The Words of the Song Family
Valletta, Malta -- "A New Vision for Cooperation Between Europe and Africa and The Culture of Peace" has been considered by a conference of former Heads of State, former Ministers of Governments, current politicians and others from both Africa and Europe convened by the Universal Peace Federation and the Women's Federation for World Peace in the Presidential Palace of Malta on November 5. Europe's relationship with Africa in the context of the Arab Spring revolutions, the emerging powerful economic relationships with China, India, and Brazil, the need for gender equality, development, and aid effectiveness were assessed by political, diplomatic, economic, and religious experts from both continents.
After a banquet and an introduction from International President Dr. Thomas Walsh on the previous evening, the International Leadership Conference made its way through the early morning quiet of the historic streets of the island nation of Malta, a stepping stone between Africa and Europe, to the Presidential Palace, where they were welcomed by an Honor Guard of soldiers in colorful medieval costume on behalf of the Maltese Ministry of Tourism.
President George Abela's invitation, given two years previously at a meeting with Dr. Yong Cheon Song, UPF-Europe's Chairman, was graciously fulfilled not only through his Presidential patronage but also with the granting of the Presidential Dining Hall as the venue throughout November 5 for the leadership conference.
The Hon. Michael Frendo, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta, warmly welcomed the distinguished participants gathered from 25 European and seven African nations, with an additional delegation from the Middle East and one from Japan led by UPF-Japan's Chairman, Rev. Hideo Oyamada.
Speaker Frendo referred to Malta's long history of invasion and occupation, its neutral status, its current position as the smallest nation of the European Union, and location, less than one hour's flight from most North African capitals, as uniquely qualifying Malta as a host for a discussion of European-African cooperation.
The Opening Session featured significant addresses from H.E. Davidson L. Hepburn, President of the 35th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, who spoke on the perspective of UNESCO's mission and guiding principles in relationship to the conference theme; Professor Henry J. Frendo, widely regarded as one of the world's leading historians on the relationship between Europe and Africa, who delivered a masterly expose of the conference theme from an historical perspective; and H.E. Agbéyomé Kodjo, former Prime Minister of Togo (2000 to 2002), who displayed his passionate conviction about the need for ethical and religious principles as a ground for good governance. In conclusion, Chairman Yong Cheon Song placed the conference in the context of the visit of UPF's Founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, to Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan in July as part of an African Summit attended by 120 delegates from Europe. Dr. Song offered ethical insights and saw this conference, now on European soil, as a further step in UPF's contribution to Africa-Europe collaboration.
As an International Leadership Conference and a Summit Meeting for former Heads of State and Government, the Malta Conference received the generous support of UPF International particularly through the presence of International President Dr. Thomas Walsh and Secretary General Taj Hamad and of Former Heads of State and Government from Egypt, Zambia, Togo, San Marino, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Kosovo in addition to the President of the UNESCO General Conference.
This Session, chaired by David Fraser Harris (Secretary General of UPF-Middle East), opened with an important sharing by Egypt's elder statesman, H.E. Dr. Abdelaziz Hegazy, Former Prime Minister of Egypt, entitled "The Future of the Arab Spring." Dr. Hegazy spoke of his 30-year association with UPF's founders and their work for peace. He showed a video of the popular protests in Egypt accompanied by an account of his own key role in negotiating the future of his nation and insights into the current situation in other Arab States.
H.E. Dr. Mary Mbiro Khimulu, Ambassador of Kenya to UNESCO, spoke on "Women: A Bright Future for Africa and Beyond," testifying to women as agents of positive change in Africa.
H.E. General Malimba Masheke, Prime Minister of Zambia (1989-1991), urged that European aid be invested in the development of technology and expertise within Africa so that Africans can more rapidly take development into their own hands. He also commented that a UPF event is a place in which he gets energized because it is the place of concern for the suffering of others and of how to make things better.
