- - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

One hundred and fifty current members of parliaments from 50 nations convened in Seoul in February to propose the establishment of an organization without precedent.

The International Parliamentarians for Peace Association’s (IPPA) founding resolution, signed by the legislators present, read in part: “As we gather in Seoul, we are especially mindful that the Korean Peninsula remains divided, and the potential for conflict or even the outbreak of a wider war is ever-present. North Korea continues to develop its nuclear weapons program, raising serious concern throughout Northeast Asia and among member states of the United Nations. Even now, 60 years after the Korean War, it remains impossible to communicate or freely travel between the two nations. It behooves us to do all we can to contribute to the resolution of this tragic conflict.”

Under the auspices of the Universal Peace Federation, a New York-based NGO in full consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the parliamentarians were invited to hold their inaugural meeting at the Korean National Assembly at the invitation of Rep. Kim Eul-dong.

They were joined by 20 other Korean lawmakers, international diplomats based in Korea from eight countries, 40 members from the Ministers for Peace association and more than 40 journalists.

North Korea’s provocation is a security crisis, not just for South Korea but for all East Asia,” said Ms. Kim. She called for the unification of the peninsula, noting that this division has “left a painful heart among the people,” and proposed that the U.N. open a fifth headquarters office, to be located in Korea.



The delegation was welcomed by National Assembly of Korea Speaker Chung Ui-hwa. Referring to North Korea’s recent nuclear test and intercontinental ballistic missile launching, Mr. Chung said, “This kind of careless behavior from North Korea could be addressed effectively by demonstrating a united will and collaboration from parliamentarians all over the world.”

Dr. Sun Jin Moon, reading the keynote address by her mother and IPPA founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, endorsed the idea of the U.N. considering an Asian office. “Whereas there are U.N. headquarters offices in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, there is no such office in Asia, even though we are living increasingly in an Asian Pacific age. In many ways the geopolitical, economic and social center of gravity of our world is shifting toward Asia,” she said.

Congratulatory messages began with a video message from U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican, who developed a sanctions bill with the U.S. Senate in support of the strong stance the Republic of Korea had taken to stop nuclear development. On Feb. 18 President Obama signed the law, which calls for more and stronger sanctions against North Korea. This effort was then supported by the United Nations.

“The Kim Jong-un regime continues to demonstrate its contempt for the international community,” said Mr. Royce, who is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “His relentless pursuit of a nuclear arsenal comes at the expense of his own people and at the expense of peace in the entire region. Our sanctions bill is designed to ratchet up pressure on the dictatorship by cutting off the hard currency he needs to pay off his top generals and maintain his rule,” Mr. Royce said in the video message.

He added, “This clear bipartisan approach will put an end to this nuclear brinkmanship and ask that you as members of parliament can do all you can to support this effort. I am looking forward to welcoming President Park Geun-hye to Washington for the Nuclear Strategic Summit.”

Other speakers at the inaugural meeting included members of parliament from Liberia, Jordan, the Czech Republic, Nepal and Malaysia.

Australian Rep. David Clarke, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council (Sydney area) and Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, attended the Seoul meeting as a founding member of the new organization. He said the new addition to global peace efforts is to be “enthusiastically applauded,” adding that one initial task would be to work toward “a peaceful reunification of Korea and a lessening and then removal of the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. [This] will further advance and enhance efforts by the Free World to obtain positive outcomes for the Korean people and world peace.”

No matter what happens, it is most likely that the Korean Peninsula will face, in the not-too-distant future, the problem of real-world unification of two very different systems in the North and South. Not only is that the case, but the people of North and South Korea have evolved into two separate and very different cultures. In the South the generation of wealth through free enterprise is second nature. In the North there is no education for how a person functions in a free economy, and there hasn’t been any education of that kind for more than 70 years.

Collectively, a gathering of legislators from many nations has a great deal it can offer in the way of advice to both the members within the group, as well as in an advisory capacity to the leadership of nations. By joining together the nations of Northeast Asia, together with the United States, Japan and South Korea will provide a deterrent to the threat of nuclear weapons in North Korea. All nations in the region can begin constructing a cooperative environment for peace and prosperity.

The Hon. Dan Burton was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1983-2013), and the Hon. Jose de Venecia Jr. was speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines (1992-1998 and 2001-2008). They are co-chairmen of the International Parliamentarians Peace Association.

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