Unification News for April 2004

IIPC-Oceania Inaugural Conference

by Rev. Greg Stone

The Prime Ministers from Samoa, Tuvalu, and The Solomon Islands; the First Lady of Palau; cabinet members from Papua-New Guinea and Kiribati; a Speaker of Parliament from Vanuatu; several former Heads of State and Government as well as eminent religious leaders from surrounding countries attended the IIPC-Oceania inauguration. In all, 77 participants from 14 independent nations and one territory were among those who attended the inauguration. This three-day conference with its theme "Building a Global Movement for Lasting Peace," convened March 9 -11, 2004, in Apia, Samoa.

Samoa was proud to host the conference inaugurating the Oceania branch of the Interreligious and International Peace Council (IIPC). The IIPC is sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) and from its inception this inauguration received, with gratitude, the full support and cooperation of the Samoan government. Invitations to the conference were sent out to Heads of Government throughout Oceania, accompanied by a letter of commendation from the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon. Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.

The decision to create a working partnership between both religious and political leaders is rooted in the strategy for world peace envisioned by the Founder of IIFWP / IIPC, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. A true and mature human being, Father Moon teaches, must have proper unity between mind and body. This model at the individual level also applies to leadership and good governance. Therefore, in order to chart a path toward lasting peace on all levels, we need to take into account both the physical and spiritual dimensions of human nature. In other words, political and religious leaders need to cooperate together in order to form a partnership that will be the most effective model of governance.

On the political side, the heads of government in attendance at the conference were the Prime Minister of Samoa and his wife, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, the Hon. Sir Allan Kemakeza and his wife, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the Hon. Saufatu Sopoaga and his wife, and the First Lady of Palau, Mrs. Debbie Remengesau. Current government ministers of Kiribati and Papua New Guinea came to officially represent their respective heads of government. On the religious side, participants included the Rev. Oka Fau’olo, Chairman of the Samoa National Council of Churches; Rev. Enja Enos, President of the National Council of Churches of the Marshall Islands; Rev. Pakoa Maraki, Secretary General of the Christian Council of Vanuatu; Mr. Ratu M. Saukuru, Vice President of the Methodist Church of Fiji; and Rev. Siketi Tonga, Deputy Archdeacon of the Anglican Church of Tonga. Esteemed regional Traditional Leader from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Iso Nahnken Salvadore Iriarte, who is the presiding Chairman of the Traditional Leaders of ten nations in the North Pacific, attended together with his wife.

The Opening Plenary began with an invocation by Rev. Oka Fau’olo who stressed that "we should never forget that God is the foundation for true peace." This was followed by the Welcoming Address from the Prime Minister of Samoa. Prime Minister Malielegaoi said that in Samoa the functions of church and state are clearly separated at the official level. However, as individuals "many of us are involved in both functions. For example, I have been Chairman of my Catholic parish for over 20 years now."

Rev Chung Sik Yong, Chairman of IIFWP Oceania, giving his opening plenary welcoming addressWelcoming Remarks were offered by Rev. Chung Sik Yong, the Regional Chair of IIPC-Oceania, who sincerely thanked the Samoan Prime Minister and the people of Samoa for their warm and gracious hospitality. The Keynote Address was given by Dr. Thomas Walsh, Secretary-General of IIFWP International, on behalf of Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, the IIFWP and IIPC’s International Chairman. Rev. Kwak’s address emphasized Father Moon’s conviction that "the greatest strategy to realize world peace is through loving one’s enemies." This is not only a noble endeavour, he stated, but also a methodology that the world at large still fails to really comprehend.

Rev. Kwak reminded the delegates that models of good governance are needed at all levels of government, from the United Nations, to national governments, to communities, to families and down to the individual level of self-governance. At the lower levels, he noted, it is easier to see that good governance requires that the physical passions be curbed in order to allow truth, beauty, goodness and true love -- -the highest ideals of the human spirit -- -to emerge. As simple as it may seem, setting the proper relationship between the physical and spiritual dimensions is a key element in true and lasting peace, individually and globally.

During the second session titled, "Good Governance for a World in Crisis," two Prime Ministers and a First Lady were the three speakers who offered their insights into the most critical issues of our day and recommended ways in which governments and political and religious leaders, as well as international organizations, can better contribute to peace, social stability and prosperity at a time of global crisis. The first speaker, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kemakeza, noted that "despite our differences, humanity is one." Emphasizing that "we are here to unite the human family," he explained that in the Solomon Islands "it is a time of national forgiveness and reconciliation."

