Thousands of participants from over 100 countries around the globe joined over 40 sessions addressing critical aspects of peacebuilding, freedom of religion and conscience, peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula, women leadership, strengthening families, transforming education, youth empowerment, and peace and development service. The Global Peace Convention 2021 (GPC2021) convened from August 6-15 under the theme “Moral and Innovative Leadership in Peacebuilding for Our Changing World” and featured plenaries, forums, roundtable discussions, a virtual exhibition hall, formal and informal networking sessions and interactive messaging boards. A signature bi-annual assembly of the Global Peace Foundation (GPF), the 2021 convention was for the first time ever entirely virtual, greatly expanding its scope and worldwide participation.
With the tremendous shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing conflicts driven by political and ideological polarization, the world is in need of a vision that can hold together a diverse, global human family. Starting from the overarching vision of “One Family Under God,” speakers and participants worked to develop the “moral and innovative leadership” approaches from which to transform humanity’s greatest threats and challenges into opportunities to build a better future for all people.
Along with the many topical sessions, the Convention featured three main plenaries highlighting, respectively, coordinated approaches to peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula (August 12), women’s role as peacebuilders (August 13), and moral and innovative leadership (August 15). These highlighted much of the Global Peace work around the world even in these most challenging times.
Building a Free and Unified Korea: One Korea Plenary
One of the key focus areas of the Global Peace Foundation is building consensus on unification and reconciliation between North and South Korea and defining the character of a new unified Korean nation. Highlighted as a model from which to both learn and apply critical lessons in peacebuilding, the work towards a free and united Korea has engaged leading scholars, human rights experts, peace advocates and a growing citizens’ movement to imagine a new nation that can become a catalyst for peace in the region and the world.
In the GPC 2021’s Korea plenary addressing the theme "Building a Free and Unified Korea as a Catalyst for Regional and Global Transformation," experts from the Republic of Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia, Mongolia, India, China, the United Kingdom, and more evaluated the complexities of working towards a peaceful Korean unification. Even beyond official diplomatic efforts, the session explored viable options to address North Korean security threats, prospects for regional economic integration, and ways to draw attention to the many human rights and humanitarian issues affecting the Korean people.
Addressing that plenary on August 12, Global Peace Foundation Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon said, “reunified Korea with a clear national vision based upon the Korean Dream will undoubtedly play a leading role in the twenty-first century. Not only will it help ensure geopolitical stability in the region, leading to global peace and prosperity; it will show the rest of the world that even the most extreme ideological and political divisions can be resolved with a unifying vision.”
“If we successfully seize on this opportunity, the world will be safer,” Dr. William J. Parker III, the former CEO and President of the EastWest Institute, told the forum. “The Peninsula will be both safer and more prosperous. And other dangerous scenarios around the globe will witness the peaceful resolution to an otherwise disastrous outcome.”
Women’s Role as Peacebuilders: Global Peace Women Plenary
International women leaders addressed global participants in the Global Peace Women Plenary focused on the theme “Service-minded Women Advancing Peace in the Home and World During Unprecedented Times.” In the last two years, lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures and the challenge of working and schooling at home has acted to highlight - more than ever - the unique role women have always played in the home, community, and world.
H.E. Dr. Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, Founder of I-Care Women & Youth Initiative in Nigeria and former Second Lady of Nigeria, observed, “peaceful coexistence in the society and development cannot be achieved unless service-minded women in leadership take the center stage and lead the campaign.”
Global Peace Women Chairwoman and GPF Co-Founder Dr. Junsook Moon, delivered the keynote address of the Women’s Plenary. Dr. Junsook Moon encouraged participants to not to lose sight of the bigger picture in the midst of the ongoing pandemic:
“As we faced these emerging challenges, we have had to wrestle with how to find meaning in the sacrifices and turmoil around us. We have had to transform crisis into opportunity and turn despair into hope. The question we must ask ourselves is, “How can we, as women, as leaders, contribute to opening a path to a brighter future?”
