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Africa ILC2021: The Significance of Africa in Fostering Peace on the Korean Peninsula

Africa-2021-07-03-UPF-Africa’s ILC Demonstrates That Africa Can Play Big Role in Reuniting the Koreas

Africa—The International Leadership Conference 2021 was convened virtually by UPF-Africa on July 2 and July 3, 2021. The conference was aimed at strengthening initiatives and getting perspectives on the road map towards peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

The forum brought together a wide range of experts and stakeholders to deliberate collaboratively, offering insights and recommendations that contribute to building a lasting peace in the world, and more specifically in Korea. 

The conference, titled "Toward Peace on the Korean Peninsula: Peace and Security," was attended by thousands of participants in 63 nations in Africa and beyond. Immediate Zoom, Facebook, YouTube connections totaled close to 2,500. TV stations later broadcasting the proceedings brought the viewership to many times more.

At the outset, a video was shown summarizing the Rallies of Hope, a series of webinars held since last year when Covid-19 made on-site meetings difficult. The speakers were world leaders who support Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon's dual message of peace and hope. Some of the keynote speakers from Africa included former President Goodluck Jonathan and current President Macky Sall from Senegal; Evaristo Carvalho of Sao Tome and Principe; Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia; Salva Kyr of South Sudan; George Weah, Liberia; and President Jorge Carlos Fonseca from Cape Verde; and Dr. Hussein Mwinyi of Zanzibar. Also religious leaders like Imboni Dr Radebe from South Africa were highlighted in the video, to the great joy of the ILC participants.

We heard all these prominent leaders in chorus appreciating and congratulating the great work done by Dr. Jak Ja Han Moon, Mother of Peace, and clearly expressing their readiness to continue to support her efforts for the realization of a peaceful world and a reunified Korea

Then followed a PowerPoint presentation of the previous ILCs organized by all regions. On this foundation and after listening to a beautiful rendition of “You Raised Me Up” by Godson Ogurie from Nigeria, the beginning of the second ILC 2021 was announced by Mr. Adama Doumbia, the president of UPF-Africa and moderator of the session.

The Opening Session, whose theme was “Korean peninsula and The State of Relations Between USA, China and Russia,” started with the welcoming remarks by Mrs. Katherine Rigney, UPF-Africa chair. On behalf of Dr. Moon, she acknowledged the contributions of all the stakeholders to this important ILC and made reference to the 71 year-long road since the Korean war. She noted that no peace has come, but instead the involvement of world powers in the conflict has introduced other dimensions. This was highlighted as still a major concern of UPF to which the Rallies of Hope and Think Tank 2022 have been focused on.

Mrs. Rigney also stressed the importance of seminars and upcoming ILCs at the end of July and August 2021 and noted that the solution to the Korean Peninsula will necessarily involve world superpowers. She reiterated that Dr. Moon’s vision is the reunification of Korea, to build a nation that honors God. She said that the Think Tank 2022 is focused on this effort and thanked Dr. Thomas Walsh, the chairman of UPF International for his great work of designing and implementing these programs worldwide. She ended her remarks by thanking everyone for their presence and wished them God’s blessings.

Dr. Emmanuel Adu, a professor at Initium College of Liberal Arts, Sun Moon University in Korea, was the first panelist. He based his well-documented presentation on a public opinion survey and a comparison of the Korean reunification process to the East and West Germany reunification. Dr. Adu raised pertinent questions about the real desire of both sides for reunification and what kind of reunification they desire. The level of trust the population has towards the United States, Russia and China is also an important factor to take into consideration because it will determine the involvement of the Korean people in the process and shape the final entity that will result from the reunification. The German example does teach lessons that could help in the Korean case, but Dr. Adu clearly explained also the many differences between these two apparently similar situations.

In concluding his presentation, Dr. Adu observed that the Korean people are bigger than the statistics, and they, together with other peoples of goodwill, ought to use every means available to them for the sake of peace.

