Unification News for March 2001
Convocation of World Leaders – 2001:
by William Selig
The new year began with a spectacular gathering centered on Heavenly Father and our True Parents. "Dialogue and Harmony Among Civilizations: The Family, Universal Values, and World Peace," was the theme for the Convocation of World Leaders as part of the 7th World Culture and Sports Festival held at the New York Hilton and the United Nations Headquarters, Jan. 26-30, 2001.
Sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), and the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO), more than 800 participants from 143 nations attended the international event, including 40 current and former heads of state, heads of government, and prime ministers.
At the opening banquet in the Hilton Grand Ballroom Jan. 26, the emcee was Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, secretary general, WCSF 2001. Deborah Moldow, co-chair, Values Caucus at the United Nations delivered the invocation. Opening remarks were given by Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, WCSF 2001 chairman, former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, and Dr. Wally N’Dow, Secretary General of WANGO.
Vice President Quayle called on the world leaders to "rededicate ourselves to our families, to the values that make our families strong, to involving ourselves in the community so we can achieve world peace." He said, "Let us refer to this UN meeting as the chapel of world peace."
United Nations Headquarters
On Jan. 27, the venue changed to the United Nations headquarters. The dignified surroundings created a fitting stage for the august gathering of international delegates. The conference co-sponsors welcomed the participants, including: Amb. Nejad Hosseinian, Mission of Iran; Amb. Hussein Hassouna, League of Arab States; Amb. Rashid Alimov, Mission of Tajikistan; Amb. Mokhtar Lamani, Organization of the Islamic Conference to the UN; and Amb. Makarim Wibisono, Mission of Indonesia. The session moderator was Tajeldin Hamad, organizing co-chair of the Convocation of World Leaders.
After a break, the morning session continued with remarks by Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman, WCSF; Nobel peace prize laureate and leader of the Solidarity Movement, H.E. Lech Walesa, former president of Poland; H.E. Azali Assoumani, current president of Comoros; Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, co-founder of WCSF; and Mr. Ridha Bouabid, Office of the International Organization of la Francophonie to the UN.
President Walesa, a father of eight children, spoke passionately about the importance of family, human rights, democracy, and reminded the participants to be ever vigilant against totalitarianism and the protection of our civil freedoms. A great bonus for the session was the presence of the current president of Comoros who warmly embraced everyone. As a sitting head of state, there was added security in the building, but it was Rev. Moon, founder of IIFWP, who really set the tone for the entire event with his landmark message.
"We are meeting in the United Nations," said Rev. Moon, "which was established as a temple of peace. We must all do everything we can to support the United Nations, so that it can be a true instrument of peace that fulfills its founding spirit. Humanity is at a time when we must give priority to the common good that transcends nations. Not only government institutions but also non-governmental organizations of each country must participate in the effort for true love and true families. Otherwise, we cannot bring about world peace. I would like to ask you to take active part in the true love movement of seeking to live for others and the true family movement so that we may build a new world with a culture of heart."
After a break, the next session was chaired by Rt. Hon. Edward Schreyer, former governor general of Canada, and continued the discussion on, "The Family, Universal Values and the UN." Panelists included: H.E. Luis A. Lacalle, former president of Uruguay; H.E. Jacob Nena, former president of Micronesia; and the Rt. Hon. Lloyd Sandiford, former prime minister of Barbados.
World Peace Blessing
After lunch, the "world peace blessing" began precisely at 2:30 p.m. and featured 210 couples petitioning the world leaders to affirm the profound significance of families as a universal value in their respective nations. Congratulatory remarks were given by current Comoros President Assoumani Azali; former Guyanese prime minister Hamilton Green; and former Micronesian president Jacob Nena. Rev. and Mrs. Moon wore beautiful robes patterned after the royal garb in ancient traditional Korean history.
The Hon. Hamilton Green, current mayor of Georgetown, Guyana said, "We gather here for the noblest of causes, to pray and plead at this highest international forum and building for global decision makers to guide us to the boundaries of light and a better world in the 21st century for the delightful, charming, intelligent, and courageous young people we see assembled in this place."
Former President Nena said, "as the leaders of the future of your nations, we congratulate you on your commitment to renew your vows to your spouses. One of the responsibilities as young couples and leaders of the future is to lay the foundation of your children in your family. Your qualities of leadership and your commitment to your partner will be blessed by the good Lord."
Pastor T.L. Barrett, Jr., Life Center Church of God in Christ in Chicago asked the spiritual leaders attending to stretch forth their hands and bless the couples. "We thank you, dear Creator," he said, "supplier and sustainer of the universe for allowing us to come together from many different countries and cultures to engage in sincere, creative dialogue on our one point common agenda, and that one point agenda is world peace...we ask your blessing upon these couples who lives will be eternally blessed."
