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ILC2020 The Americas Session 2: Perspectives From Current and Former Heads of State

The Americas—The International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP) addressed the topic “Perspectives From Current and Former Heads of State” as part of UPF’s global problem-solving conference. It was one of nine webinar sessions simultaneously occurring in three time zones (Korea, Japan, Asia-Pacific; Africa, Europe, Middle East; North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean) during the September 11–13 International Leadership Conference. The online program was open to all who registered and was watched by 632 viewers.

The moderator was Dr. Franco Famularo, who is president of the, Universal Peace Federation-Canada. .

Dr. Charles S. Yang (Regional Chair, UPF Central America and the Caribbean) also served as the organizing session chair with Dr. Famularo. He summed up the growth of UPF, especially in Latin America. He said that the United States and Latin America must strive for co-prosperity. Most new immigrants to the United States come from Latin America and the Caribbean, and many U.S. citizens have moved south, especially retirees. Aid from China vs. aid from the U.S. is very out of balance. Surprisingly, China is often the first country to help when natural disasters strike Latin America—arriving more quickly and with much more aid than the United States. China has sent many coronavirus test kits to the south, asking no payment. If the United States U.S. allocated even one percent of its military budget to aid Latin America, it would do immeasurable good. UPF Founder Father Moon emphasized many times that the United States was blessed not for itself, but for the purpose of serving the world.

H.E. Rosalía Arteaga Serrano (President, Ecuador, 1997):

The COVID-19 crisis underscores the significance and need for us to work together throughout all spheres of life. It should be the priority of all our nations. I have been a teacher most of my adult life. Education is of paramount importance. This virus has shown that the government cannot disregard either the system of public health and supplies, nor education. Hundreds of thousands of young people are outside the education system right now and being left behind. UNESCO is saying that we are going to lose 10 years in education because of COVID.

We need to pay attention to three fundamental factors: (1) Training of our teachers. We should elevate their capacity in how to use the technology of the digital world; (2) Connectivity. We must have internet access into the smallest localities; and (3) Computer hardware, cell phones, iPads need to be made available and distributed everywhere. We need to create emergency funds that can be used in crises like these. We must also fight corruption. Corruption is a cancer in our democracies. Education is key to overcoming corruption. UPF is creating a wave of hope by bringing us together.

H.E. Jocelerme Privert (President, Haiti, 2016-2017):

Coronavirus is one of the greatest and most destabilizing challenges in the world. Even the most developed economies are not sheltered from the devastation. We are finding how vulnerable we are, and we are learning the limits of our technologies. This continent has many structural weaknesses that were there before the crisis, and they stand out now in sharp relief. The social movements in many countries are rising. In Haiti we have medical shortages due to lack of preparation. Schools are closed, and education is suffering. Even after COVID subsides, there will be many economic difficulties. COVID knows no boundaries between nations. But even with all this, we are in a race to build a world of peace. Wars and crises are as old as humanity. Social injustice and poverty need to be mitigated and overcome. Civil society must examine the reasons behind violence and social conflict.

Hon. David Kilgour (Canada’s Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, 2002–2003 and for Africa, Caribbean and Latin America, 1997–2002):

All of us remember what we were doing on this date in 2001, when the Trade Towers were struck. Congratulations to UPF on its 15th anniversary, and to its founders, Dr. and Mrs. Moon. Globally, Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on our countries. The only bright spot is that it has caused us to improve our hygiene. This crisis also brings to the surface and spotlights those who care. (He cited emergency workers and first responders.)

The national leaders whose respective citizens are emerging from the pandemic fastest and least damaged are often among the world’s 19 women leaders. They place health before the economy with leadership styles that are both empathetic and assertive. Effective strategies require a willingness to listen to health experts and scientists and then take decisive action on the best available evidence—easy in theory but difficult in practice. Leaders with these unique skills care deeply about people, says Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern early on imposed self-isolation on all entering her country. She ignored WHO advice not to close airports to foreigners and moved to lockdown when New Zealand had fewer than 150 confirmed cases. As of September 4, there have been only 22 deaths.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen stopped the spread of Covid-19 by speedily closing her country to visitors from Wuhan and later from all of China. A lockdown wasn’t needed. Just 489 Covid-19 cases and 7 deaths in Taiwan. Everything stayed open for all 24 million residents.

South Korea is also a model to emulate in slowing its epidemic without locking down entire cities or taking authoritarian measures, although it’s currently braced for a resurgence. It has the best-organized testing program in the world.

Germany, led by Angela Merkel, was one of the first in Europe to begin fast-track tests for antibodies. She has been able to keep fatalities to 6,050.

Simon Tisdall noted in the Guardian that authoritarians make the worst leaders in a pandemic by mishandling their responses and placing political interests ahead of public safety and health. If Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited, concluded one university study in the UK.