Secretary General Hamad concluded the session with a very intimate account of his own interracial and inter-religious marriage and the profound experiences he and his white British-Australian wife had in linking with families from equally diverse backgrounds through child adoption.
The session was chaired by Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, Vice President of the Women's Federation for World Peace International, with input from a fascinating variety of European experts. Former Ambassador and Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, Dr. Walter Lichem, spoke on "African and European Values and Traditions as Sources for a Culture of Peace," and Prof. Unni Wikan from the University of Oslo, a leading anthropologist, spoke on "Women's Important Role for Peace and Prosperity," portraying African women as possessing great maturity and influence in their own society although sometimes disempowered by their loss of social connections and competence when relocating in the West.
Long-time Ambassador for Peace and former Minister of Defense of the Netherlands, Dr. Willem van Eekelen expertly addressed "Democratic Control of Armed Forces" and in more general remarks pointed out that his long career as a diplomat, government minister, and international representative has taught him that predicting the future is not simple because the future is not what it used to be!
Speaking under the topic, "New Approaches to Dialogue and Cooperation between Islam and the West in the Mediterranean," Prof. Emilio Asti from the Catholic University of Milan spoke about the Mediterranean world's great potential to play a role as a center for positive interaction between the three monotheistic religions and as a place to link Europe to the North and Africa to the South.
Mr. Jose Angel Oropeza from the International Organization for Migration, which has partnered with UPF on five occasions in 2011, spoke on "Recent Migration Issues in the Mediterranean" and provided insight from his experience as IOM's Chief of Mission in Italy and Malta.
Finally Adrian Holderegger, Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Freiburg, spoke of how religious traditions have a history of conflict but at the same time contain the ethical insight to bring positive change.
This panel, chaired by Robin Marsh (Secretary General of UPF-UK), was held in the context of the current review of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Paris 2006 Declaration on Aid Effectiveness Principles, which obliged signatory nations, when giving aid, to assist recipient nations' development plans to harmonize aid delivery efforts among all donors, to monitor aid giving, and hold aid recipients accountable. Paris Declaration principles also emphasize that aid should be untied (not given in order to boost that nation's own products and industry). The OECD series of High Level Forums are to be continued in Busan, Korea, at the end of November to further refine these principles and their implementation.
Hon. Noel Farrugia MP, Malta's Shadow Minister for International Development, who had inspired this session with his proposals for Malta's role as a hub for multilateral aid delivery coordination and as a location for capacity-building training and empowerment of Africans, spoke of the relationship between UPF and Malta in that development process. UPF with its focus on 'good governance' and values education and Malta's ability to embrace neighboring African nations could have a complementary relationship, he explained. He also proposed inter-parliamentary friendship committees between Malta and African nations' parliamentarians, to facilitate and monitor aid delivery.
Bedreldin Shutta Mahmoud, who has had 15 years experience in the aid and development area with Medecin Sans Frontiers, Oxfam, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Islamic Relief, placed emphasis on the role of national community aid organizations (NCAOs). He explained that there was a gap in aid and development that could be filled by nurturing national or local community civil society organizations in Africa. He explained that international aid has often been ineffective and donor-driven because of the lack of local knowledge and stated that NCAOs could be far more efficient than the national government, but they needed capacity-building investment in order to work effectively. He suggested that they should be included as equal partners in the aid delivery process to allow ownership.
Dr. Andrew Nevin, a leading strategic thinker who is the Strategy Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, summarized the future economic trends affecting Europe and Africa posing the question, "Does Africa Need Europe as Much as Europe Needs Africa?" He charted the trade flows of emerging markets between Latin America, India, and China in comparison to developed nations including Europe and projected forward to illustrate the stark difficulties Europe will have if it does not 'up its game.' The increased South/South trade is overshadowing North/South relationships. He commented that overall there is a convergence of GDP between nations. He added that six out of ten of the world's fastest growing economies were in Africa. China became Africa's number one trading partner in 2009, surpassing the United States. This trend is likely to continue, with Africa being a place of intense resource competition in an era of state-directed capitalism, he explained.
