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Universal Peace Federation (UPF)

UPF Ireland Peace Road Walk & Forum 2021
"Ending Conflict in Ireland - Lessons for the World?"

Derry City 26.9.21, part of the International Peace Road Project


The Strait Guys - teaser from Rick Minnich on Vimeo.

Cyber Faith Round Table 5 Dec 2020


Both the rules-based world order established after WWII and the EU system of close intergovernmental cooperation and integration are under such severe strain as to cast doubt on their future viability. In both cases increasing preoccupation with national self-interest, as against willingness to cooperate together for the common good, would appear to be the key destabilizing factor. What are the key issues threatening to tear the EU apart or at least to greatly reduce its effectiveness and how can they be resolved, if at all? Even more importantly, can the global, rules-based system survive and how can the E.U. best adapt itself so as not only to ensure its own survival but also to bolster the global rules-based system in its fight for survival? Few people can be better qualified to provide answers to these vital questions than our 3 panelists. Each has played a key role in the development of the E.U.'s policies in the last 20 years.
Panelists:
Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy (1996 - 1998 and 2006-2008), President of the European Commission (1999-2004).
Jose Manuel Barroso, Prime Minister of Portugal (2002-2004), President of the European Commission (2004-2014).
Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister of Belgium (2008-2009), President of the European Council (2009 - 2014), Chairman of the Board of the College of Europe (since 2019).

Moderator:
Rita Payne, Former Asia Editor, BBC World News (TV), President emeritus, Commonwealth Journalists Association


UPF Ireland Peace Road Forum 2019 - "Global Family - Local Harmony"

"Is there a Role for Faith in Modern Ireland"

Report by Colm Ó Cionnaith, Sec-Gen UPF Ireland

DOWNPATRICK, Co. Down, “The Home of Saint Patrick” - a Briton who became Ireland’s most revered and patron saint, was the venue for the the 4th annual UPF Ireland Peace Road Walk and 2nd annual Forum on Sunday, 22nd September.

The morning’s events in the picturesque Ulster town commenced as interfaith ‘pilgrims’ arrived from the four provinces of Ireland, braving their way through stormy conditions and made their way up the short hilly walk of Slieve Patrick, just outside Downpatrick. The Heaven’s smiled as dark rain clouds receded to a beautiful soft mist and on reaching the summit, participants were treated to a breath-taking view of the region, with Strangford loch visible through the encroaching mist, as well as views of the Isle of Man and Carlingford in Co. Louth, in the Republic (location of previous Peace Road Forums).

Keener eyes might have even been able to spot the coastline of Scotland if they had focused a little harder on the majestic horizon! It is easy to see how a future bridge or tunnel could connect to Scotland if the will and the finances could be found to extend Rev. Moon’s vision of the World Highway ‘Peace Road’ to our island and no doubt bring great prosperity and trade to the region and to our celtic cousins, Scotland.

This might also help us to feel more united if a post-Brexit world becomes a reality. Time will tell whether or not this oft-mooted possibility becomes reality.



After milling around the world’s tallest statue of St Patrick for a while, participants then made their way to the altar area a little bit further down the hill and assembled for readings from Peace Ambassadors Mrs. Maryam Timile and Mrs. Zeinab Mustafa, who read Biblical, Qu’ranic and other inspirational passages from the World Scripture book on the holy site.
Everyone joined with FFWPU National Pastor Ely Loew as he offered a prayer of unity and gratitude to our Heavely Parent for sending Saint Patrick to our shores (in 432 AD), reflecting on his origins as a slave and how he was effectively one of the earliest recorded campaigners in history for the rights of those unfortunates subject to slavery and trafficking - a point often missed by many when considering St. Patrick’s legacy.
The inspiration for the Peace Road Walk in Ireland being held on this particular weekend is to mark the UN Day of Peace, which fell on the previous day and the 21st anniversary of the Belfast, Good Friday agreement which has secured peace for our Island and helped us to live with dual identities and citizenship after 30 years of civil war.
Concluding the peace walk, the more than 30 participants made their way down the hill and headed for the St. Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick town centre for the second part of the day, the Peace Road Forum, where a number of presentations were given by current and new Peace Ambassadors.


2019’s Peace Road Walk and Forum had he theme: “Global Family, Local Harmony” and the topic the presentations addressed was: “Is there a role for Faith in modern society?” Colm Ó Cionnaith emceed the afternoon events and first up was proud Irish-American, Kate Tsubata, who delighted the audience with the first Ireland and UK private screening of her new motion picture “Dancing Joy” which features Beethoven’s famous 9th symphony as the choreography for traditional dance troupes from all over the world, from Japan and Fiji to Bulgaria, Belfast, Dublin, Honduras and Africa to name but a few of the locations. Before the screening Kate gave some insights into her work and what motivated and inspired her to make the movie: how art for her was the way she preferred to express her faith, rather than simply lecturing. She emphasised that creativity was universal and all cultures and nations can appreciate art, music and dance as an expression of cultural and religious unity, given that we all share the almost all the same dna and ultimately the same Creator.

