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Asia-Pacific ILC 2021, July 7-8: Executive Summary

Asia Pacific—UPF-Asia Pacific convened the first of three virtual International Leadership Conferences 2021 (ILC2021) it will hold this summer, from July 7 to 8, on the theme, “Toward Peace on the Korean Peninsula: Peace and Security.” The ILC2021 was also held in five other regions: Africa, Central America and Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, Japan and North America.

Around 3,000 people from 41 countries participated in the Asia Pacific regional program and an estimated 400,000 people have viewed it on YouTube and other social media platforms. Among the 50 speakers were two former heads of state, parliamentarians, former ambassadors, leaders from civil society and the media, and academicians. The program was conducted in English with simultaneous translation available in eight different languages.

The Opening Plenary, whose theme was “Toward Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Peace and Security,” was moderated by Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, a former Nepalese government minister and chair of UPF-Asia Pacific, and began with an interfaith invocation. Five religious leaders representing the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Taoist faiths offered prayers. Welcome remarks were given by the regional president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an affiliated organization, in Asia Pacific 1: Mr. Demian Dunkley.

Dr. Thomas Walsh, chairman of UPF International, said that UPF will focus its efforts on bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula throughout this year and will hold two more ILCs between July and August: one in late July, which will focus on track II diplomacy, and another at the end of August. 

Congratulatory remarks were given by Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, former prime minister of Sri Lanka (2015-2019), and Hon. Jose De Venecia Jr., 5-time speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. In his speech, Hon. Wickremesinghe appreciated UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for her commitment to and advancement of universal peace. He expressed that it is essential for Asia that the two Koreas unite, which has to be done peacefully, and added that a “united Korea means a stronger Asia.” Hon. De Venecia Jr. discussed a few proposals of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), an initiative of UPF, for supporting Korean reunification and peace in Northeast Asia. These include (i) the two Koreas adapt to global changes; (ii) the revival of the six-party talks on Korean unification; (iii) expanding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three to become ASEAN Plus Four by adding North Korea to the East Asian economic grouping; and (iv) transferring the International Conference of Asian Parties (ICAPP) Secretariat from Manila, Philippines to Seoul, South Korea.

The speeches were followed by remarks from two commentators: Hon. Ajay Dutt, a member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and chair of IAPP-Delhi in India, and Prof. Dr. GP Doraisamy Govindasamy, secretary general of the World Humanitarian Drive (WHD), Malaysia.

Session Two focused on the theme “Prospects for Korean Peace and Security in a Changing Geopolitical Landscape.” Addresses were given by Dr. Hyung-suk Kim, vice minister of the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea (2016-2017), and three other speakers. Dr. Kim shared a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between North and South Korea and said that if North Korea becomes open and cooperates, conflicts will disappear and reunification will be possible.

In Session Three, four speakers presented their perspectives on the theme, “Korean Reunification: China’s Key Role.” In his remarks, Prof. Bo Zhiyue, founder and president of the Bo Zhiyue China Institute in Wellington, New Zealand, said that based on its experience of hosting the six-party talks in the past, China could very well play a more effective role in Korean reunification by hosting multilateral talks on the issue. Furthermore, it is imperative that China, a regional leader and an emerging global leader, plays a constructive leadership role in international affairs. The Korean reunification process can provide an excellent opportunity for China to exercise that kind of leadership.

Session Four brought together three academicians and a former government official to share their insights on the theme, “Achieving Sustainable Peace in Korea: A Multilateral Challenge for the Asia Pacific.”

Mr. Subash Kaji Shrestha, deputy secretary general of the Asian Regional Institute of Juche Idea (ARJI) and former deputy mayor of Dhulikhel municipality in Nepal, said the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018 signed by President of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un and president of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in is a landmark for national reunification. Not only can it further accelerate the development of inter-Korean relations, but also open up a new heyday of national reconciliation, unity, peace and prosperity by honestly and fully implementing the Panmunjom Declaration.

Session Five, whose theme was “Re-Energizing the United Nations for Peace on the Korean Peninsula” featured a former ambassador, two civil society leaders and a UPF leader as speakers.

Dr. Tageldin Hamad, vice president of UPF International, underlined that while the UN has taken actions to address the reunification issue, more work and continuous engagement is needed to make reunification a reality. He mentioned that Pope Francis has expressed a willingness to visit North Korea and the willingness of the Pope to do so and the engagement of other religious leaders will eventually help this cause.

Session Six was organized by UPF-Asia Pacific and UPF-Japan on the theme, “Emerging Indo Pacific Strategies after G7 Summit – Implications for Korea.”

Among the five speakers were Mr. Yoji Koda, vice admiral (retired) of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force; Hon. Ram Madhav, governing board member of the India Foundation and former national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India; and Dr. Jessica Widjaja, a constitutional law expert from and chair of the W20 (G20 Women Leaders Summit) in Indonesia, all of whom underscored the importance of strengthening peace and security in the Indo Pacific region.

Session Seven had as its theme, “Challenges of Peace on the Korean Peninsula: Analyzing the Security Scenario.”

Amb. Yogendra Kumar, former ambassador of India to the Philippines and Tajikistan and former high commissioner of India to Namibia, spoke about the challenges the Korean Peninsula is facing, including those related to the pandemic which has affected the economies of North and South Korea.

Prof. Bo Zhiyue said that a peace agreement between the two Korean governments would not only officially end the Korean War but also end the war of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He proposed North and South Korea work together with other stakeholders, such as China and the U.S. to establish mechanisms for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Joining Amb. Kumar and Prof. Zhiyue as speakers for this session were Dr. Tran Doan Lam, general director and chief editor of The Gioi Publishing House in Vietnam, and Dr. Chheang Vannarith, president of the Asian Vision Institute (AVI) and chairman of the advisory council of the National Assembly of Cambodia. Dr. Lam said a policy of multieralization of relations and mutual respect for national sovereignty, independence and freedom would be a great start to bridge the gaps between the two Koreas. Dr. Vannarith emphasized that no country can handle global issues alone.

The Closing Session was addressed by former President of Vanuatu H.E. Ati George Sokomanu and Member of Parliament from Cambodia Hon. Suos Yara. Both of them congratulated UPF for the successful event and assured their support for its future activities.

Cultural performances were presented during the Opening Plenary and Closing Session and participants were honored with e-certificates for their participation.

Individual reports for each session:

Session 1: Opening Plenary: Toward Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Peace and Security

Session 2: Prospects for Korean Peace and Security in a Changing Geopolitical Landscape

Session 3: Korean Reunification: China's Key Role

Session 4: Achieving Sustainable Peace in Korea: A Multilateral Challenge for Asia Pacific

Session 5: Re-Energizing the United Nations for Peace on the Korean Peninsula

Session 6: Emerging Indo Pacific Strategies after G7 Summit - Implications for Korea

Session 7: Challenges of Peace on the Korean Peninsula: Analyzing the Security Scenario

Session 8: Closing Session: Summary and Recommendations


Media coverage on the conference

Peaceful Negotiation Must to Resolve Inter-Korean Conflict

UPF Creating an Environment for Peaceful Reunification of Korean Peninsula (article in Nepali)

International Conference on Reunification of the Korean Peninsula and Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific Region Concluded (all articles in Nepali)

Peace and Security aspect of Korean Reunification Discussed (article in Nepali)

UPF Creating an Atmosphere for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula (all articles in Nepali)

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