- - Wednesday, August 30, 2017

As the world faces a wide range of 21st century challenges and threats — including the current crisis with North Korea — it becomes increasingly clear that in order to address and solve critical global problems, a more collaborative and multisectoral approach to governance and international relations is required. While the Westphalian system of world order, centered on sovereign states, has prospered and endured for centuries, we face a wide range of global or transnational problems that require the full complement of stakeholders being engaged. That is, not only governments, but also non-state actors from civil society to the private sector and, indeed, faith-based organizations.

Stated a bit differently, the hard power instruments of government must be increasingly augmented by the soft power instruments aimed at building trust, confidence, mutual respect and understanding where there may only be suspicion, acrimony, bitter resentments or hostility. Parliamentarians can serve as a bridge between government and civil society and between the hard and soft power approaches to peace and human development.

With this in mind, the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) was founded by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and launched by the Universal Peace Federation, an NGO in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, to form a collaborative, global network of parliamentarians, working alongside representatives of civil society, faith-based organizations and the private sector, for the sake of peace and human development.

Parliamentarians are uniquely qualified to serve as advocates for peace and human development. As representatives of the people, they stand as mediators between government and civil society. Their experience with the practical challenges related to law-making and public policy gives them unique set skills and insights that are required if we are to forge a path to peace and bring solutions to the critical challenges of our time, including poverty, conflict, cyber-crime, the rise of extremist movements, environmental threats, and even the various culture wars that divide the human family.

Given that we live in an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world, the global nature of such problems require global cooperation and coordination.

IAPP will provide a forum for parliamentarians from all nations and political parties, allowing them to come together in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation in order to search for solutions to local, national, regional and global problems.

IAPP will work cooperatively and collaboratively with the many existing organizations and associations of parliamentarians around the world, some formally organized as intergovernmental bodies and others informally associated.

The primary objectives of IAPP include the following:

To promote good governance in all sectors of society;

To develop high-quality educational programs for parliamentarians;

To promote and encourage dialogue and cooperation among parliamentarians from nations around the world with the aim of promoting peace and human development;

To uphold core, universal principles, recognizing that all human beings are members of one global family;

To protect, preserve and uphold the dignity and value of each human being;

To strengthen the family as the central and most fundamental institution of human society;

To work to build trust, mutual respect, and cooperation among the world’s peoples; and

To encourage respectful, interreligious dialogue as essential to building a peaceful world.

Since its founding in February 2016, IAPP has been launched in more than 30 nations throughout the world, generating substantial enthusiasm and support. The international co-chairs of IAPP are the Hon. Dan Burton, former member of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress, and Hon. Jose De Venecia, former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. In recent months, IAPP programs were convened in India, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Australia, Bolivia, Benin, Togo, Indonesia and Israel. It is expected that by the end of 2017 there will be more than 70 national-level chapters of the IAPP, engaging well over 2,000 parliamentarians from diverse political parties.

IAPP has the potential to make significant contributions to the effort to promote peace around the world, including in Northeast Asia. For example, a delegation of IAPP members from Nepal were part of a high-level visit to North Korea in August of this year, where substantive discussions took place, including a proposal for follow-up meetings in Pyongyang involving the UPF and IAPP.

Thomas G. Walsh, Ph.D., is Chairman of Universal Peace Federation International, which has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. He is Secretary-General of the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation, and also serves on the International Council of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and on the board of directors of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom.

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