Next up was Dr. James Uhomoibhi from Ulster University who enchanted us with his story, how he came to Northern Ireland over 30 years previous, having had to study for his qualifications in Italian and how he almost had to learn Serbo-Croat as well in order to progress in his studies!
Dr. Uhomoibhi contrasted his fortunes in the pursuit of educational excellence and the opportunities he received with those of his compatriots in the developing world. He told the forum that education was the best way of out poverty and the opportunities it can bring can benefit the recipients on all metrics, from sustained income to good health and life expectancy. He conveyed very well the heart of someone who has given so much to his colleagues, family and friends and who continues to spread light to his students and colleagues and all he comes into contact with. UPF Ireland are delighted to have him join the ranks of our Peace Ambassadors along with Marisa Goldstone-Leavold from Cavan and also his Ulster University colleague, Dr Marisol Giardina de Navarro who was next up.

Dr. Giardina de Navarro movingly told the audience how she was determined through her work with “Healing Venezuela” to highlight the decline of this once great nation, which has been ravished by the entrenchment of an ideology and slavish adherence to marxist doctrine which has left the country destitute, with its citizens forced to search garbage bins in many cases in order to find food. Later FFWPU Ireland National Pastor Ely Loew called on the audience and participants to support the various charities showcased at the forum, ‘Healing Veneuzuela’, ‘Religious Youth Service’ and ‘E-ducare’.
Rev. Marshall de Souza reminded the forum that we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the historic RYS service project, held down the road in what was then the Columcille Centre on the Antrim Road in Belfast. Historic, not least because participants there were able to visit the new Northern Ireland Assembly as part of the project along with the other conferences which took place in 1999, under the auspices of UPF’s forerunners IIFWP and the WFWP.


Government recognition could be seen in video footage of the event which showed former President of Ireland, Uachtaráin Mrs. Mary McAleese visiting the Peace Garden project shortly after it was completed, where she acknowledged the hard work of Marshall, Columbanus Centre Director Rev. Glenn Barclay and former UPF Ireland Secretary General Mr. Halvard Iversen and RYS participants from all over the world, representing multiple faith traditions.
Rev. de Souza talked about the work of the RYS in Britain and throughout the world and how service learning is so beneficial to both the participants and the areas chosen alike, enabling education and healing to take place. Many testimonies of transformational internal change have been recorded due to his work with various interfaith endeavours such as RYS and the anti-AIDs project, WAIT, which provides abstinence-based education through the medium of modern hip-hop dancing.
Marshall thanked earlier presenter Mrs. Kate Tsubata, who set up the latter organisation in the US many years ago and which is still active in parts of the world, such as the Phillipines, which are still struggling to deal with the crisis of HIV/AIDs and whose citizens do not have access to same level of healthcare that citizens of western countries enjoy to combat this scourge.

Reflections on RYS 1999
Religious Youth Service BELFAST

The final presentation to the forum continued with the education theme where Bruno Miresse (another former UPF Ireland Secretary-General) and his colleague, Pierluigi Cosca gave the forum some insights into the incredible work the charity Mr. Cosca founded - ‘E-ducare’ is doing in funding the schooling and education of young people in the developing countries such as Vietnam and Tanzania as well as with the homeless in Dublin.
It was clear for all to see the satisfaction that E-ducare members derive in living for the sake of others and supporting the underprivileged and giving hope and dreams to so many through fund-raising and paying for schools and teachers. “Give a man a fish….” is the motto of E-ducare and as the current UPF Sec-Gen, I for one am very inspired by how our Peace Ambassadors and former Sec-Gen’s continue the work of inspiring and living for the sake of others in their day to day lives.

My call to action for our global network of peace-builders was echoed on staged by Pastor Loew and Northern Europe Regional Director of FFWPU, Rev. Dr. David Hanna, who gave both gave closing remarks, before the presentation of Peace Ambassador awards to Dr. Marisol Giardina de Navarro, Mrs. Goldstone-Leavold and Dr. Uhomoibhi, who graciously received their commissions and acknowledgements.
In presenting the awards, I emphasised that this award was in recognition of lives lived in service to others, but that it is also a call to continue to live the upf values of ‘living for the sake of others’ by working together as peace ambassadors.
Pastor Loew told the forum about his experiences in working on an RYS service learning project in the past and explained a little about the vision, our UPF founder Rev. Moon has for an interfaith assembly in the UN and how politics should be aided by faith, not seek to exclude, especially given the religious dimension to many of the world’s conflicts, not least in Northern Ireland’s past. Dr. Hanna closed this year’s forum by explaining more about the ‘Peace Road’ movement around the world, the different forms it takes and the inspirations of different participants and it’s genesis in the ‘World Highway Project’ first mooted by Rev. Moon, which seeks to connect the world and create trade links even between China, USA and Russia through the Beiring Straits.
My great hope is that the legacy of Peace Road Forum 2019 is that participants left feeling refreshed and inspired by this initiative and I look forward to suggestions from Peace Ambassadors and regional coordinators such as Mr Tinko Tinev, Mr John Kennedy and Dr. Omar Escalona as to how we can mark other significant UN days in 2020, such as Africa Day and Day of the Family with events and initiatives which can address at least some of our aims and some of the many innovative projects of UPF, such as the International Association for Peace & Development (IAPD), ‘parliamentarians for peace’ (IAPP) and the international conference for the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS). A great big thank you to all who contributed to the success of the days events, many travelling long distances, you know who you are! Beannacht Dé oraibh go léir (May God Bless you all!). PHOTOS courtesy of Róisín McManus.

