The Words of the Walsh Family

Outside View: New Global Peace Initiative, Part I

Thomas G. Walsh
Published September 28, 2005
UPI Outside View Commentator

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- On Sept. 12 at the Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, in New York City, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon announced the launch of a new global institution, called the Universal Peace Federation. The federation is dedicated to renewal of the United Nations and the establishment of a new standard of global leadership for peace. Dr. Moon is also the founder of News World Communications Inc., that owns UPI and publishes World Peace Herald.

We may have to go back to 1945, and the aftermath of World War II, to find a comparably bold initiative. This speaks to the conviction and determination of Dr. Moon, who considers that we stand literally on the threshold of an entirely new era of peace.

What's Wrong With the United Nations?

The timing for the launch of the UPF was not accidental. It coincided with the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, as it convened its 60th General Assembly in New York, including a 2005 World Summit of heads of state and government, called together to assess the current crises and challenges facing the world's premier institution of global governance and peacekeeping.

Sixty years of effort since the time of Yalta, -- and the subsequent agreement among 51 nations who lent their signatures to the United Nations charter, -- have certainly brought victories and accomplishments. At the same time, there is much work that remains to be done. Peace remains as evasive as ever, as terrorism, international crime, intra-state conflict and violence, as well as inter-state conflicts have continued. Our world today has changed dramatically. The United Nations emerged in its own unique context. Although renewal and reform have been encouraged and attempted, the global shifts and changes have tended to advance more quickly than the U.N. itself.

At the very outset, the founding fathers of the United Nations, the drafters of the charter, focused primarily on an organization for governments, and less so on one for people. More importantly, there was a complete disregard for the importance of human spirituality and the significance of religion in relation to both human moral standards and global affairs.

Absent religion and the recognition of spiritual principles, values and standards, the world has drifted increasingly toward analyses and prescriptions that are materialistic and secular in nature. In so doing, it has lost sight of the profound wisdom to be found in humanity's spiritual heritage. As a result, in the modern era, individualism, secularism, humanism, and relativism have flourished, while at the same time poverty, environmental degradation, HIV/AIDS, violence, human rights violations have also prospered. In a word, self-interest has become the dominant principle that shapes attitudes, behavior, public policy and culture. We now live in a culture of selfishness.

The United Nations was launched with its own fundamental values, not least of which was faith in the sacred value of the nation-state. National sovereignty and national self-interest were enshrined in the institution's structure. The United Nations is a club made up of member states. Religions, NGOs, private sector and civil society actors are subordinate and external to the logic of national sovereignty, and the linear hierarchy that leads from individual citizen, to government, to government representative, to the United Nations system.

The United Nations was built on the foundation of the value of national sovereignty. There was no higher authority, no ultimate being, known in religion and the sacred scriptures as God, Allah, Jehova, etc., who stands as the axis of morality, and of national and spiritual laws. Stated differently, the United Nations was built on the foundation of the value of national power. The Security Council itself is an institution dominated not by the peoples of the world, or even the governments of the world, but rather by the victors of World War II, and, it so happens, the world's dominant nuclear powers.

The crisis of the United Nations derives from two primary sources. First is the resurgence of religion and spirituality as fundamental human interests, needs and values that impact in enormous ways the worldviews, values and practices of humanity worldwide. The United Nations is unable to relate effectively to this dominant reality.

Due to the absence of this dimension that might be called the "heart and soul" of humanity, the past 60 years has witnessed a steady decline in values. The youth of our world are on a downward spiral, hastened by the decadent values and free sex promoted by the dominant culture, and shaped by a selfish, even pornographic vision of what is most sacred and special about human life, the family. The United Nations has been unable to stem this tide, just as it could do little to prevent the millions of deaths that took place under communist totalitarian systems in the decades after World War II.

Secondly, the nation state itself is in decline as the central organizational unit for human loyalty, identity and action. The nation state is in decline in an era of globalization, in an age where non-state actors, from terrorists, to international organized crime, to transnational corporations, to religions and NGOs act beyond allegiance to any national center of power. The nation is ill-equipped to respond or effectively address the problems we face in this global age.

This is the first of three articles.

Dr. Thomas G. Walsh is secretary-general of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.

United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of World Peace Herald or United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.

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