In his presentation, H.E. Dr. Beyon Luc-Adolphe Tiao, former prime minister of Burkina Faso, saluted the efforts of the founders of UPF who have been actively talking with conviction about the reunification of the Korean Peninsula for more than 50 years. Dr. Tiao noted that the relationships between the superpowers are directly affecting the relationship and the possibility of reunification between the two Koreas. He highlighted the importance of using the philosophy of UPF’s founders to end the Korean divide. In closing, he suggested a new approach: “instead of putting pressure and threating North Korea to abandon nuclear force, why not use it as a resource for the united Korea?” He ended his presentation by emphasizing the need for many nations to collaborate to overcome these tensions through multilateral relations.

Mr. Tom McDevitt, the chairman of the Washington Times, thanked and commended the previous presenters before making some valuable comments. Mr. McDevitt encouraged all of us to use every platform we have to promote Korean reunification, like UPF rallying everyone towards the mission of peace. UPF has stimulated a global conversation on this issue.

Commending Dr. Moon for the UPF efforts, Mr. McDevitt described her work as part of a new era of Asian civilization. Further, he pointed out that partnership with Africa is paramount as Asian neighbors across the ocean to the west, and the United States across the ocean to the east. In conclusion, he urged all to become loving citizens living in abundant peace.

In his welcome, Rev. Dr. Bakary Camara, the co-chair of the board of elders of the Family Federation for Peace and Unification-Africa, expressed his great pleasure to commend all presenters for research done and contributions in these talks. He extended thanks to UPF staff overseas and Africa for their dedication, wishing them Heaven’s blessings for their efforts. New friends of UPF attending this conference were also commended; he noted the growing membership as a witness of increased interest in peace initiatives. He reminded the audience the words of wisdom from the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon addressed to the two Koreas back in the 1980 on how to achieve re-unification. He ended by urging the participants to use all means available to rally support and make progress towards this noble course. Peace for Korea means peace for all of us in the world.

In Session Two on multilateral relations in East Asia, moderated by Ms. Susan Kone, President of the Women's Federation for World Peace-Africa, the panelists focused on the political environment in Asia and its influence on the situation in Korea. They discussed the identification of allies on each side and their influence on the reunification of the two Koreas.

While elucidating the factors blocking the rapprochement of the two Koreas, the panelists admitted that the future relationship between the two states can be strengthened by the UPF founders’ ideology and various initiatives.

Dr. Thomas Selover, an expert in comparative religion and East Asian philosophy currently serving as the President of Sunhak UP Graduate University in Korea, was the first speaker on “Multi-lateral Relations in Northeast Asia--A Value Perspective.”

Dr. Selover made a very informative and insightful presentation on how the common cultural and spiritual traditions in Asia that the Korean Peninsula also shares can and will affect positively their long-expected reunification. He expounded on these values and stated that these are a set of values that can help to provide a basis for reconciliation not only for the people in North and South Korea, but also between unified Korea and its other neighbors. In his conclusion, he said that a Heavenly Unified Korea may be created in a value-centered way through interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.

Dr. Effiong Joseph Udo began by stating that a peaceful reunification in the Korean Peninsula will focus on the next generation of Koreans and that he salutes UPF and Dr. Moon for keeping the torch lights of peace ever shining in the world and for the massive investment of resources for the reunification.  

Col. Tieoule Satigui Sidibe, a retired military officer from Mali and final speaker of the second session, emphasized a peaceful rapprochement of the two Koreas as a strategic solution that must be maintained at all costs. Further, he said that they should continue their social–cultural rites as preached by Reverend Moon so that when they unite, they may be more powerful than some of the superpowers and do more for other countries. The session ended with a very enthusiastic participation of the audience during the Question-and-Answer time.

The Third Session on the topic “The Bilateral Relationship between DPRK, South Korea and Africa” was moderated by Rev. Frederick Wakhisi, who serves as the executive Director of UPF-Kenya, started with the intervention of Hon. Anicet Niyongabo, the former vice president of the Senate of Burundi. After mentioning the benefit of a re-united Korea for both North and South, Hon. Anicet observed that African countries are better placed to champion the process of the re-unification of the Korea’s since most of the African countries have good political, economic and cultural relations with either or both of the Korea’s. This can be done through regional blocks such as AU, SADC, ECOWAS and EAC using diplomatic means.  Hon. Anicet remarked that African states would be happy to meet and dialogue with both South and North Korea for the sake of peace and reunification as impartial friends of the peninsula.

Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, former vice president of the Senate of Nigeria and chairman of UPF Nigeria, noted that if the people of the two countries are ready for reunification, then it is important to widen the scope of the soft power approach as demonstrated by UPF. For this process to succeed, there is a need to establish which third parties are tacitly or directly involved in the division of the peninsula. This is because the Korean division is not beneficial for the two countries or the rest of the world. Therefore, there is a need for dialogue that must involve two strategies:

  • Personal visits by world leaders from other countries. An example for this was set by Reverend and Dr. Moon when they visited President Kim Il Sung in 1991. This visit was later followed by some prominent world leaders.
  • Diplomatic engagement of both countries to encourage multilateral relations. He observed that it is diplomatic missions that led to the 2005 talks between the two countries.

Senator Mantu commented that reunification is important for the diplomatic and economic progress of the region, its allies and the world at large. He further observed that African nations desire to have unhindered and unsuspected relations with Korea, a process that is possible only with reunification.

The last speaker of this session, Hon. Issa Mardo Jabir, a parliamentarian from Chad, reminded the audience some historical facts about the relations between Africa and Korea. He noted that up to 1990, North Korea had good relations with African countries and was instrumental in supporting liberation movements on the continent. This occurrence was highly publicized by the media. It is against this backdrop that he brought out the role of the media in the conflict and subsequent reunification of the peninsula.

How do Africans contribute to this peace, he asked?

  1. Through the intervention of the African Union;
  2. Contribution of regional bodies such as SADC and ECOWAS
  3. Concerted efforts of the regional groups on the continents.

He further noted that UPF can also contribute to this process through what it is currently doing and leveraging its expertise and relations with the Koreas.

This last session of the first day ended with a very participative Question and Answer time with the participants, who showed great interest in the topics discussed since the opening.

The Fourth Session of the ILC 2021, moderated by Ms. Grace Victoire Gueye, a senior consultant and facilitator in program management, was the first on Day Two. It had the theme “The United Nations and The Korean Peninsula.”

Dr. Tageldin Hamad, Vice President of UPF International, started by giving a background of the UN’s founding values and articles. He further observed that despite more than 27 resolutions, three summits on North Korea, two summits by U.S. President Trump and still no peace in sight, the position of the United Nations is that there is still hope. He said that the United Nations has recognized the need to go beyond political solutions to include other players. Religious players were highlighted as the one major new party included in these peace initiatives. He noted that there have been significant changes at the United Nations over his 20-year stay there. Now it is agreed that inviting God to help address complex challenges is inevitable for attainment of world peace. Dr. Hamad further enumerated the specific initiatives that the United Nations has made and the results of making religious leaders key contributors, including support of many nations, introduction of the faith council, a nod from Pope Francis, among other positive developments.

Following Dr. Hamad, Barrister Jerry C. Edemeka, management partner at Alpha Juris Chambers in Abuja, Nigeria, referred to the United Nations as a creation of necessity, and likened it to a ship sailing in unsettled waters. In this regard, he said that no sooner had the ship set sail in 1945 than the waters became rough in the form of the Korean War. Recognizing the role of the United Nations at the onset of the Korean War, he commended it for all the efforts made so far. Analyzing all the efforts by the United Nations over the years since end of the war, Mr. Edemeka concluded by highlighting the need for more diverse approaches, most importantly involving God as the source of peace in our efforts. He concluded by reminding participants that the hope for Koreans and all peace lovers around the world is reunification.

Dr. Karambu Ringera, founder and president of International Peace Initiatives, Kenya, observed that in many other conflicts, the root issue seems to be that the solutions are developed from outside without considering the local context. In the Korean context, Dr. Ringera said that the need for more inclusivity to involve the local people, women, youth, children, neighboring countries, and the international community cannot be overstated. She concluded her presentation with a quote from Mother Theresa, “We do not have peace because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” Related to this, she said that the role of the UN is to remind us of this. 