Others leaders in attendance included: Rabbi Izhak Bar-Dea, chief rabbi, Ramat-Gan, Israel; H.H. Devendra Kirthi Bhattarakji, president, Jain Digamber Jain Muth, Humbuja, Karnataka, India; Khamba Lama Dambajav, Khamba Lama, Tashi Choe Ling Monastery, member of council of religious affairs under president of Mongolia; Rabbi Erno Lazarovits, director of foreign relations, Central Board of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Hungary; His Eminence Sheikh Al-Amin Osman, Mufti, State of Eritrea; Amb. J. Reuben Silverbird, ambassador, Indian Village of Europe, Austria; Singh Sahib Bhai Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sagib, India; and Dr. Billy McCormack, pastor, University Worship Center, founding board member of the Christian Coalition.
The Blessing was particularly exciting. All of the couples were dressed in their colorful national and ethnic dress. The assembly room was totally filled so the conference participants had to watch the event via closed circuit TV in another room. At the conclusion, the couples and conference participants received a chocolate bar with the words True Love inscribed on it. Once the newly blessed couples left, then the participants returned to the assembly room and the conference resumed.
There were numerous panel sessions sponsored by various organizations, including, the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace, the Summit Council for World Peace and the Federation for World Peace, the Professors World Peace Academy, the Waterland Research Institute, the World University Federation, the Women’s Federation for World Peace, the Youth Federation for World Peace, the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, the Religious Youth Service, the International Relief Friendship Foundation, the Unification Thought Institute, the Federation of Island Nations for World Peace, the Federation of Peninsular Nations for World Peace, the Federation of Continental Nations for World Peace, as well as a program hosted by the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO), and Center for the Global South.
There was general agreement among the participants that the event contributed greatly to the UN’s theme of dialogue among civilizations. Current President Assoumani Azali of Comoros summarized the essence of the gathering, "Each of us -- men, women and all who are responsible for families -- we have a responsibility to assume. It is in the family where we will find the best remedy to heal the world. We have to educate our children. We have to instill in them the values of dialogue and mutual respect. Let us teach our children to help each other and to love one another. And let us build the spirit in this way for future generations."
At the evening banquet, Sunday night, WCSF founder, Rev. Moon said, "I would like to give you world leaders a precious gift in words this evening. I speak from the truth found through immense suffering on a journey begun in my youth. This journey has brought me to the boundless world of Heaven. Tonight I will speak about the principles of the spirit world that we enter after death, a world no one can ignore. I would also to like to introduce some aspects of life in the Kingdom of Heaven, the realm everyone desperately wants to enter…
"I urge you to study about the spirit world with greater eagerness and to receive the God-centered blessing so that you can build a true family. I also encourage you to prepare for your eternal life through living unselfishly. The time has come that people who work hard willful the hand of Heavenly fortune, with which the limited power of human beings cannot cooperate. Those who live the life of a filial child, a patriot, a saint and a divine son or daughter before the living God, with a humble and self-effacing attitude, are the most fortunate. At the advent of the era of God’s Kingship, I pray that you will promote God’s Kingship. May we work in partnership to build the world of heart and culture transcending nations."
The conference officially concluded Monday morning. During lunch, True Father met with about 100 high-level guests including the heads of state for about 90 minutes. Father asked if anyone had a question. One woman asked what he specifically wanted each participant to leave with. It was a perfect question. Father said he hoped the guests would leave with a better understanding in three areas: 1) the existence of God, 2) the reality of spirit world, and 3) how the spirit world exists.
Meanwhile, the rest of the guests heard President Lech Walesa speak passionately about the end of communism and his hopes for the new millennium. He called himself a "revolutionary in my life," and said the political activities in Poland had a direct influence on the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union.
On Monday, January 30, Rev. and Mrs. Moon celebrated their 81st and 58th birthdays, respectively. The conference participants were treated to entertainment at the Manhattan Center featuring performances by the New York City Symphony, Japanese Drum Dances, Mr. and Miss University International Beauty Pageant Contestants, a martial arts presentation, the Little Angels of Korea, and a presentation from the United Federation of Churches. The grand finale featured songs by the grown sons of Rev. and Mrs. Moon -- Hyo Jin Nim, Hyun Jin Nim, Kook Jin Nim, and Hyung Jin Nim. The participants left the next day for all corners of the world filled with love and a heavenly mandate.
William Selig is the Deputy Director of the Federation for World Peace.
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