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Peace Education

International Leadership Conference Held in Uruguay


Montevideo, Uruguay - "Towards a New Paradigm of Peace and Human Development in Latin America" was the title of an International Leadership Conference in Montevideo April 21-23, 2014. It was an effort of UPF to find ways to confront the challenges of peaceful coexistence in a region of this globalized world where various crises that seem to revive old disputes are flourishing.

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Some 90 delegates from 16 nations, including Ambassadors for Peace from the Americas and a group of journalists, from Korea attended the sessions. The audience grew to 200 participants when Mrs. Selina Sun Jin Moon read the message of her mother, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of UPF, during the most intense day of the conference.

The meeting, which took place at the Radisson Montevideo Victoria Plaza Hotel, sought to strengthen bonds and promote North-South cooperation. It featured contributions by outstanding specialists and dignitaries, including brilliant discourses by two former presidents of Uruguay, Dr. Julio Maria Sanguinetti and Dr. Luis Alberto Lacalle, who is currently a senator.

"Germinating the seed of peace"

A warm spirit pervaded the opening of the International Leadership Conference (ILC), including eloquent words and musical presentations, that connected the participants from throughout the Americas with invisible bonds through the customary hospitality of the Uruguayan people. "Many, many thanks for your valuable presence in our country," said former First Lady Maria de las Mercedes Menafra in her words of welcome. She is the wife of Dr. Jorge Batlle, who was president of Uruguay from 2000 to 2005. She spoke of several "spiritual guides" who inspire her daily work for peace, which she said ought to be one's "attitude of life." She referred to the importance of art as "a mighty well-spring of energy" to achieve this cherished desire. She expressed her desire that this time together would be "a time for peace, a time for love, a time for sharing, and a time when this seed can germinate in each of us."

"It is a pleasure to be in Uruguay again," said Dr. Thomas Walsh, president of UPF International, after a video that portrayed the global activities of UPF as as "agents of change." It also showed the historic occasions when the founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, sought to strengthen the bonds among people in the region: "Toward One Christian Family under God" (1995) and the "Americas Summit" (2008). "We have assembled in that same spirit and seek to go forward," he said, affirming the purpose of strengthening ties among the countries of the hemisphere. "We are here to see how we can harmonize our points in common with the special interests of each country," he concluded and then enumerated several peace initiatives which have been developed at critical moments when old conflicts of the "Cold War" resurfaced.

Rev. Dong Mo Shin and Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, chairmen of UPF-Latin America and UPF-North America, respectively, emphasized the value of this conference in Uruguay as a continuation of the line of investment of the UPF founders in South America, particularly since 1995. "They devoted much effort in these lands in order to establish 'one family under God,'" said Rev. Shin in his brief message read in Spanish. "Mother Moon emphasizes cooperative efforts between North and South America" with the expectation that "unity among the leaders of the Americas will be the vanguard of world peace." Dr. Kim indicated that he was "truly impacted" by this encounter, which he considers to "have great significance" for "working for peace and the well being of all humanity."

Dr. Neudir Simao Ferabolli, Secretary General of UPF-Latin America and master of ceremonies at the opening banquet, gave a warm welcome in Portuguese, his mother tongue. A blessing prayer for the meal was offered by Pastor Dr. Charles William Schultz from Colombia. Moving musical entertainment was provided by Maestro Enrique Gomez, accompanied by his wife, the singer Gabriela Richieri. They offered a combination of tango, Eastern milonga, African music, family songs (with their daughter playing the violin) and a Korean folk song, "Arirang," as a surprise for the audience. It was a warm opening of the event and encouraged a sense of brotherhood among the diverse group of participants, an appropriate atmosphere for germinating the seed of peace.

"A call to action"

"On this great continent, and throughout this hemisphere, all people aspire to live in freedom and in harmony with one another as brothers and sisters, and in harmony with nature. This ideal has been God’s very own cherished hope and the desire of humankind throughout the ages. I believe that at this time in history we are faced with an urgent challenge to make this ideal a living reality," Mrs. Selina Sun Jin Moon said at the beginning of the message which her mother, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, sent to the ILC. It was the morning plenary session on April 22 with 200 guests in the auditorium, preceded by a video about the challenges of working for a new world and the words of Dr. Charles S. Yang and Dr. Thomas Walsh, leaders of UPF International.

"Our world faces many difficulties, from climate change and poverty to geopolitical tension and conflict. South and North America face problems of their own. Nevertheless, I believe that the peoples of these two continents have enormous potential and can stand at the forefront in building a new world of lasting peace and prosperity. Now heavenly fortune is focused on this region," she continued, reading with emotion various passages under the title "Our Challenge at This Time: Building a World of Lasting Peace in the Americas the World."

The end of the message contained a "call to action," with three points. In the first place, referring to the imperative to "live in harmony with nature," she mentioned the scandalous figure of more than 20 million people who die of hunger a year. "My husband has always taught that marine resources are necessary to resolve the food crisis, while at the same time preventing pollution." In the second place, she called for people to make the ideal of "one family under God" a reality. "My husband and I have worked to achieve this goal through the Marriage Blessing movement, encouraging international, interreligious and interracial marriages and the creation of ideal families. Through such families, we can reconcile enemies and bring the world into unity, she emphasized.

"Third, I also ask that you take the lead in promoting reconciliation and unity among all the religious traditions in North and South America. A peaceful world begins with reconciliation and unity among religions," she said. "In this way we can rebuild and renew our nations and establish a world of lasting peace, as envisioned by God from the beginning of time. Such a world goes beyond the divisions of religion, race, ethnicity and nationality. God’s ideal world is a borderless world of freedom, peace, unity and happiness," in the words of Dr. Moon through the voice of her daughter, director of the Pacific Rim Education Foundation and responsible for various other organizations, who arrived in Montevideo accompanied by her husband, In Sup Park.

Translated by Joy Pople

Founder's Address
Senator Carlos Bariabar
PowerPoint overview: UPF in Latin America

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