- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2009

NEW YORK | The path to peace will be impossible to navigate without a more caring brand of capitalism, democracy, expanded human rights and the rule of law, said speakers Friday at a “World Summit for Peace.”

Anwarul Chowdhury, former Bangladeshi ambassador to the United Nations, said peace is a global human right, as are social and economic development.

“Once the human right to peace is accepted as a universal right, it will provide the foundation for all the other [goals],” he said, including “economic equality and gender justice.”

Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Muhammadiyah, a Malaysian Islamic organization, suggested that a “universal declaration of responsibility” be drafted to complement the 60-year-old landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We are facing global economic and social damage, and what we need is a cumulative global damage control,” he told an audience of nearly 400 people. “We are one family under one God.”

The event, which runs through Sunday and was organized by the Universal Peace Federation, brought together a half-dozen former presidents and prime ministers from countries including Costa Rica, Zambia and Ukraine, and a variety of religious figures to exchange views on promoting an end to conflict.

The summit is among a number of festivities around the world in honor of the 90th birthday Saturday of the Unification Church founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Rev. Moon, whose organization owns The Washington Times, was expected to arrive in New York Saturday morning.

Spirituality was a recurring theme at the summit Friday. Speakers such as Leonid Kravchuk, a former president of Ukraine, urged participants to “look deeper into our essences as human beings.”

“All of us have one thing that connects us and makes us human beings. This is nothing other than our soul, our mind,” he said.

Diversity was another common thread. The conference in a Manhattan hotel was attended by Africans in national dress, Asians in monks’ robes, a few women in headscarves and a man with a startling resemblance to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Ida Betty Odinga, whose husband, Raila Odinga, was elected as Kenya’s prime minister last year amid ethnic strife, stressed the importance of second chances and the acceptance of diversity.

Drawing an analogy to big-game parks in her country, Mrs. Odinga said a zoo of majestic lions or a park filled only with beautiful zebras would grow boring after a while.

“The beauty of us is our different ethnicities and cultures; we are different people,” she said, noting there are 42 tribes in Kenya.

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