2018 PEACE ROAD WALK & FORUM: BREXIT CHALLENGE TO PEACE PROCESS

Report by Colm Ó Cionnaith, Sec-Gen UPF Ireland

CARLINGFORD, Co. Louth, 9 Sept 2018 - The border region of Ireland, which could in a short period of time become a new western frontier between the EU and the United Kingdom played host to an important new initiative from UPF Ireland: the Peace Road Forum.

Peace Road Events have been held through the world, from island to island cycles in Japan to the two previous events in Ireland, the addition of the inaugural 'Forum' this year was a challenge set by the local UPF chapter in order to boost it's profile and give a 'kick-start' for future development and expansion.

The day's events started with the 3rd annual morning event: a walk around the famous 'Battle of the Boyne' battlefield. Heaven smiled on the 'peace walkers' as the sun shone down on us at the beautiful Oldbridge Estate, Co. Meath, in the backdrop the restored stately home which hosts the historical centre, one of the many fruits of the successful Peace Process, a symbol of the new Ireland, where sectarian and political conflict is thankfully a thing of the past and visitors are reminded of some of the origins of much of the 'troubles.'

UPF Ireland Peace Road Forum discusses Brexit challenge to Peace Process

Report by Colm Ó Cionnaith, Sec-Gen UPF Ireland

CARLINGFORD, Co. Louth, 9 Sept 2018 - The border region of Ireland, which could in a short period of time become a new western frontier between the EU and the United Kingdom played host to an important new initiative from UPF Ireland: the Peace Road Forum.

Peace Road Events have been held through the world, from island to island cycles in Japan to the two previous events in Ireland, the addition of the inaugural 'Forum' this year was a challenge set by the local UPF chapter in order to boost it's profile and give a 'kick-start' for future development and expansion.

The day's events started with the 3rd annual morning event: a walk around the famous 'Battle of the Boyne' battlefield. Heaven smiled on the 'peace walkers' as the sun shone down on us at the beautiful Oldbridge Estate, Co. Meath, in the backdrop the restored stately home which hosts the historical centre, one of the many fruits of the successful Peace Process, a symbol of the new Ireland, where sectarian and political conflict is thankfully a thing of the past and visitors are reminded of some of the origins of much of the 'troubles.'

Before the walk some visited the tea-rooms and walled gardens, then participants were treated to a fascinating guided tour through the interperative centre by a staff member, an Office of Public Works Historian: after her illuminating explaination of the many different angles to the battle (such as conflict for supremacy of the British throne and the struggle between 'Sun-King' Louis IV and the Pope for religious domination in Europe to name just a few), she fielded questions and gave us a new perspective on not only the day's events, but on the politial and religious context of the 17th century as well as the repercussions of the battle, which we are still dealing with today. I for one was surprised to learn that William of Orange had the support of the Pope on the day of the battle!

The second part of the day's events, the Peace Road Forum itself, kicked off after lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford, Co. Louth, near the 'border' with Northern Ireland. Two sessions of 3 speakers each gave their perspectives on Brexit and what their opinions on what effect it was likely to have on them and on Britain, Ireland and Europe. Emcee Colm Ó Cionnaith, Secretary-General of UPF Ireland introduced participants to the speakers and first on the agenda in the opening session was:

Mark Brann, a solicitor for almost 40 years and former UPF Europe Vice-President. Mr. Brann was of the opinion that Britain was acting contrary to 'God's Will' in that she was acting in her short-term, selfish interest and that it saddened him that she was departing from her proud history of being an outward-looking and important world player. He feared her significance would diminish as she withdrew in the form of Brexit, to concern herself with more domestic affairs.

Mr. Brann emphasised that we should all see ourselves as 'One Family under God', as our UPF founders Rev. & Mrs. Moon always emphasised, and that in his opinion, Brexit was against this spirit of co-operating with the family of near-neighbours in Europe, where if nothing else, the EU had at least achieved its founding goal of avoiding another world war since its inception in 1957.

While the EU still has many flaws, the ideal of european unity and co-operation was something still worth striving for and that both Europe and Britain would be the poorer culturally and poltically, if not economically by the British dis-engagement from the EU. Mr. Brann emphasised that not all of his co-religionists shared this view towards Brexit and that many were enthusiastic 'Brexiteers'.

I was left feeling grateful to Mark for going a long way towards helping me, as an Irish Unificationist, understand a little deeper his British Unificationist perspective on this thorny subject and afterwards I feel a lot less perplexed at the decision of the British people to 'Brexit', having heard his opinion.

However, I can't help thinking that the consideration of Ireland and the Irish border didn't feature much in the 'Brexit' debate or vote, and now, worse still in the final negotiations towards a Brexit 'deal', it seems that many Brexiteers may be happy to use the Irish Border as some sort of a bargaining chip, oblivious to, or even reckless, as to the potential destabilising affect such cynical behaviour could have on our nascent peace process.