Secretary Kilgour went on to cite others who had distinguished themselves in fighting Covid-19. He concluded on a note about values, citing of the importance of selfless values in all human conduct, no matter what—principles for which good people stand, and for which many suffer and die.

Hon. John Doolittle (U.S. House of Representatives, 1991–2009):

I express my appreciation to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who in partnership with her late husband, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, was behind the growth and development of the Universal Peace Federation. There is no other organization like this one today that seeks to eliminate the causes of global conflict over such an enormously wide spectrum of disciplines and spheres of human endeavor, among so many nations. Dr. Moon has shown a singular and unselfish dedication to serving humankind through projects such as this global webinar, and I’m honored to work with her and this great communication effort to promote peace.

Core values allow our nations to prosper together. UPF’s values of interdependence, mutual prosperity and shared values are the basis for cooperation between nations.

Two shared values that bring us together are (1) religious freedom and (2) faith in God as a foundation for our societies. Faith, and the understanding that our rights come from God, allows us to be strong in protecting all people’s rights. 

The most essential value to make our nations strong is respect for family values and marriage. Strong marriages, making strong families, are proven to impart to our young people, the values of love, faithfulness and loyalty. The family is the absolute cornerstone of the social structures of South and Central America. Loyalty to one’s family there is known the world over. For our hemisphere to prosper, we must uphold and protect these values more strongly in the United States.  

For a nation to be strong, there must be good governance and sustainable economic development. That’s why the core teaching of Dr. Moon, “Live for the sake of others,” is so important. Corruption is antithetical to good governance and comes from putting one’s self first. Selfishness destroys the unity and the spirit of cooperation, which is why our faith and family traditions are fundamental to preventing corruption.

All of us here have the same name. We are the Americas.

Dr. Michael Jenkins (President, UPF International; Regional Chair, UPF North America):

Even in the tensest times, faith leaders can find common ground. We began our program with interfaith prayer, which is need to emphasize our unity under God. Father and Mother Moon instituted the blessing to strengthen marriage to pledge fidelity to one another. When we have strong, loving families, the nation can become one family. When the faiths come together, there is a cultural and internal change in the hearts of the people. Mother Moon encourages unity in the Americas and says that exemplary heads of state, like those gathered here, can work to see North, South Central and Caribbean become one, strong family. She believes the blessing of God can pour out on the Americas. We have to protect our environment. Father and Mother Moon spent much time and resources in Brazil, in the Pantanal, in a settlement on the Paraguay River at Leda. That region is called “the lungs of the world.”

Aid and cooperation from North America is critical. With more interaction, we can help. We can work with the U.S. Congress and increase cooperation with the world.

An abundance of comments and questions came from our audience, many of them asking for further elaboration on the involvement of China in the Americas. All the comments and questions had some connection to the impact of COVID.

Dr. Charles Yang said that we need to convince the United States to contribute more resources to Latin America, as China does. China has a political strategy for aid, and so the U.S. needs to increase its awareness and aid for Latin America. Congressman John Doolittle reminded that peace is the ultimate objective of UPF (from his capacity as North American Chair of IAPP). He said nations can have ulterior motives for “helping.” We need to pay attention and verify the motivation. H.E. Jocelerme Privert commented on best practices coming from cooperation among the nations of the Americas. Haiti is a small country and cannot face the virus challenges alone. It needs the involvement of the U.S. H.E. Rosalía Arteaga said Ecuador is dealing with COVID and has had cautionary experience with aid from China. It has not always been good. She said, “I agree with Congressman Doolittle,” in that we get aid from China at our own risk. More attention to Latin America’s needs to come from the United States; if not, it may be too late. Ecuador was one of the first countries to emphasize masks and isolation. Hon. David Kilgour said he has many friends who say this virus is the worst thing to happen to humanity, even more so than World War II. Dr. Michael Jenkins spoke on the role of religious leaders in dealing with the fallout from the virus. He sees huge breakthroughs occurring as Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews and others are reaching out to embrace others in love and cooperation. These are the counter to materialism and approaches to the virus that stress material solutions only.

The September 11–13 International Leadership Conference was created to engage world leaders and citizens on issues ranging from rebuilding post Covid-19 economies to cooperative peacemaking. Under the rubric of UPF’s signature values of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values, its aim was to address solutions in commerce, health, environment, family, and social issues. “This year has seen dramatic disruptions not only due to the Covid-19 epidemic but in geopolitics, the world economy, the media, religion and all levels of society,” observes UPF Chair Dr. Thomas Walsh. “And yet, while there are reasons to despair, there is tremendous goodwill and desire to act on emerging opportunities and innovations that can relieve suffering around the world.”


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