(Remarks of former Speaker Jose de Venecia, co-chairman of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace and special envoy of the Philippine President to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and for Intercultural Dialogue, at the “Rally of Hope” on September 27, 2020)
We commend Dr.HakJa Han Moon, co-founder of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and founder of the Sunhak Peace Prize, who – like her beloved husband – the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon – has been working tirelessly to advance the cause of peace in our troubled world, even in the midst of the global pandemic.
We wish all of you – speakers and participants – peace and joy, as we come together in search for mutual understandingin the global community.
Peace in the world is our universal longing – and our most shared, yet elusive goal.
We, however, refuse to believe that we have lost the will, the spirit, the ability to forge a renewed sense of community that will enable us together to deal authoritatively with our collective problems.
We believe brotherhood, understanding, and cooperation have a place in global society – just as they have in our face-to-face communities.
And we see the building blocks of a new world order in the institutions of global civil society – like the UPF and the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) – already at work on most international issues and challenges, especially in erecting an edifice of peace, in creating a better world for the next generation.
What can we do to help speed up the building of global community?
What contributions can we make in the building of a road map for peace in the Asia-Pacific Region and in the world?
On the raging conflicting claims in the South China Sea, we have repeatedly pointed out that there is the potential for a peaceful settlement. That is, to temporarily shelve the issue of sovereignty to pave the way for joint exploration and joint development of the disputed area’s resources.
From an area of conflict, it could be transformed into a landscape and seascape of small seaports, airports, and oil pipelines. Fishing villages and small tourism townships could rapidly rise and the contested areas could become the untrammelled passage way for global shipping, carrying more than 50 percent of the sea fright of the world.
The idea of “win-win cooperation,” of a pragmatic sharing of resources could help build a model for lessening tensions and solving conflicts, and avoiding the possibility of war in Asia’s manifold and dangerous flashpoints.
No to Cold War in the Asia-Pacific
Between Moscow and Washington, between Washington and Beijing, and between Moscow and the European powers, mutual accommodation must be found that gives the parties strategic reassurance and respect for their core interests.
Ironically, the hard-won peace between the earlier Cold War principals – the United States and the former Soviet Union – has enabled the smaller countries to enjoy well over a generation of political stability and economic growth.
We declare we want no new Cold War in the Asia Pacific. Nor do we wish any state in our Asian region or in any other region to play either the “American Card” or the “China Card” or the “Russian Card.”
We welcome the recent establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain as a giant step – on a journey of many, many steps – for achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East.
It is an historic moment which ushers a fresh beginning for the region which has been plagued by military confrontations and bloody conflicts over the centuries.
On the lingering conflict and dangerous flashpoint in the Korean Peninsula, we urge the revival of the long-postponed six-party talks among the US, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea which would contribute to enhancing political stability and security not only in the Korean Peninsula but in the Asia Pacific region.
Most importantly, hopefully, someday North Korea and South Korea can perhaps be connected by a loose confederation, until at some point in the future they can become a united republic, with alternating presidency. It is a difficult but not an impossible dream because the two Vietnams and the two Germanys eventually reunited after many years of division and conflict.
We in Asia and the global community must build on the historic direct talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which we hope will eventually lead to a roadmap to an eventual unification and a lasting peace in the Korean peninsula.
We also urge our grouping in this conference to devote time and effort to help revive and start off a new series of the “Interfaith Dialogues” that we initiated in the United Nations system in 2004, as a way of helping resolve politico-religious conflicts, strengthening the religious moderates, and isolating those who advocate terrorism and violent extremism in the name of religion.
The Interfaith Dialogue upholds a global culture of peace and mutual understanding.
On the raging Sunni-Shiite issues, one cannot discount the magnitude of the barriers that intense doctrinal separation has raised between these two great schools of Islam.
In my earlier letters to Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah and Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, we said that it would be of great relief to the Middle East, Asia, and the world, if the two leaders of Islam, representing the Sunnis and Shiites, respectively, of the Muslim world, could perhaps meet in Mecca and explore ways and means of bringing about the beginnings of reconciliation and the end of violence in the lands of Islam.
“These are the times that test men’s souls” wrote philosopher and political theorist Thomas Maine.
In these moments of enormous challenge and uncertainty, we seek strength in unity and a sense of shared purpose born out of our common dream – peace in our countries, in our region, and in the world.