While Mark's excellent introduction set the tone for the afternoon's Peace Road Forum, he was followed by the ever-inspiring Linda Ervine, Irish language officer of the Methodist Mission in Belfast, who reminded us of the support given by the EU throughout the Peace Process in Northern Ireland and bemoaned the undertones of racism that were present in the run-up the Brexit vote.

Ms. Ervine outlined the contribution of the immigrant community to Northern Ireland and the wealth of diversity they have brought and how their contribution to the health services, the economy and society in general needed to be valued and appreciated. Linda told us about her work with the Skainos centre and how their work involves not only helping the most needy with their basic training and educational needs but also in reaching across cultural boundaries and facilitating greater understanding of our shared history and culture in these islands.

Linda told the forum that while she is not from the 'border' area, she has lived all her life in Northern Ireland and that peoples' lives in Belfast have been greatly enriched by the peace of the last 25 years and painted a picture of a new Northern Ireland emerging from the dark shadows of the past. Linda was concerned that this was under threat from Brexit and that it certainly was not going to be any help. Although Brexit was not the will of the people of Northern Ireland they were bound by the UK wide vote nevertheless.

Pierrot Ngadi, who has been living and working in Ireland as a mental health professional for nearly two decades told us about his passion for the work of Roger Casement, the Irish patriot and former British establishment figure hanged for treason, who exposed the abuses of King Leopold in Congo. Mr. Ngadi is very eager that the UPF be used as a force for ensuring justice in the developing world and was keen to emphasise that while he was not an expert on Brexit, he felt that Casement, his hero, would have been sceptical of the motives of those who were motivated by Empire, exclusion and separatism.

Mr. Ngadi told the forum that Congo is a country of immense wealth, that the substance 'colton', present in all our laptops and cellphones is found in abundance there. Consequently colton, along with the many other resources present there, should mean that Congo, ideally could be a very wealthly country, capable of creating a high standard of living for it's people if it was governed well.

The UPF in its 'good governance' role should seek to use its influence to assist the developing world, and Mr. Ngadi told the forum he is determined to continue in the spirit of Casement to ensure justice for all in the developed and developing world, but that to achieve that, freedom was a pre-requisite.

Following a short break, the next session of the Peace Road Forum was re-started by Diadeen Ahmed who lives in Galway, but is from Sudan originally. Diadeen has expertise in the Arab affairs and in the struggle for democracy and freedom in his home country. Mr. Ahmed is reaching out to the immigrant community in Galway and keen to ensure that his projects facilitate cultural understanding between Islam and the West and that the immigrant experience in Ireland should be one where they feel part of the host nation and can contribute to the security and peace of the nation.

He hoped that UPF can be a force for stabilisation in conflict zones such as his home country of Sudan and wished that he could be re-united with his family soon. He invited participants to join him in a future UPF Ireland project in Galway, with the working theme of 'Art for Peace' and encouraged the forum to support this initiave, which is another key UPF goal, that of promoting intercultural and inter-faith co-operation and understanding.

Humphrey Hawksley, renowned journalist, author and commentator told the forum that in his opinion, the Irish border issue should not be an insurmountable one and that in many parts of the world solutions were in place which allowed people to co-exist peacefully and indeed, prosper despite them. He was inspired by the Peace Road ideal and how, if it would ever be feasible, connecting North America and Russia through the Bering strait would be a step in the right direction, at least in theory and would be a massive achievement for humanity.

The cost of such an endeavour of course being very prohibitive at the moment, althought there may be some value in connecting the two 'diamede' islands on either side of the international dateline with a bridge, even for its symbolic significance. Mr. Hawksley told the forum that in our new technological age of instant communication, a more important issue than fearing physical borders perhaps was that data roaming restrictions or cost barriers to the social and economic developments facilitated by information technology were not re-introduced by phenoma such as Brexit.

Keith Best, former MP and Barrister concluded the speakers contribution to the Forum by moving hearts in his explaination of the work he has been doing for many years as a Welsh language activist and with his connections to Ireland and the tragedies he witnessed in the past relating to the conflict in the North. Mr. Best served for many years on the Northern Ireland committee in government and told the forum, that his experience of the history of conflict on our Island makes him feel that Brexit is a mistake and that not only is it not helpful to Ireland, but that it wouldn't be advantageous to Britain either. Mr. Best told participants that he was of the view that devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had made the UK more united and that Brexit could potentially undermine that.

As a key leader and long time member of the World Federalist Movement, Mr. Best said he was a passionate about 'subsidiarity' - the theory where power should flow from the bottom up and that decision making should happen at the lowest democratic level possible.

The Question & Answers session followed where speakers were asked to elaborate on some of the issues brought up by the forum theme and in their addresses. All participants were asked to submit questions to the panel. One question asked whether immigation and racism was the main issue which led to the vote on Brexit. Panelists were each in turn asked to provide their insight. The session was Moderated by Robin Marsh, UPF UK Sec-Gen, who himself fielded a question about the funding structure of UPF. Another question was addressed by Keith Best who said he didn't see any parallels between the Henry VIII's Reformation and Brexit! Perhaps it was understandable that the questioner might see some parallels, given the intense emotional experience of the morning's Peace Road Walk at the Battle of the Boyne Visitor centre!

