Statement by the President of the International Progress Organization at Inter-religious Peace Summit in Seoul.
I.P.O. Information Service
Seoul (Korea), 20 September 2014
At a recent "Peace Summit" of the World Alliance of Religions, the President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Köchler, expressed his organization’s support to a worldwide movement for amending the Charter of the United Nations Organization – with the aim of making the ban on the international use of force legally effective. He critiziced the UN Charter for its lack of consistency. On the one hand, the Charter outlaws the threat or use of force against any state (Article 2); on the other, it allows parties to a dispute – namely member states in the Security Council involved in armed conflict – to vote on coercive measures concerning that very conflict (Article 27). This means that some of the most powerful countries, the Security Council’s permanent members, due to their veto privilege are effectively in a position to wage war with impunity, Dr. Köchler explained. This outright contradiction between two basic provisions of the Charter not only hampers the effectiveness of the world organization, but undermines its legitimacy as guardian of peace and guarantor of the international rule of law.
To be consistent in one’s commitment to the norms of behavior is a basic moral duty, at individual as well as at state level. One cannot outlaw violence in general and, at the same time, introduce rules that make the exercise of violence permissible. The human commitment to honesty and truthfulness means that one has to be consistent in the profession of basic norms of behavior. In the face of the persistent failure of politicians, Dr. Köchler called upon religious leaders to make it crystal clear that it is the duty of all states together to eliminate the normative contradictions concerning the use of force in the UN Charter. This is not an esoteric or merely bureaucratic issue, but a question of moral credibility of the international community as such.
The President of the I.P.O. spoke at a special session on “Conflicts and Peacebuilding” at the Peace Summit of the World Alliance of Religions in Seoul, South Korea (17-18 September 2014). In the same session, the former President of Albania, H.E. Rexhep Meidani, also called for an urgent reform of the UN Security Council concerning its enforcement powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. In the debate following the presentations, the President of the I.P.O. joined the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, H.E. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, in his call for worldwide action and legal measures against the use of violence in entertainment, in particular in the electronic media.
The conference was attended by close to 1,000 foreign delegates from all continents, including political, religious and youth leaders representing major religions and denominations, and representatives of secular and human rights movements. According to an estimate of the organizers, almost 200,000 people observed the opening ceremony in and outside the Seoul Olympic Stadium.
Together with a coalition of NGOs from all around the globe, the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.) was co-sponsor of the event. Among the speakers at the opening ceremony and the subsequent keynote sessions were H.E. Haris Silajdžić, Member of the Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (2006-2010); His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop emeritus of Manila (Philippines); H.E. Emil Constantinescu, former President of Romania; H.E. Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister of Ireland; His Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj, President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram (India); the Venerable Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, founder of Sitagu Buddha Vihara (India); as well as leaders of Sikh and Jewish communities. Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa) sent a special message to the participants.
Upon conclusion of the proceedings, the political leaders assembled at the conference adopted an appeal to the United Nations Organization for an amendment of the rules of international law so as to effectively criminalize war as a means of foreign policy.
The religious leaders assembled at the Peace Summit jointly signed a call for unity among all religions in the pursuit of peace – so as “to leave a world at peace as a legacy for our future generations.”
On the sidelines of the conference, the President of the I.P.O. met with Prof. Yong-Bock Kim, Chancellor of the Asia Pacific Center for Integral Study of Life (South Korea), Mr. Varadan Chandar, Trustee of Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust (India), and Dr. Teresa Langle de Paz, representative of the Foundation “Culture of Peace” (Spain).