Unification News for July 1996


International Religious Foundation and Inter Religious Federation for World Peace Representatives United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)

Istanbul, Turkey. June 1 - 14, 1996

On June 10, 1996 Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak, President and Chairman of the International Religious Foundation and one of six presidents of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace addressed the plenary session of the Official (Committee I) United Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). His eight minute address (see text attached) was one of several areas in which IRF and IRFWP representatives contributed to conference developments. (The International Religious Foundation (IRF) is a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (UN-NGO) registered with the Department of Public Information (DPI). The Inter Religious Federation for World Peace is currently seeking higher NGO status.)

The roots of Habitat II are two-fold. One line traces from that history of United Nations conferences and organizations oriented toward the matters of Housing, Building and Planning (beginning with an EcoSoc Committee on these concerns founded in 1962). Other steps in this line include the 1972 Stockholm conference on Human Environment, Habitat: The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (the direct predecessor of Habitat II), Vancouver, 1976. At the Vancouver conference the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements (UNCHR) was established. Habitat II occurs on the twentieth anniversary of the Vancouver Conference of 1976.

The second series of conferences which may be seen as predecessors to Habitat II are the recent world conferences which have occurred this decade: Rio on environment, Cairo on population, Copenhagen on social development, and Beijing on Women. Finally it should be noted that the sub-title for the current Habitat II is "The City Conference." This latter point recognizes the startling phenomenon of global urbanization.

Habitat II boasts of one historically unprecedented commitment on the part of the United Nations; the incorporation of "partners" into the process. Traditionally the United Nations has tended to think of its work as limited to input and consensus among member States. Here however, UN leaders recognized other important contributors to human development, not just States. Many "Partners" were acknowledged. From among them the more prominent were: The Business and Financial Community, The Scientific and Academic Community, Local Authorities (Mayors, Governors etc.), Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's) and Community Based Organizations (CBO's). These and other partners dedicated themselves to the pressing social, and environmental, and economic issues raised by urbanization, and the dream of adequate shelter for all. The conference was three years in the making, and the work not only of the UN but of the partners spanned this time period.

Since the UN wanted to incorporate the full benefit and wisdom from these partners, Habitat II was structured in such a way as to receive from the partners, input in a variety of forums and occasions. Reverend Kwak's spoke as an NGO representative. There were four main ways for partners to engage the United Nations community.

1. Committee 1 was the highest and most official gathering of delegates from the 154 nations represented. These people read their nations' official statements, and debated the articles of the "Global

Plan of Action," (GPA) namely that document which has the greatest weight and authority over how nations will be expected to respond to the social, environmental, and economic issues under consideration.

There were two ways in which partners could relate to this committee. A) They could seek modifications in the GPA. B) An extremely few NGO's (less than 20) were selected by the secretariat to address the official delegates of Committee 1. The formal texts of these very few NGO spokes people who entered statements in Committee 1, had the same status as official statements of member states, and their submissions entered the United Nations record as such.

2. Committee 2 was that group of delegates responsible to meet daily with representatives of the partners, to hear reports, anddebate the Habitat issues with them. Since Committee 2 was specifically designed to engage the partners, there was more abundant interaction between representative States, and those groups such as business leaders, or NGO's, who in previous times had virtually no voice at the UN. With Committee 2, partners could, A) Present the composite document representing their entire constituency, B) Make oral presentations to the Committee, and C) Submit particular drafts and formal statements from one's own unique community. These latter documents (both composite and particular) were added to the official GPA to form the larger documentary record of the conference, namely "The Istanbul Papers."

Of these many possible arenas of participation, Reverend Kwak was privileged to be invited as a part of this tiny group which, although not representing member states, addressed Committee I in an official capacity. This was possible for those who were selected following an official screening process in which the speaker had to submit to the committee brief biographical data with special emphasis on reasons why he or she is qualified to address the issues at hand. Additionally the speaker was required to submit in advance a cioy fothe text for presentation, which would then be reviewed for compliance to certain rigid standards for presentations in the Committee 1 plenary. Reverend Kwak's application (attached below) issignificant insofar as his explicitly Unification credentials were highlighted as strong reasons for selection, rather than muted in the hopes that the committee would miss or overlook his Unificationism. This bold affirmation of the positive qualities of attendance is crucial for the Unification community to recognize. The world's highest tribunal of leadership chose Reverend Kwak over many applicants on the basis of an application that traded specifically on his training as a Unificationist. (Without developing this here, teachings on "Kingship" should properly be considered when reflecting on this point.)

The other important, explicitly Unificationist aspect to Reverend Kwak's work in Istanbul had to do with the content of his message. Those familiar with Reverend Moon's teachings on environment, education, and global trends will readily recognize the unequivocal and uncompromised rendering of these positions in Reverend Kwak's talk.

While a quiet voice among many (literally hundreds... and of top-most leadership at that), Reverend Kwak's message was in fact radical and startling. Urbanization was taken for granted, as though a material force, as unchangeable and inevitable as hurricanes and earthquakes. Reverend Kwak, either naively or with haunting prescience and accuracy turned the minds of those gathered to a vision far more encouraging in its potential for the spiritual and physical health and welfare of people. Immediately following Reverend Kwak's address, Dr. WallyN'Dow, Secretary General of Habitat II, warmly greeted Reverend Kwak and said, "I read your remarks with great interest. Thank you very much."

In addition to Reverend Kwak's work in Committee I, Mr. Taj Hamad (UN representative for the IRF), and Dr. Frank Kaufmann played a number of important roles in the service of the NGO community. Furthermore, it must be said that Mr. Hamad paved the way for Reverend Kwak's opportunity. Dr. Kaufmann Co-Chaired the Values Caucus, which was that coalition of NGO's devoted to the spiritual and moral considerations of the issues at hand. Furthermore Dr. Kaufmann served as a member of the NGO steering committee, and as co-chair of the NGO drafting committee, devoted to forging a composite document representing over 2,000 NGO's to present to Committee II. Mr. Hamad served on the steering committee, and on the presentations committee which devoted itself to selecting, training, and organizing those speakers who would represent themselves orally to Committee II.

In all, IRF and IRFWP representatives were blessed by God to have a strong and positive influence on the efforts of the United Nations to seek ways to bring adequate shelter, education, employment, and sustainable environment to future generations.

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