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Peace Education

Americas Summit: A New Vision of Peace for the Americas

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The Americas Summit in Washington, DC, April 28 to May 2, 2008, brought together 160 delegates from 32 nations in North and South America from Canada to Argentina and Chile to consider the challenges and opportunities for better relationships throughout the hemisphere. The conference participants included six former heads of state and government, four current speakers of the house, 27 congressmen and senators from different legislatures, members of the diplomatic corps, clergy from key faith traditions, and community, youth and women leaders.

With the hopeful news of the election of new governments in many nations on the one hand, and concern about the rise of potentially destabilizing populist movements on the other, the participants were set the difficult task of examining new paradigms for leadership and development.

Some speakers proposed that the region can take up the road of peace by sustained economic growth accompanied by genuine human development. “The best way to achieve sustainable growth in our countries,” said Hon Lilian Samaniego, a senator from Paraguay, “is through international cooperation. This collaboration should include Latin American countries themselves along with our North American neighbors and our European friends, with whom we share profound historical and cultural ties.”

Hon. Peter Montoute, Vice Prime Minister of St. Lucia, said that the Caribbean nations with their experiences in the areas of human rights, adherence to the rule of law, and smooth transfer of governments can be positive influences in any closer ties which may be established within the region.

We present excerpts from six speeches that reflect a diversity of backgrounds and experiences but express similar visions for collaborations to promote peace and development.

The event was part of UPF’s series of International Leadership Conferences, designed to examine in some depth the importance of shared spiritual and cultural values as the most important ingredient for change. The ILC introduced the key concepts of the UPF Peace Education curriculum, which emphasizes strong families, interfaith unity, and an unwavering commitment to personal integrity and self-discipline as the foundations for lasting change.

One of the highlights of the three-day conference was a field trip by chartered flight to the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas. Newly renovated, the library offers an intimate glimpse into the long life of public service of the former president, and was of great interest to many of the delegates from South and Central America who remember the Bush presidency’s welcome focus on the region.

“We believe that groups of political, religious and community leaders such as these working together in new partnerships hold the key to lasting peace,” said Dr. Thomas Walsh, the UPF Secretary General. Leaders should act not like the quarreling brothers that they sometimes were while in active office, but with wisdom and impartiality act more like the parents of their nations.

“Of course, some may indeed doubt that peace is possible,” said Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon in her closing address, “but where there is a will, there is always a way—especially if it is the will of God!”

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