Hosted by Mrs. Rachel Murray, the plenary brought together members of Global Peace Women's International Advisory Council: Hon. Lilian Samaniego from Paraguay, Dr. Nona Ricafort from the Philippines, Dr. Eva Latham from the Netherlands, and Dr. Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo from Nigeria, all active peacebuilders in their respective nations called on women leaders to continue pursuing opportunities presented in the current time of challenge. Dr. Junsook Moon urged, “I invite you to find ways through which we can reach for deeper reserves of gratitude, service, and unconditional love in our daily lives. Global Peace Women strives to develop education, projects and initiatives that support women so we can nourish ourselves, our families, communities and the world with these gifts.” Please go here for a full report on the Women's Leadership Track.
Peacebuilding and Our Changing World: Global Peace Convention Plenary
The 2021 Convention concluding Main Plenary on August 15 featured diverse speakers and interactive presentations highlighting many of the priorities addressed during the convention, including innovations in education, international religious freedom, empowerment of youth and women and innovative approaches to peacebuilding.
Former President of Guatemala and former Secretary-General of the Central American Integration System H.E. Marco Vinicio Cerezo in his special remarks commented on the significance of the message of the Convention and the work of GPF through this unprecedented time in history. “The pandemic has shown this world is increasingly interconnected and interdependent,” he noted, “We must see each other, more and more, and accordingly as GPF has always manifested, as a great family under God.”
Bishop Onuoha Sunday, founder and President of Vision Africa, encouraged a multi-sector approach to raise the next generation of peacebuilders. “Peacebuilding is the business of everybody,” he said. “In our homes, we are peacebuilders, in our institutions of learning, we are peacebuilders, those in the media world are peacebuilders. The key thing is that we should do everything possible to begin to introduce in our educational institutions the curriculum of peacebuilding […] and inside each person’s heart to be a person seeking peace.”
“In our homes, we are peacebuilders, in our institutions of learning, we are peacebuilders, those in the media world are peacebuilders. The key thing is that we should do everything possible to begin to introduce in our educational institutions the curriculum of peacebuilding […] and inside each person’s heart to be a person seeking peace.”
GPF Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon delivered the keynote speech of the Convention. He spoke about the many challenges faced by the global society, including political and ideological polarization, authoritarianism, as well as the many threats to human rights, particularly the freedom to follow one’s faith or conscience.
To address these and many other challenges, Dr. Moon presented a vision and path forward that could transform conflict while advancing new, creative solutions to some of the most intractable challenges in the world today. “To live together in peace and prosperity we must understand that beyond these many differences, we are one family who share the same origin in the Creator God,” he said. “The vision of One Family under God can unite us since it shows the pathway to true global unity in diversity.”
“The vision of One Family under God can unite us since it shows the pathway to true global unity in diversity.”
In order to understand how to build such a world, the GPF Chairman focused on the American experiment and its lessons for such a task:
The U.S. Declaration of Independence lays out the foundation of a principled polity with the words, “all men are created equal and endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights.” It proclaims the fundamental value and dignity of every human life, and recognizes as self-evident that the Source of that value, and the rights it entails, is eternal and universal. Therefore, those rights cannot be abrogated by any ruler or human institution.
Just as the American Republic built its governing institutions, a free-market economy and social institutions around those ideals, the global network of moral, innovative peacebuilders can work to coordinate practical, social programs and actions around the vision and principles implicit in the vision of “One Family Under God.” These would, in turn, build a culture to support families to raise the moral and innovative leaders who will become the peacebuilders of tomorrow.
A focus on character education “first in the family, then in schools, should raise future generations with the grounding in moral principles, the spirit of public service, and the practical skills to move the world closer to the ideal of One Family under God,” Dr. Moon said. These communities would be instrumental to raise the “peacebuilders of tomorrow” that would usher in a new era of peace and mutual prosperity.
The Work Continues
The main Convention plenary concluded all the events of the Global Peace Convention in 2021 with the charge to redouble peacebuilding efforts on all levels, renewed and strengthened by the content, interactions, discussions, and relationships throughout the Convention. Videos of all the sessions held throughout the GPC 2021 remain open for re-play On-Demand.
To learn more, go to https://www.globalpeace.org/event/virtual-global-peace-convention-2021
To view sessions from the Global Peace Convention 2021 OnDemand, go to bit.ly/gpc2021ondemand.