Unification News for March 2001

International Leadership Seminar in DC

by Thomas G. Walsh

On February 23-25 and February 26-28, in Washington, D.C., the IIFWP, along with the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, convened two International Leadership Seminars focused on the theme, "Dialogue and Harmony Among Civilizations: Toward Peace in the Family and Peace in the Nations." Each seminar was attended by 200 participants, representing a wide range of fields, including religion, politics, civil society, education, the media, and the arts. Participants from more than 120 nations were represented at the two seminars.

The seminars were initiated to provide intensive training for those interested in working with the IIFWP. The sessions included a thorough introduction to the founding principles of the IIFWP, as well as a review of its historical emergence on the foundation of various predecessor institutions that evolved over a 50-year period.

In the Opening Session, Dr. Wally N'Dow, Secretary General of WANGO, spoke with passion and eloquence of a vision for a global, trans-national movement among members of civil society. Dr. Neil Salonen, President of the University of Bridgeport and Senior Vice President of the IIFWP, called the participants to action that moves beyond dialogue. Dr. Nicholas Kittrie offered an analysis of the contemporary world situation as it relates to both conflict and dialogue, underscoring the problems of intra-national conflict. Ms. Karen Judd Smith offered reflections on the potential for NGO's to contribute to the renewal of the United Nations, and called NGO's to give greater attention to the significance of the family as a focal point for creating a culture of peace.

An entire session was devoted to the theme of "Toward Peace in the Family" and featured presentations from Mr. Jack Corley of the International Educational Foundation, Dr. Gordon Anderson of Professors World Peace Academy, Mr. Richard Panzer of Free Teens, Mr. David Caprara of the American Family Coalition. The speakers provided both insight into the families profound social relevance and practical tools for strengthening families worldwide.

The session on "Toward Peace Among the Nations" featured presentations by Mr. Taj Hamad of WANGO, Mr. Antonio Betancourt of the Summit Council for World Peace, Dr. Frank Kaufmann of the IIFWP's office of interreligious relations, First Lady Debbie Remengessau of Palau, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, H.E. Kemekeza.

Following the main sessions there were working groups run concurrently on the following topics: International Public Service, Interreligious Dialogue and Harmony, Character Education, and NGOs and Globalization. A special session devoted to the theme of "Creating a Responsible Media" was also held at each seminar.

Discussion groups throughout the seminars were organized according to geographical regions in order to contribute to the development of national and regional chapters. At the close of the seminar, the IIFWP's "Ambassadors for Peace: A Public Service Initiative" was presented for the consideration of the participants, especially those who wished to take an active role in the work of the IIFWP and/or WANGO.

The seminars were received very enthusiastically, and exceeded the expectations of the organizers in terms of the good will, networking, commitment and resolve for ongoing work that they generated.

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