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the Hon. Sopoaga, spoke of the need for regional co-operation and noted the introduction of a new Masters Degree program to be made available through the University of the South Pacific (USP) titled "Principles and Values of Good Leadership and Governance." The final speaker, the First Lady of Palau Mrs. Debbie Remengesau, immediately caught everyone’s attention when in a single sentence she combined her two roles: the wife of her country’s leading politician and mother of her nation. On the political side, she noted that "the seas don’t separate us, but rather the oceans connect us together as a family of island nations," adding with sincere concern that, "the biggest crisis that concerns me is the ‘family crisis.’ How many of our children will grow up with an ethical standard that teaches them to live for the sake of others?"

The third session of the day outlined the core values and guiding principles of the IIPC and was titled, "IIPC Principles of Peace and Good Governance." The speakers were Rev. Greg Stone, Secretary-General of IIFWP Oceania, and Mrs. Karen Judd-Smith, Director of IIFWP Office of UN Relations. The first commentator was Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka, the former coup leader and former elected Prime Minister of Fiji, who from his own experience and insight paid tribute to the things that make for peace, confessing his error in having "degenerated from being a peace keeper to a coup leader" while an officer with the Fijian Army. He reminded us that peace is the absence of fear, all the while expressing serious concerns about the future of Fiji with its racially diverse population of indigenous Fijians and predominantly Hindu Indians. The second commentator was Rev. Falani, the President of the Christian Church of Tuvalu (representing 94% of the population), who asked, "How do we avoid the path of violence and bring peace to the Pacific?" Drawing from his religious vocation, he believed an integral part would require "revitalizing our vertical relationship with God." The last session of the day consisted of roundtables on "Principles of Peace and Good Governance" with a focus on two distinct areas: government and religion.

Day two began with presentations by Rev. Stone and Rev. Paul Saver, Co-Vice Chairmen of IIFWP Oceania. They made presentations on "IIPC Principles of Reconciliation and Strategies for Peace" which were followed by commentaries from Dr. Raymond Anere of Papua New Guinea, Father Rusk Saburo of Palau, and the Hon. Jacob Nena, former President of the Federated States of Micronesia. Concurrent roundtables were convened focusing on the three sub-regions of Oceania: Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.

Given the intense schedule to date, an opportunity was given for participants to see the picturesque beauty and exquisite culture of the host nation. A breathtaking drive along the coastline dotted with small villages proved to be both refreshing and educational. Guests took in the volcanic mountain vistas with lush green growth and then headed to the pristine beaches on the other side of the island. It’s no wonder that Samoa is known as the "treasure islands" and why the famous Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, settled in Samoa in the twilight of his life and later died here.

On the final day of the conference, presentations were offered by Dr. Walsh and Mrs. Smith on the "IIPC Vision and Understanding of Human Development." The IIPC’s principles of human development were expounded and followed by examples of the practical application of these principles. Rev. Saver spoke on Character Education in Oceania and the Interreligious Peace Sports Festival. Mrs. Leona Didsbury of New Zealand spoke on "HIV/AIDS Prevention: A Character Development Approach." Later Rev. Yves Moreau, Co-Director, IIFWP Samoa, accompanied by several Samoan youth, gave a martial arts presentation and spoke on youth leadership. Finally, Oceania World CARP Consultant, Rev. Insung Moon, gave an impassioned presentation on "Leadership Development: Core Values," developed by World CARP President Hyun Jin Moon, based on his father’s teachings.

As the conference drew to a conclusion, it was undoubtedly evident that a new-found respect and closeness among the participants had been forged. They had been inspired by the vision and teachings of IIFWP/IIPC and despite the fact that different views had been aired and some tense dialogue had been shared, the Spirit of God had touched each heart making us a family.

The final conference session consisted of closing remarks by key staff members and some participant reflections. Rev. Yong shared Father Moon’s insight and love for island nations when he said that a "unified world begins in Oceania." He inspired delegates with Father Moon’s concept of the role island nations will play in the 21st century and concluded by inviting each nation to send a representative Ambassador for Peace to the Solomon Islands later this year in August for a Peace Rally of 20,000 people followed by an interfaith family rededication and Blessing. At the end of this session, 21 new Ambassadors for Peace were appointed and the "Apia Resolution" was adopted and signed by the delegates.

That evening the Prime Minister and the First Lady graciously welcomed the guests at a gala reception hosted by the Samoan Government held at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. In a beautiful mountainside retreat surrounded by immaculate gardens and expanses of manicured lawns, each person felt like an honoured guest. Traditional Samoan cuisine and a cultural performance closed out the never-to-be-forgotten IIPC-Oceania inaugural conference.

The next regional IIPC conference will be held in Canberra, Australia in May 2005.

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