Pastor Ely Loew, Chairman of UPF Ireland presented UPF Peace Ambassasor certificates to Maryam Temile, Nigerian Lawyer and Mediator, a tireless servant of her Church and community in Cavan, where she sits on school boards and parents committees and is always the first name on the list when it comes to organinsing inter-cultural events in the region; Zeinab El Moustafa, Sudanese citizen, Certified member of Arab International Federation for Arbitration, experienced in working for UN conflict resolution projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, also from Cavan; and our three gracious speakers: Ms. Linda Ervine, Mr. Pierrot Ngadi and Mr. Diadeen Ahmed.

Following some entertainment by singer Róisín McManus, the final event of the day, painstakingly organised by Mr. John Kennedy, was hurridly convened as cyclists assembled at the bike hire shop in Carlingford to complete the 'triathalon' of the day's events with a cycle to the border. Today's border is almost non-existant and as you cross from South to North you will be lucky to see any sign that there is political disunity in Ireland. This is in large part due to the membership of the European Union by both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Whatever the outcome of Brexit, we in Ireland trust that we will not see the erection of a 'hard border' and that citizens, North and South whether they consider themselvers Irish or British or Northern Irish can move and communicate freely along these new roads of Peace. Borders may be necessary to define territory and regulate immigration and tariffs, but they can also serve as a reminder of disunity and conflict, something we hope we never have to witness again on this island. PHOTOS & VIDEOS courtesy of Róisín McManus & Melanie Kennedy


Radicalisation and Violent Extremism in Europe: Focus on Prevention

Dec 5th, 2017 – EU PARLIAMENT, Bruxelles

by Colm Ó Cionnaith, UPF Ireland:
This very stimulating, thought-provoking and in the current context of 21st century Europe, urgent topic, was the matter at hand for discussion by UPF Europe’s latest initiative: the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace -IAPP.

The EU parliament chamber in Brussels was full of distinguished attendees and representatives of various NGOs and stakeholders on the invitiation of Flávio Zononato, the Italian M.E.P from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats who guided the programme and assisted in preparing the distinguished panel, made up of Jean-Marie Bockel, a high-ranking French National politician and social conservative; Afzal Ashraf, a British military academic with expertise in the Middle East and religious conflicts; Seyran Ates, a muslim female Immam from Berlin and Prof. Brigitte Maréchal, a Belgian Political Scientist, Islamologist and Sociologist. All raised interesting points and gave great analysis of the current tension that exists in Europe between culture and religion, some like Jean-Marie emphasising the importance of balancing the secular nature of the French Republic, which promises equality and freedom to all with the necessity of values and particularly the need for the state to recognise the positive aspects of religious practice in the education of children and the emphasis faith traditions give to the family as a bedrock for successful and happy individuals.

I was quite captivated by our female Imam from Berlin who has to overcome constant opposition and indeed requires protection from the state to allow her to continue her ministry in what she described as a ‘liberal mosque’ in Berlin, where all comers are welcome, regardless of their gender or political philosophy. She came across as a very open-hearted person who obviously loves her faith, but also cherishes the freedom which Europe gives her to practice and promote it the way that she feels called to. Following the presentations by the panel, there was a question and answer session, which was inevitably too short! However, those of us eager to pose our questions were comforted by the knowledge that the second part of the conference was to follow in the afternoon in the nearby Renaissance hotel.

My impressions from the afternoon session was that things were a lot more relaxed and we had more time to teethe out some of the issues raised earlier in the parliament. Contributions to the afternoon session were also provided by MEP for West Midlands’ Ms. McIntyre’s parliamentary assistant, who outlined a very successful project in her constituency which helped to create a better atmosphere for religious tolerance and respect and hoped that this work could continue to find funding after Brexit. French muslim leader Camel Bechikh gave his perspective of growing up in France as a proud citizen and adherent of his faith and painted at times a stark picture of the conflicts between those two systems.

Perhaps this for me was the biggest take-away for the day: how do we encourage religious adherents to participate in politics in Europe, where they feel the freedom and democracy not as a threat to faith but as a protection and a basis, not for conflict, but for social good.
The next day I was lucky enough to be invited to a similar meeting organised by Jan Figel and chaired by the Vice-President of the EU parliament Mairéad McGuinness as part of the EUs new responsibility for Freedom of Belief & Thought under the Lisbon Treaty . I congratulated the VP on the initiative on behalf of UPF and reminded her of our event held the previous day and the commonalities shared by our respective conferences and organisations.


INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK

Assembled Peace Ambassadors, dignitaries and UPF guests and representatives mark Interfaith Harmony week at the House of Lords

UPF Ireland represented at Interfaith Harmony Week event in House of Lords.
Universal Peace Federation UK hosted a very inspiring event titled, "Healing the Wounds of Conflict: How Can Religion Help?" in one the House of Lords Committee Rooms on Monday, February 22nd, 2016.