The Fifth Session began with a presentation from Hon. Kassoum Maiga, a former parliamentarian from Niger, right after the introductory words from Dr. Paterne Zinsou, the vice president of UPF-Africa and moderator of the last two sessions of the ILC. Giving the example of Niger, his own country, Honorable Maiga narrated to the audience how insecurity negatively impacts the lives of populations. Back to the Korean case, he stated that the African Union is closely monitoring peace in Africa and also in the Korean Peninsula with an aim of reunifying the Korean Peninsula. The African Union conference on sustainable peace in the Korean Peninsula held on June 13, 2018, commended the holding of the 12th June meeting in Singapore in which the foreign affairs minister of South Korea and the North Korean president made a joint declaration of a new and peaceful state.

In her turn, Hon. Christine Gbedji, former government minister from Benin, proposed:

-The African Union should have a permanent representative in Pyong Yang,

- Demilitarize the borders of the two Koreas before their reunification and hold conferences of forgiveness for the purpose of preaching the value of forgiveness, which leads to unity.

The third and last speaker of was Mrs. Oulematou Sow, who proposed:

-We should focus on the role of the community body in reunification.

-The role of women in reunification is that they should strive to bring families that are divided to come together. Women have a lot of voice in the continent, so we can set up a coalition of African women. Considering that women are talented when it comes to family negotiations, they could spread peace in the other five continents. Thus, women’s conferences and webinars launched for reunification and permanent mediations ensuring advocacy and lobbying in the continents can lead to peace through holding meetings with civil society and other organizations.

-Political reunification between the two Koreas by meeting ambassadors of the two Koreas and having a high level of advocacy by going towards the United States, China, Japan, Germany to keep pace with the two Koreas.

Her closing statement was that we can’t say something is difficult when we have not tried. Cohesion between the two Koreas is important for their own benefit and also for the benefit of the other continents as peace and reunification will be realized.

To end the ILC, the Closing Session started with a short report by Mr. Driss Senda, ILC general rapporteur, followed by words of goodwill from Reverend Kadima, president of the Family Federation for Peace and Unification-Africa. The keynote speech was a message from Dr. Thomas Walsh, UPF International Chairman, who paid tribute to Mrs. Rigney, whose leadership enabled the UPF-Africa team to design and carry out this conference.

Dr. Walsh observed that the ILC conference had addressed two pertinent issues in the unification of Korea namely:

  • Superpower nations relations to the two Koreas
  • The role and relations of the United Nations to the two Koreas

He noted that through the conference, presenters tackled the role of the African Union in the unification of the Korean Peninsula. He reiterated that the Korean Peninsula represents a much larger global tension playing out in the world.

Dr. Walsh commented that the series of ILC conferences planned to be held from the end of July and end of August 2021 will feature other UPF Associations. Also to be included in the series is the role of religious and political organizations as they impact perspectives of peace and how this is translated into action. He Walsh stated that after the conclusion of the ILC series, UPF will continue with the Rally of Hope series. He pointed out that Africa has consistently featured in addressing issues of peace worldwide and of the Korean Peninsula. He explained that Dr. Moon recognizes that UPF-Africa can have an impact on the peace process and spurred all to work hard.

Dr. Walsh also announced that UPF is planning a world summit in November 2021. He informed the participants that UPF is developing an international center for peace studies, which will offer a master’s degree in international peace studies. He concluded by expressing a message of condolence to the people of Zambia following the death of retired President Kenneth Kaunda.

To end the session, Mrs. Rigney moved a vote of thanks for all who had participated in the conference at whatever capacity. She said that this conference has been an amazing experience, especially getting to know and understand how Africa can promote the reunification of Korea. She thanked Dr. Moon for encouraging the UPF-Africa office to use the online forum/platform to promote the agenda of peace and unification of Korea. She thanked Dr. Walsh for his guidance and directions. She also thanked the entire team, including President Adama, Vice President Dr. Zinsou and all Ambassadors for Peace who made this conference a success.

The session drew to an end with the performance of the song “Circle of Life” (theme song of The Lion King) by Wija Ghomsi Banda from Zambia.

Video links:


Session 2:

Session 3:

Session 4:

Session 5:

Closing session:

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