International leadership conference advances global efforts to reunite Korea

Libby-Jane Charleston
Seoul KoreaUnsplash

New pathways rooted in interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values are being forged by global leaders in an ambitious effort to bring peace and unity to Northeast Asia, speakers told a recent three-day virtual conference on the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Some 83 prominent figures from the USA, Canada, and Central and South America spoke at the virtual International Leadership Conference (ILC) on April 28-30, 2021. “These experts from all disciplines, from heads of state, to diplomacy, media, business, faith, academia, and the arts, combined their expertise to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula and address other areas of conflict in the world,” said Dr. Michael Jenkins, president of Universal Peace Federation International (UPF), which sponsors the conference.

The ILC in the Americas was one of four similar programs happening concurrently in Asia, Europe and Africa, each with their own regional experts. The conference’s 10 sessions highlighted key areas involving government, media, the business and economic sector, religion, and arts and culture.

Former U.S. Congressman Hon. Dan Burton, co-chair of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), was one of the speakers. The IAPP, now comprised of current and former members of parliament from more than 172 countries, “is one of the most effective bodies of influence for peace that I have ever seen,” said Hon. Burton, who served 30 years on congressional foreign affairs committees. In the geopolitical sphere of Northeast Asia, “what happens to one nation affects all the others,” he said. North Korea’s isolation poses a danger, but “as long as there is talking, there is no fighting.”

“Patience must persist,” said former Canadian Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper. “An outreach between regular Korean people and civil society on both sides of the border must take place whenever it is possible.”

Panelists noted that the world’s free media should promote justice, peace, and harmonious alliances while looking for and creating “openings” to closed nations like North Korea and China. “One of the primary pillars is to promote and maintain awareness that free market democratic societies should tolerate and not be intimidated by the presence of free media spaces that are full of political opposition and critical debate or criticism of government leadership,” said Mr. Guy Taylor, national security team leader at The Washington Times. Mr. Taylor, who has reported extensively on Northeast Asia, said newsmakers can and should play a major role in informing the world about the Korean Peninsula and that media can build bridges toward its peaceful reunification.
ILC programILC

The session on the International Association of First Ladies for Peace (IAFLP) included Hon. Mrs. Mignon Bowen-Phillips, Second Lady of Guyana (2020-present); Hon. Mdm. María Fernanda Flores de Alemán, First Lady of Nicaragua (1997-2002); and Hon. Mdm. Emilia Alfaro de Franco, First Lady of Paraguay (2012-2013). They, and other speakers, noted that since the Korean conflict affects the whole world, all nations must be involved in its peaceful resolution.

Dr. Julia Moon, president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI) and the daughter of UPF co-founders Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, said women greatly influence efforts toward peace due to their “nurturing qualities,” and that world peace can be achieved when society centers on a higher power “as one human family.” Born in modern-day North Korea, Rev. and Dr. Moon fled the war-torn area to the south. “[My parents] devoted their entire lives to the cause of world peace,” said Dr. Julia Moon. “Their message is simple and unchanging... We must not repeat our mistakes, but go beyond the self-centeredness of the past and learn to live for the sake of others. Our world needs peacemakers, and women are naturally suited for this effort.”
Conference programILC

Speaker Dr. James W. Jackson, founder of Project C.U.R.E., one of the largest NGO suppliers of medical equipment in the world, talked about his visit to Pyongyang in 1993 and his views on the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung’s principles for reunification. Governing bodies must desire change for unity to come about as “economic philosophy determines politics,” he said. It is important to build strong relationships on the Korean Peninsula and create “examples of working together successfully” and  “a working model that could be multiplied,” he said.

Since the Korean War in 1950, the peninsula has remained divided at the 38th parallel, and no peace treaty has been signed. Rev. George Augustus Stallings, Jr., founder of the Imani Temple in Washington, D.C., said “reconciliation and justice” are instrumental to peace, and, “there can be no peace without the supremacy of love that would bind us together in oneness.” The elimination of all terrorism and weapons of mass destruction from the world is another important element for peace, said Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Harvard Ph.D. in Comparative Religion and president emeritus of the International Islamic Association of America. “Religious dialogue is very essential to creating solutions and long-term developments,” he said.

Launched in 2007, the ILC series is a call to action largely carried out by the global network of UPF chapters in 150 nations. Through the four regional ILC 2021 programs, “expert working groups” and a new Alliance for a Unified Korea has been initiated. ILC 2021 concluded with a global resolution of signatories committed to advancing efforts of reuniting the Korean Peninsula.

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I'm a journalist and author writing across a wide range of topics, including tech, travel, history, business/startups, relationships, beauty & fashion, British royal history, & local stories concerning Charleston, S.C (where I have a long family history on my father's side: hence my surname! ) Former HuffPost Assoc Ed, ABC TV, ATV Beijing correspondent and many more. Author of "Fatal Females." Mother of three boys: I will love them until the Statue of Liberty sits down.


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