UPF House of Lords Testimony by former All-Ireland Primate

My position was as Anglican archbishop of Armagh, which means I was the Anglican primate for the whole of Ireland, North and South, and that period of 22 years before I retired coincided with what we call the troubles, the war in Ireland. Thousands of lives were lost and the 2 communities were at loggerheads. On one side, the Protestants wished for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK. The Roman Catholic (RC) community favoured the unification of Ireland. The two communities were often forced to take sides to follow one argument or the other. Extremism, which is the subject of this conference, took a particular face in the Northern Ireland conflict. It was encouraged by the men and women of violence and the communities they came from feared to oppose them.
While a minority was monitoring the attacks, the two communities were divided as a consequence. My role in the peace process was to be instrumental in trying to build confidence that didn’t exist between those 2 blocks or entities. The main lesson I have learned over the period of that peace process is that every conflict situation may cause suffering. The local identity of conflict is the first thing I want to emphasize, but it has to be read alongside the fact that there is human loss, misery and suffering and the first keyword I want to use is the word fear. One of the things that I felt at the beginning was that we had to find some way of overcoming ignorance of other people. People living within a few meters of each other didn’t know each other. They had a mental picture of what that neighbour stood for because they’d never met.
When a person meets another person and they know they are in the same place to talk and listen, there will eventually emerge common denominators; common concerns, fears and hopes. This is particularly true for ladies. The mothers, wives and young children of the people that were in conflict were the first to say: “there is a certain ignorance we want to overcome”. The second stage of the peace process came about when I started to talk to the men and women of violence and I was under threat for quite a period: my life, my family were threatened simply because I wanted to bring them to an understanding that greater progress could be made politically than by the barrel of a gun. It was hard; a lot of it had to be done in secret and will never be known; I’ll carry it to my grave. There are 3 things you should look at in a conflict situation. Firstly, you have to convince the people that whatever they are trying to gain by violence can be obtained more radically by diplomacy. Secondly, you must build up the fragile word “trust”. I had to show them that I was prepared to listen and talk to them and that they could trust talking to me. Thirdly, you have to take risks. We took big risks. I thought, “If I don’t do it, God will find somebody else to do it”. Today, the situation is not exactly level, but there is peace and, for that reason, I thank my God for allowing me to play a part in it. For this, you must have courage and faith that God is a God of peace, reconciliation; that is the keyword.

Author: The Rt. Rev. the Lord Robin Eames OM Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (1986-2006) Robin Eames is a distinguished religious leader who made repeated peace initiatives during Northern Ireland’s “troubles.” They all failed for 13 years amid terrible suffering and grieving, until his persistence was recognised by the men following a violent path who could see that the conflict was not going to fulfil their goals. They chose him as a trusted figure to open a dialogue. He became a passionate campaigner for the peace process, empowered by the experience of ministering to those in grief. Numerous deserved awards and accolades have followed, including the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II and a peerage in 1995.


Celebrating the Life of Reverend Moon

Pastor Loew shared with a capacity audience of FFWPU members and guests the mission and life of Rev. Moon and the organisations he inspired and founded in order to further interfaith co-operation and build "One Family under God". Projects such as the UPF, which was created to give an interfaith dimension to the UN, or the "Peace UN" were outlined as well as the Holy Marriage 'Blessing' which is breaking down barriers of nationality and race centering on the ideal of God-centred families and True Love between man and woman, expanding and embracing three generations in grandparents and beyond.

After the 'Life and Work of Reverend Moon' presentation by Pastor Loew, WFWP Ireland President Doris McCann outlined "Father Moon's Vision for the Role of Women in the 21st Century", followed by a moving prayer by Patricia Iverson, who tearfully remembered experiences with Father Moon as a Missionary and his visit to Ireland in 2005.


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Syria: Can We Remain Indifferent?

For His Holiness Pope Francis

On the Deliberations of the Workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the Crisis in Syria and the Hopes for the Geneva 2 Conference, January 13, 2014
The horror of violence and death in Syria has brought the world to a renewed reflection, and thereby to a new chance for peace. The Geneva 2 Conference on January 22 allows the people of Syria, the region, and the world to conceive of a fresh start to end violence that has claimed more than 130,000 lives and left a beautiful country in ruins and dislocation. Let us therefore all work in harmony and trust to chart an urgent path to reconciliation and reconstruction.

The first and most urgent step, agreeable to all men and women of goodwill, should be an immediate cease-fire and end to violence of all kinds, an end without political preconditions. All internal combatants should put down their weapons; all foreign powers should take immediate steps to stop the flow of arms and arms funding that feed the escalation of violence and destruction. The immediate cessation of violence is in the interest of all. It is a humanitarian imperative, and represents the first step to reconciliation.

The end of fighting should be accompanied by the immediate start of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. Millions of Syrian people have been displaced. Countless numbers are refugees, being housed temporarily in camps in neighboring countries.The displaced populations are suffering from extreme and life-threatening deprivations of nutrition, safe water, sanitation, electricity, safe shelter, telecommunications, transport, and other basic human needs required by any well-functioning society. Let Syria embark, with the full plentitude of global financial and human support, to a path of rebuilding, one that can begin even before all political and social questions are resolved.

In this vital rebuilding, young people and the poor should be given a preferential role, with access to jobs and to training for vital reconstruction skills. The Syrian economy is in a state of collapse and youth unemployment is pervasive. The re-employment of young people will not only meet urgent material needs, but urgent social and personal needs as well. In this way, the start of material reconstruction can attend to the urgent needs of survival. Inter-community dialogue and reconciliation should also tend to the urgent needs of spiritual and community rebuilding. Syria is built upon a complex, historic, and wondrous tradition of pluralism of religions, ethnicities, and cultures. he Holy See is committed to supporting all religious faiths and communities in Syria to reach a new understanding and significant restoration of trust, after years of inter-communal violence. It is widely understood that the conflict in Syria has drawn its violent force from the conflicts and deep distrust in the region.