Dr. Hideo Oyamada, Chairman of UPF-Japan, shared his concerns about naivety among nations receiving aid from China as to China's long-term intentions in giving that aid. He also referred to the fact that China's development is occurring on such a scale that there are fears from rival regional powers and other economies regarding competition for resources. He highlighted common criticisms of the Chinese approach to trade and development infrastructure projects that fail to empower Africans themselves.
Baroness Gloria Hooper CMG, Deputy Speaker of the UK House of Lords, suggested an inter-parliamentary role for monitoring and guiding aid. She pointed to the role of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Inter-Parliamentary Union as models for how this could occur. She discussed the problems of the World Trade talks Doha Round and commented on the lack of fairness in trade relationships between developed and undeveloped nations.
In conclusion, it seemed that the news of Europe's diminished role in trading relationships with Africa would not be a bad point if African nations were raised out of poverty due to increasing competition for their resources. A world in which there is a greater equalization of wealth and opportunity would be closer to the Universal Peace Federation's concept of humanity as 'one family under God.'
At the conclusion of the first day's sessions in the Presidential Palace, participants were taken for a visit to Mdina the ancient capital of Malta where the apostle Paul ventured after being shipwrecked on the shores of Malta while en route to Rome and where he met and converted to Christianity the Roman Governor of the time. It has massive fortified walls, beautiful residences, and a public building within and is a must for tourists wanting to discover the original Malta. Participants took a leisurely and absorbing one-hour guided tour around this 'Silent City' and marveled at the panoramic view over Malta from the highest point on the island before returning to the conference hotel for dinner.
The second full day of the Conference was located in this well-appointed hotel overlooking St. Julian's Bay, one of Malta's many natural harbors. The day began with a High-Level Panel discussion, ably chaired and conceived of by Mark Brann (Secretary General of UPF-Europe) as a means to more actively engage all the conference participants by giving many a chance to contribute. The panel consisted of three distinguished speakers from Africa and three from Europe each giving a short presentation of their personal insights on key ways in which Europe and Africa can draw closer in years to come, centered on the 'Culture of Peace' as propounded by UNESCO.
The panelists were as follows:
The Hon. Pascal Gayama, Minister Plenipotentiary and adviser to the President of Congo, former UN Ambassador and Security Council President, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity, and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Baroness Gloria Hooper, Current Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords (UK) and former UK government minister
H.E. Malimba Masheke, former Prime Minister of Zambia
Robert Vandemeulebroucke, former Ambassador of Belgium to Nigeria, Benin, and Togo
H.E. Mary Khimulu, Ambassador of Kenya to UNESCO
Dr. Werner Fasslabend, Former Speaker of the Austrian Parliament and Defense Minister
After each had spoken, the issues raised, as well as others that had come up during the conference, were addressed in the form of comments or questions from the audience. There was a general sense of energetic engagement on the part of both panelists and audience in the issues broached, including further rejoinders by panelists to the issues from the floor.
Time was taken to introduce UPF's understanding of the necessity to consider universal principles, which can be accepted by people of all traditions and cultures, as the basis for a global culture of peace. In his PowerPoint presentation, UPF-Europe Vice-Chairman Timothy Miller pointed out two fundamental principles: the dual-purpose principle and its relevance to good governance and the pair-system principle as the key to establishing the family as the school of love and lasting peace.
Jack Corley, the UPF Chairman for the UK and Ireland, delved into the question of the root cause of conflict, as explained by the Unification Principle. Pointing out that we often try to deal with the symptoms of the problem rather than the cause, he explained how the Unification Principle offers a profound understanding of the cause of conflict from its very origin. This in turn leads to great insight into the process of conflict resolution and the important contribution that religion can make both in terms of interpersonal reconciliation and international peace-building.
