspectives on why arts and culture should be an important element towards realizing the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Dr. Julia Moon, chairperson of the Little Angels, expressed Mrs. Moon’s heart in establishing various associations under UPF including IAACP so that each sector of society can contribute towards peace in nations and the world. Special performances were given by the Little Angels and Asian Cultural Council.

Individual reports for each session:

Opening Plenary: Steps toward a Unified Korea

Session 2: Perspectives from Heads of State and Government Leaders

Session 3: Perspectives from Current and Former Parliamentarians

Session 4: Perspectives from Religious and Spiritual Leaders

Session 5: Perspectives from the Media

Session 6: Perspectives from First Ladies and Women Leaders

Session 7: Perspectives from Academicians

Session 8: Perspectives from Business Leaders

Session 9: Perspectives from Arts and Culture

Participants’ reflections

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