As many have noted, the conflict in Syria has often been more about the rivalries of the regional and international powers than about conflicts within the Syrian community itself. On the one hand, this is promising. The people of Syria have lived amongst each other in peace throughout history, and can do so again. On the other hand, the regional conflicts that have engulfed Syria must also be addressed in order to create the conditions for long-lasting peace. To build the basis for regional peace, Geneva 2 needs to ensure inclusive participation of all parties to this conflict, within the region and beyond.

Of particular note is the vital importance of the recent agreement reached between Iran, with the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany, to find an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. This interim agreement gives the world great hope that an extended period of grave distrust between Iran and other nations in the region and beyond might now be followed by a new era of trust and even cooperation. The success of this new agreement would also provide a vital foundation for a lasting peace in Syria. So too would a breakthrough in the ongoing Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations being facilitated by the United States. These, then, are preconditions for lasting peace: an immediate cessation of violence; the start of rebuilding; inter-communal dialogue; and progress to resolve all regional conflicts, and the participation of all regional and global actors in the pursuit of peace in Geneva 2.

They provide a base of security and reconstruction upon which lasting peace can be built. New political forms in Syria are needed, to ensure representation, participation, reform, and the voice and security of all social groups. Political transformation is needed. It is not a precondition for ending violence; rather, it will accompany the cessation of violence and the rebuilding of trust. As Pope Francis said in September of last year, at the time of a prayer vigil for peace:

I once again ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace! Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother's sorrow and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter! 1 Pope Francis, Vigil of Prayer for Peace, 7 September 2013.

Signatories
Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran, H.Em. Georges M.M., Cardinal Cottier H.Em., Roger Cardinal Etchegaray, H.E. General Gianalfonso d'Avossa, H.E. Msgr. Antoine Audo, Rev. Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot,
MCCJ H.E. Amb. Juan Pablo Cafiero, Prof. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, Rev. Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle, OP Rev. Aleksej Dikarev, H.E. President Mohamed ElBaradei, Prof. Joseph Maila, H.E. President Thierry de Montbrial,
Prof. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, H.E. President Romano Prodi, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, H.E. Msgr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, H.E. Amb. Piotr V. Stegniy H.E., Msgr. Silvano M. Tomasi, C.S. Prof. William F. Vendley, Dr. Thomas Walsh, Lic. Miguel Werner.

  

The Universal Peace Federation and the Global Peace Council


     The Global Peace Council is a international movement pursuing lasting peace as the realization of harmony, cooperation and co-prosperity among all the members of the human family, through the application of universal moral and spiritual principles. In a word, it seeks to "Build a Global Culture of Heart and a World of Lasting Peace."

     Because durable peace will only be realized as current thinking and practices are transformed by grounding our most fundamental perspectives in universal values, the Peace Council first need to develop a broad range of programs that underscore the need for:

     Interreligious cooperation among all faith traditions as a pre-requisite for world peace
Good governance grounded in spiritual and moral principles that highlight unselfish service, a global vision, and cooperation between religious and governmental leaders, and Human development which includes spiritual development and extends from the individual, to the family, community, society, nation and world.


Key Action Principles

  • The primary principle and cardinal virtue for peace is unselfishness, namely, the capacity and strength to live for the sake of others.
  • The family is the school of true love and ethics, and is the foundation of the good society.
  • Peace begins with personal transformation in relationship to God or the ultimate reality, and extends to the family, the society, the nation and the world.
  • When we seek to understand our world from God's point of view, aware of our eternal spiritual life, there are no enemies, only brothers and sisters.
  • Interreligious harmony and cooperation are prerequisites for peace.
  • Harmony and cooperation between political and religious leaders is necessary for lasting peace.
  • Through the practice of true love, divisions can be bridged, barriers overcome, and conflicting parties reconciled.
  • The world is at a critical turning point; courageous, bold and unselfish leadership is needed if peace is to be achieved.
  • Coercive force yields only an interruption in conflict, and violence offers no lasting solution; peace is built on the foundation of true love and service.
     


UPF Inaugural Tour & Founder's Vision


      Where do you start to describe something as extraordinary as Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon's sense of passion, divine calling and commitment to undertake a tour of 100 cities in 67 countries around the world in just 100 days to mark the launch of the Universal Peace Federation?

      The schedule alone seemed to defy convention and logic given the high walls of bureaucracy and caution in a post 9-11 world And, if it were logistically possible, would Father Moon, only a month shy of his 86th birthday, have the stamina to get up on the stage each evening when it came time to deliver his message?

      Well, now we know that it was possible. The tour started at the Lincoln Center in New York September 12 and concluded in Toronto December 23, a little over 3 months later, after more than 70,000 miles, 280 hours of airtime, and 60 time zones. Dr. Moon proved to have more stamina than most of the crowds and all of his traveling companions, sometimes speaking long after midnight. "I'm sorry if I make you suffer," he would say with a smile, "but I may never meet you again, so I have to share everything that is in my heart."