In this session Tim Miller returned to explain in some detail about the life of UPF's Founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, based on the content of his recently published autobiography. Mr. Miller emphasized the need for mutual trust and a deep respect for each other's sincerity of motivation if we are to be able to work together beyond barriers of race, culture, and religion. In this context he explained that Rev. and Mrs. Moon's life-long devotion to the cause of world peace springs from life-changing religious experience and a commitment to liberate humanity from suffering as their response of filial piety to a loving God. The presentation included may images from the Founder's life as well as many moving quotations from his book.
It was followed by a deeply touching and heartfelt tribute from former Prime Minister Masheke of Zambia, who is currently President of UPF-Zambia as well as of UPF-Africa and who testified about the impact that Father Moon's work had had on his life and about how deeply moved he had been by his many interactions with Father Moon personally.
The session ended with a heartfelt and passionate plea from Professor Fatmir Sejdiu, first President of the recently independent nation of Kosovo (2005-2010), for respect for cultural diversity and religious pluralism to be at the heart of any new relationship between Europe and Africa, just as it had been the foundation stone upon which his own nation was built. In this respect he commended the great global contribution made to fostering and promoting cultural diversity made by UPF.
The final session of the conference was a presentation by UPF's International President, Dr. Thomas Walsh, in which he shared about how the Universal Peace Federation has grown since its formal establishment in 2005, on the foundation of Rev. Moon's early outreach to religious leaders, academics, media, and political leaders. With the aid of a video presentation as well as a PowerPoint, Dr. Walsh inspired the audience with the scope of activity in well over 100 nations throughout the world.
His presentation was followed by 12 awards of Ambassador for Peace Certificates, including several to distinguished speakers from the previous day who were attending their first International Leadership Conference, and by closing remarks from Dr. and Mrs. Song.
Conference participants had passed a very interesting but also enjoyable time with one another with many significant opportunities not only to network but also to build or further develop important friendships for the ongoing work of UPF's and WFWP's Ambassador for Peace networks.
The atmosphere of upliftment and the strengthening that comes when people who share a passion for peace meet together spontaneously expressed itself through an impromptu sharing of songs and dancing after the farewell dinner. Many felt this was a concrete experience of the culture of peace of which we had been talking.
One of the major reasons for the undoubted success of this conference is the hard work and devotion of UPF's staff and Ambassadors for Peace in Malta. Mr. Bryan Corlett and Dr. Nnamdi Ahunaya, respectively Chairman and Secretary General of UPF-Malta, led the way in much of the preparatory and logistical work, without which the conference would have been impossible. They received wonderful support from Ambassadors for Peace such as Noel Farrugia and Albert Rutter, whose connections and local knowledge were invaluable. Many thanks are also due to Francis and Tomoko Cassar and to Peter May and his wife, who flew in from Germany to oversee conference management.
Dr. and Mrs. Song, accompanied by Dr. Ahunanya, and Hon. Noel Farrugia (Malta MP) were received by the Speaker of the Maltese House of Representatives on November 8 and could discuss plans for future cooperation, in particular, a proposal for signing a memorandum of understanding for partnership between UPF and the Maltese parliament on efforts to facilitate substantiating the new vision of cooperation between Europe and Africa which had been discussed through the previous two conference days.
At the conclusion of this historic conference assessing "A New Vision for Cooperation Between Europe and Africa and the Culture of Peace," we propose that the relationship of Europe and Africa be fostered, for the sake of peace and development, through mutual respect, dialogue, and "people to people" interaction, guided by the principle of living for the sake of others. In this way, we can build a culture of peace.
Just as Malta has sustained its neutrality under many trials and embraced its neighbors to the north and south, Europe and Africa should hold to a relationship that recognizes their common interest in cooperation for prosperity and peace. By engaging in ongoing, constructive dialogue both Europeans and Africans can achieve greater awareness, understanding, and appreciation of one another.