Lee Hyo-Jin of The Korea Times covered the Global Peace Leadership Conference Indo-Pacific 2023 held in New Delhi, India on April 11-13, 2023. Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, the co-founder and chairman of the Global Peace Foundation, delivered the keynote speech on April 13 to the many prominent national and regional experts, politicians, as well as spiritual and civil society leaders that gathered in person and online.

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NEW DELHI, India ― India is a land of spiritual heritage, with its dynamic history and culture dating back to the beginning of human civilization. The South Asian nation now has a population of more than 1.3 billion, earning the title of the largest democratic country in the world.

On the global stage, India is raising its presence as a bridging nation between various power states. Holding presidencies of both the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this year, much attention is paid to how the country will position itself as the leader of emerging and developing nations.

The rising geopolitical position of India served as a perfect background for the Global Peace Foundation (GPF), a Washington D.C.-based non-profit group, to host its 2023 Global Peace Leadership Conference in New Delhi, the capital of India. The forum was co-hosted with the Indian Council for International Cooperation, Manav Rachna University and Yuvsatta, a local civic group for the youth.

The event, which took place from April 11 to 13 at Le Meridien New Dehli, was held under the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: Vision for Advancing Human Consciousness and Peace.” Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is a Sanskrit phrase that means “the world is one family,” a mantra that provides a basis for global cooperation in resolving shared challenges and conflicts.

The three-day event brought together thousands of guests and delegates including spiritual gurus, scholars, civic activists, politicians and students from various countries including India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Kenya and Uganda.

Among some renowned guests were Markandey Rai, chairman of GPF India, Chidanand Saraswati, the president of the Parmath Niketan Ashram, a spiritual institution based in India, Marsudi Syuhud, vice general chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council and Daniel Juma, leader of GPF Kenya.

In his keynote speech, Hyunjin Preston Moon, the founder and chairman of GPF, highlighted the significance of hosting the conference in India, calling it “the cradle of ancient civilization in the heart of Asia.”

Dignitaries of the 2023 Global Peace Leadership Conference, including Hyunjin Preston Moon, fourth from left, chairman of Global Peace Foundation, pose during a high plenary session held in New Delhi, April 13. Courtesy of Global Peace Foundation
Hyun Jin Preston Moon, founder and chairman of the Global Peace Foundation (GPF), delivers a keynote speech during the 2023 Global Peace Leadership Conference held at Le Meridien New Dehli, India, April 13. Courtesy of GPF

“The world is in crisis,” he said. “There is an alarming cacophony of conflicting ideas about society and the human condition, from the nature of the state to individual identity and gender relations. The result has been widespread political and social instability, uncertainty, and moral confusion.”

He added, “In the realm of geopolitics, we are witnessing the rise of assertive statist powers that are prepared to impose their will on their neighbors, reminiscent of the actions taken by totalitarian regimes of the last century that led to two World Wars and the Cold War.”

Moon then highlighted the growing presence of India as a power state, saying, “This vast region will play a central role in determining the future direction of humanity and the prospects for peace and prosperity in the region. The tides of history are shifting from the Atlantic sphere to the Indo-Pacific.”

Rai, chairman of GPF India and senior advisor of U.N.-Habitat, said that Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the innate spiritual tradition in India, resonates with the peacebuilding movements carried out by the foundation. The chairman also stressed the importance of non-violent mass movements rooted in universal values.

“The global peace foundation’s mission ― one family under God ― is a very simple, yet powerful message that can unite the whole world and that is why I joined the movement from the beginning,” he told The Korea Times, saying that he is one of the founding members of the GPF since its establishment in 2009.

Rai also said India and Korea share a special relationship dating back to the 13th century, as told in the tale of the marriage of Princess Suriratna from India with King Suro of the Gaya Kingdom.

The conference, which was divided into four tracks ― youth empowerment, transforming education for the future, value-based peacebuilding and environmental conservation ― offered the participants an opportunity to share ideas on feasible solutions to pending global issues.

In the youth empowerment session, dozens of students from across India gathered for lectures given by Pramod Sharma, founder of Yuvsatta (youth for peace), a non-government organization based in India, Sharleen Tomobe, program development coordinator at GPF and Wouter Lincklaen Arriens, founder of Transformation First Asia, a consulting firm based in Singapore.

Shin Jin, a professor of political science and diplomacy at Chungnam National University in Korea, participated in the value-based peacebuilding track.

Meanwhile, in the environment conservation track, participants examined some of the best practices on environmental stewardship in India including preservation efforts for the River Ganges River and the Clean India Mission, a government-led initiative to raise public awareness on cleanliness and personal hygiene.