Unification News for January 2000

WFWP International's Conference at the United Nations

November 22nd, over 200 men and women from 40 nations gathered at the United Nations' Headquarters to help usher in the International Year for the Culture of Peace. This one-day event was hosted by the NGO Office of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and organized by WFWP International. The day started with introductions to the UN's International Year for the Culture of Peace (IYCP,) UNESCO's role and current activities promoting understanding of this issue and hope to foster commitment to this global era of peace and reconciliation.

The first plenary session began with opening remarks by Mrs. Sugiyama, welcome remarks by Ms. Dorota Gyriecz, Chief, Gender Analysis Section, UN Division for the Advancement of Women, and a reading of the message of the outgoing Director-General of UNESCO given at the launching of the IYCP September 14th, in Paris, France by the New York Office of UNESCO's acting director, Mr. Alfatih Hamad. Mr. Andre Radolf, the Regional Communications Advisor to UNESCO-New York, outlined UNESCO's plan of action and in particular their Manifesto 2000. (For further information you can go to UNESCO's website and participate in their signature campaign online at www.unseco.org/manifesto.)

Dr. Hanifa Mezoui, Chief of the NGO Section of the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs also brought a brief message of welcome from the Secretary-general's office and gave remarks on "How ECOSOC NGOs Affect the UN Process to Help Build Culture of Peace (speeches will be available on the WFWP International Website www.wfwp.org, that will be up by the end of January 2000.)

After this session, there was a forum of eight speakers dealing with four (4) key elements of a culture of peace: The topics and speakers included: The Role of Women in Developing a Culture of Peace: Panelist—Ms. Tomoko Inukai (Author from Japan); Panelist—Dr. Anthony J. Guerra (Dean of Graduate Studies, University of Bridgeport.)

The Role of Family in Developing a Culture of Peace: Panelist—Mr. Charles Ballard (Founder and CEO, Institute for Responsible Fatherhood and Family Revitalization); and Panelist—Prof. Lan Young Moon (Associate Professor, Sun Moon University.)

The Role of the UN & Politics in Developing a Culture of Peace: Panelist—Dr. Nicholas N. Kittrie, Chairman, Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace; and Panelist—H.E. Ms. June Clarke, Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of Barbados to the United Nations.

The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Developing a Culture of Peace: Panelist—Ms. Camelia Anwar Sadat, Founder and President, Sadat Institute for Peace; and Panelist—Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, President, Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.

Following this session, there was a break for lunch. During the afternoon there was an optional section that was very well attended, presented by:

The evening session began at 5:15 pm with a reception in the West Terrace and quickly moved onto the Bridge of Peace Ceremony and Celebration Banquet in the Main Dining Room. The evening's keynote address was given by Ms. Maureen Reagan, Political Analyst and Former US Representative to the Commission on the Status of Women, and long time WFWP member. Ms. Reagan reiterated some of the steps and stages that progress has been made in the area of women's issues as they relate to the United Nations.

Before everyone shared the evening meal together almost everyone present crossed WFWP's "Bridge of Peace" to affirm their common commitment to the building of peace, one relationship at a time and setting the stage for meaningful sharing of the evening meal and entertainment. Holding the Bridge of Peace Ceremony at the United Nations was, for WFWP International, symbolic of Bridging differences at the global level—the fruit of many similar ceremonies performed world wide making sisters of previously "enemy" nations, groups or cultural segments.

"Reconciliation is an essential part of peace building. Without it, history cannot be resolved," said Ms. Sheri Rueter, developer of the Interracial Sisterhood Project in Los Angeles, California. "But with a foundation of respect, forgiveness and repentance, the new bonds forged between women are potent well springs of new possibility." All this happened before the group of 185 got to enjoy some remarkable talent from Japan and America during entertainment performed by the New York City Symphony, and led by Mr. David Eaton.

By the end of the entertainment and celebrations, everyone stood to sing together, "Let There be Peace on Earth, and Let it Begin With Me." The sincerity of this moment shared by people from all over the world—seasoned ambassadors, delegates, UN staffers, academics, NGOs and first-timers, reflected the unity of spirit and desire for a culture of peace that can be shared by all. It was a taste. And we all hope and pray for this seed to sprout and grow in the new millennium.

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