      And what of the lofty goals of the Universal Peace Federation, which, in the words of its Founder, should address and even help solve the very problems the United Nations has wrestled with for more than sixty years without success? Early in his life, Dr. Moon had a profound encounter with God who revealed Himself as the grieving parent of all humankind longing for the return of His lost and wounded children.

     On this tour, Dr. Moon introduced three important goals— First, the founding of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). The UPF has the mission to help the United Nations, which represents all nations and all political leadership of the world, to find renew itself through the spiritual wisdom and insight from the world¡¯s faith leaders. This task is even more urgent because so many of the world¡¯s most intractable disputes have a religious element.

     Secondly, before nations can think about ending conflict and make peace, individuals and families must break down barriers of race, religion, ethnicity and culture. How? Through loving one¡¯s enemy to the point where the children of enemy nations and peoples marry each other. It is a high wall to climb, but what else can bring people together?

     Third, for all peoples of the world to be able to live as one family we must all share the same opportunities. Through visionary projects like the Bering Strait Tunnel and the International Highway Project introduced on this tour, the UPF is working to inspire new, world changing links between nations and peoples.

     ¡°I leave you with a choice,¡± Father Moon would say each evening to the Ambassadors for Peace "Will you join with me as I rise and gain strength in accordance with heavenly fortune? Or will you miss this chance and risk a lifetime of regret? I ask you all to devote your best efforts for the development and success of the Universal Peace Federation."
Michael Balcomb, New York, United States, January 6, 2006

Peace Initiatives


Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI)


     UPF formally launched its Middle East Peace Initiative with an international consultation held on February 27-March 2, 2003, in Washington DC. The program was titled, Beyond Coexistence Toward a New Culture of Peace: Focus on the Middle East. That and subsequent consultations have been designed to offer a broad approach to the challenges facing the Middle East with a focus on bringing religious leaders to the table along with political, academic and activist experts. The issues range from deeply detailed reflections on Israel and Palestine to broader, theoretical reflections on the clash of, or dialogue among, civilizations.
 

Irish UPF members in attendance at the Middle East Peace Initiatives Pilgrimages.
 

World Peace King Bridge Tunnel

Engineers and Diplomats Support New Link between Russia, US

      Engineers, scholars and diplomats participating today in the first gathering of the Universal Peace Federation spoke out in strong support of an idea to build a 52 mile, $200bn tunnel across the Bering Strait between Russia and the United States.
The idea of a passage between Russia and America was first conceived in 1849, but for over 150 years it has always been treated as a fantasy, if not an impossibility. But in recent months, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Universal Peace Federation, has been reviving interest in this most ambitious idea, and it seems the idea is gaining ground.
The Bering Strait passage is a "bridge to tomorrow, or rather a tunnel," says Craig Burroughs, Treasurer of the InterHemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel and Railroad Company. Railroads have historically brought economic growth and prosperity, says Burroughs, and economic growth and prosperity bring peace. ¡°It is time to stop just talking about helping the poor and miserable of the Third World,¡± he says, ¡°and improving the global transportation system is one of the first things the wealthy countries can do to help.¡±

Burroughs outlined a proposal for not just a set of three tunnels under the Bering Strait, but a minimum of a 5000 mile railroad from Canada to Beijing that will connect all East Asia with North America. "It will bring great advances in communications and open up the vast but currently inaccessible resources of Siberia, including oil, gas and minerals to the world. Moreover it will create millions of jobs worldwide, without ruining the environment."
"The technical surveys have also been very encouraging," he says. Geological studies show that the tunnel is feasible with today's technology. The rock is granite, which needs no lining, and moreover the tunnel bore waste materials can put to direct use to form the track of the railway.

As far as cost, Burroughs estimated around $60bn, with at least another $60 billion to pay for a new 5000 mile multi-track high speed railway, electrification and tunnel. "But even these huge sums are just a fraction of the US defense budget," he said. "A tunnel is a problem solver, not a problem maker."
In response, Russian diplomat and academician Professor Konstantin Dolgov took issue with those who would characterize the project as a "tunnel from nowhere to nowhere" as being narrow and shortsighted. In fact, he said, there is a long history of friendship between Russia and Alaska - Alaska used to be Russian territory.


Building a tunnel or bridge between these two nations could be the final diplomatic step to end the decades of competition and hostility caused by the cold war and return to a friendlier time. "The Russian people deeply want peace," said Dolgov. "Of course we are very interested in the economic possibilities that would come with opening a passage to the United States. But it goes further than that. We see engineering and diplomacy as sister disciplines, helping people to see things in a new way. Diplomacy itself is about building bridges and tunnels between peoples and nations."


The Rev. Moon shares the same confidence. In a speech planned for the Lincoln Center on the evening of September 12th, Moon says, "Some may be afraid of the scale of such a project, but where there is a will, there is a way. Especially when it is God's Will!" Even the enormous construction costs are not a problem, says Moon, when compared to the astronomical sums currently being spent on war. Investment in peace will always pay for itself.
Members the Universal Peace Federation's tunnel discussions agree: "Thanks to the Rev. Moon's vision, I think we just might see the light at the end of the tunnel," says Burroughs.


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