Unification News for March 2002

Assembly 2002 and the World Culture and Sports Festival

by Nadine Andre and Susana Palencia

Assembly 2002, "Establishing a Culture of Peace: Worldviews, Institutions, Leadership and Practices," took place in Seoul, Korea between February 14-18, 2002. Sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) under the Chairmanship of Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Assembly 2002 was a cornerstone of this year's World Culture and Sports Festival (WCSF) 2002.

The Assembly was co-chaired by H.E. Rodrigo Carazo, former president of Costa Rica and H.E. Stanislav Shushkevich, former president of Belarus. It was the 4th in a series of international Assemblies that seek to 'search for the solutions to critical global problems.' The preceding Assembly 2001, convened in New York soon after the tragedy of September 11th bringing together Christian, Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an effort to create dialogue and understanding.

This year's Assembly 2002 was attended by 500 participants representing 100 nations and was attended by sitting President of the Republic of Palau, Mr. Tommy Remengesau Jr. and the First Lady Mrs. Debbie Remengesau. Also attending were 17 former presidents representing all continents and international leaders representing politics, religion, diplomacy, economics, academia and the NGO community. The overall goal of this Assembly was to substantially identify and create the framework for solutions to the world's most pressing problems and to contribute to the establishment of a Culture of Peace, a theme proclaimed by the United Nations.

World Culture and Sports Festival 2002 (WCSF) was the 8th WCSF since it was envisaged in September 1988, during the Seoul Olympics by the founder Rev. Moon. While the Winter Olympics are presently held in Salt Lake City, many have referred to the WCSF as the "Olympics of World Culture." In addition to Assembly 2002, WCSF includes sporting events, a youth convention and an international marriage blessing of 4,000 international couples.

Opening Banquet

The Opening Banquet was chaired by IIFWP Secretary General and Organizing Chairman, Dr. Thomas Walsh, who spoke to the participants who had come to Korea from all over the world. The Opening Invocation was given by Mr. Khamba Lama Dambajav, Vice President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists from Mongolia, who offered a Buddhist chant. A highlight of this year's Assembly was the diversity of representation from the world's religions.

Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of IIFWP and the WCSF, described the features of a culture of peace in his opening address, "It should be a culture characterized by true love. True love is not only a virtue to be applied to personal relationships. It can and should characterize the nature of institutional life, from the workplace to the state house to the marketplace."

Co-Chair H.E. Carazo, former President of Costa Rica said, "The only way for peace is through disarmament. Costa Rica abolished its army in 1948. Having no weapons is the only way to have no confrontations!" "Whether we like it or not," said H.E. Shushkevich, co-chair and former President of Belarus," the process of globalization has begun." The first lady of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Mrs. Mary Note said, "From a small country like the Marshall Islands to the giant superpowers, the world is in need of leadership in this era of peace." The international audience was ready to roll up its sleeves and begin to get to work.

Founder's Address

The second day of the Assembly, February 15th, was of special importance; the Founder's Address would be given. The opening plenary, chaired by Dr. Neil Salonen, President of the University of Bridgeport, represented diverse and innovative thought. H.E. Abdurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, said that this was a challenging time for Islam and called for radical changes within Islam itself.

Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, always consistent in his message outlined the guiding principles of IIFWP. Other speakers included Dr. Nicholas Kittrie, Chair of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace and Sir James Mancham, Founding President of the Republic of Seychelles, who presented a copy of their new and comprehensive book The Future of Peace in the Twenty-First Century.

What came as a surprise and delight to the audience was the introduction of the Founder by his wife of over 40 years, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. She shared a personal perspective of her husband. She said, "His love for our family and his devotion to teaching them to become as absolute in their dedication to God and as universal in their love for humanity as he has been has brought amazing results. With our 14 children and well over 20 grandchildren, although we never took an ordinary family vacation, I believe our family has experienced the closest bond of any family in the world - because we are bound together in the love of God."

The Founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon's address was rousing and strong. It was heavily attended by the international and local media. For two days in Korea the WCSF, Assembly 2002 and the international blessing made front page news. The address provided the foundation for the discussions, inspirations and proposals that comprised the following committee sessions.

Dr. Moon called for all participants and the Ambassadors for Peace to transcend nationality, race and religion and lead the way in building a world of peace. The speech spoke deeply about the internal characteristics necessary for building a culture of peace. Eight hundred people attended the Founder's address.

The following plenary, "What is Required to Establish a Culture of Peace: The Role of Worldviews, Institutions, Leadership and Practices, moderated by Mrs. Karen Smith, IIFWP Director, Office of UN Relations, was formatted in true UN style. There was a plentiful array of speakers representing a diversity of thought and enlightened opinion, each speaking for seven minutes. Many participants appreciated the range and scope of the speakers.

Committee Sessions

What made its mark upon Assembly 2002 as unique and distinct, were the working committee sessions that met three times during the course of the Assembly. It was the hope of the conference organizers that these meeting would serve as a foundation for building future relationships and beginning the process for formulating future plans of action.

According to the moderators, the first session was a way of breaking the ice. One participant remarked that he had never been to the UN but at his session he now felt like he had." The United Nations session consisted of participants who had 40 years of experience at the UN and relative newcomers to the UN. 'Can the Media Contribute to a Culture of Peace?' dealt with issues like realities of journalistic objectivity and how the media influences the course of events.

Assembly 2002 also featured IIFWP regional chapter meetings, addressing concerns of each of the following areas; Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America, Oceania, and Eurasia. Mr. Altaf Nathani, public relations director of the World Ahlul Bayt of the Islamic League, had attended both the religion and Middle East sessions saying that both were marked by tolerance and good will.

Final Day

Assembly 2002 concluded its final day of sessions on Saturday, February 16th. Participants worked hard till the final sessions. The morning began with an Interfaith Service led by Mr. John Gehring of the Religious Youth Service. The plenary was chaired by Ms. Tomiko Duggan of the World Media Association and included several prominent figures including Hon. Curt Weldon, US Congressman from Pennsylvania and member of the Armed Services Committee. Congressman Weldon expressed his commitment to helping the members of Congress in their understanding of international affairs and is making a bridge between foreign ambassadors to the US and the UN and members of Congress.

The committees met two more times and the closing plenary consisted of their final reports.

International Wedding Blessing

Some of the participants were able to witness the International Marriage Blessing of 4,000 couples officiated by Rev. Moon and the world's religious leaders. It was also special and unique opportunity for some of the participants to rededicate their vows with their spouses as a commitment to world peace and to living for the sake of others.

Day of Celebration

Upon the conclusion of the sessions and deliberations of Assembly 2002, the participants were treated to a very special day. Sunday, February 17th, marked the tribute and birthday anniversary of WCSF/IIFWP Founder and his wife, (both share the same birthdays).

The event was held at the Fencing Stadium in Seoul where 10,000 people were in attendance. The guests were treated to a Korean style birthday on a grand scale where presents and congratulations were offered to Rev. Moon and his wife for their commitment to world peace. President Tommy Remengesau Jr. of the Republic of Palau, gave an address recognizing Rev. Moon's accomplishments and acknowledged how the island of Palau was working to adopt the ethics and principles of the IIFWP in order to be a model of peace for the rest of the world.

A Night of Culture

The participants were treated to an evening of culture and art at the Little Angels School and Performing Arts Center in Seoul. A beautiful banquet dinner was served which included a performance by the Universal Ballet Company who performed the second act of Swan Lake. There was also a performance by the Little Angels Performing Arts Troupe. The young people astonished the crowd as they danced, sang and played the Korean drum reaching the hearts of all.

Assembly 2002 and the WCSF 2002 were landmark events that attest to the Founders' vision of peace and to the fact that people throughout every nation in every endeavor long for peace and are committed to working for it by living for the sake of others.

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