HWPL Presents Practical Peace to Cease War and Conflict in Mindanao, Philippines
Changes in the Concept of Peace and the Peace Activities Needed at the Present Time
After the resolution of ideological conflicts after the Cold War, unforeseen ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts were revealed. The concept of peace is changing to adapt to these new phenomena. With SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) as a bifurcation, the United Nations is shifting the focus of peace activities from the peace-keeping activities limited to intervening in the event of armed conflict to sustainable peace and activities focused on prevention.
In this process, the scope of civil society, including non-governmental organizations, to participate in peace activities has also expanded. They are actively engaged in various fields such as protection, monitoring, and creating a culture of peace. Also, various NGOs in Europe are continuing peace activities such as providing peace education and training, advice on peace activities, and human rights agreements.
Currently, the Russia-Ukraine war has been underway for more than 100 days, resulting about 10,000 civilian casualties and injuries, and 700 million refugees. In response, efforts are being made to cease the war through cooperation between individual countries and governments, and the international community is also calling for civil society activities to block the possibility of war and create a culture and consciousness that can establish long-term peace.
HWPL, a Peace Organization Active in All Walks of Life
There is an International Peace Organization in the Republic of Korea, called Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), actively working with all sectors of the society in peace-building process. As a Korean War veteran, HWPL Chairman Man Hee Lee is spreading peace to all corners of the world by bringing people’s attention to the world with ongoing tragic war and providing answers for peace.
In keeping with ‘the spirit of the Declaration of World Peace’, HWPL isleading an international peace movement with leaders in all walks of life, including leaders from politics, law, education, religion, and media, without being limited by national, cultural, or ideological boundaries. Moreover, HWPL seeks to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by spreading a culture of peace through various means such as forums, education, volunteer work, and campaigns. Among them, HWPL’s hallmark achievement is its contribution to the peace of Mindanao, the Philippines, ending the 50-year history of conflict.
Mindanao Peace Agreement of HWPL
Southeast Asia. Although the Philippines won independence in 1946, it faced elements of ethnic conflict, including the radical changes in the legacy and institutions of colonial rule, and different languages, religions, and cultures. As a result, the Moro people (a Muslim ethnic group of Mindanao Island and the Sulu Archipelago, the Philippines) were placed in the position of ethnic and religious minorities. Of these, military clashes between the government and Moro people, which began in the late 1960s, resulted in more than 120,000 deaths and 3.5 million refugees who lost their homes and livelihood.
To resolve such conflicts, various international non-governmental organizations continued their efforts to establish peace. And in 2013, HWPL also joined efforts for peace with a new civilian approach to signing a peace agreement between Mindanao’s local leaders and NGOs.
In January of the following year, HWPL succeeded in drawing a civil peace agreement. At the time of the agreement, Chairman Lee asked all participants if they wanted peace or war, and when they raised their hands for peace, Chairman Lee called forward the two leaders of Catholic and Islam who attended the site to sign the peace agreement, urged them to stop the conflict, and do their best for reconciliation and cooperation for peace.
After signing the agreement, two leaders representing local Islam religion and Catholic church, government and private sector, politics and religion joined hands. This was a declaration of the path to bring peace in Mindanao, as well as the trigger to become one with peace which transcends religions and nations. Since then, January 24 has become the anniversary of the peace agreement in Mindanao until now, as well as the day of festivals and events to commemorate the peace of Mindanao.
Peace as an Institution and Culture – the Foundation of Long-Term Peace
The civil peace agreement mediated by HWPL was a declaration for a permanent peace in Mindanao. Since then, HWPL and all relevant parties, including officials from local politics, religion, and civil society, have begun cooperation for peace. At the regional level, major cities in Mindanao, including Cotabato City and Davao City, voted to support and implement the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) proclaimed by HWPL from 2019 to 2020. The DPCW was drafted by HWPL and international law experts from different countries, focusing on the basic principles for the prohibition, prevention, and resolution of conflicts and wars that arise and to spread a peaceful culture. The DPCW is developed and functioning as an international legal instrument with legal, institutional, and normative functions by international organizations, central and local governments, and civil society
In addition, HWPL is continuing a campaign to raise awareness of peace in which citizens participate along with civil society organizations and building a peace monument. The peace monument is a symbol of peace that reminds the spirit of coexistence and respect in everyday life. The representative HWPL peace monuments are the ones built in the Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, which was once a military base of the armed forces, and in Cotabato City, a region where armed conflicts between Muslims, Christians, and indigenous peoples were frequent in the past. As combatants returned to their daily lives one after another due to the implementation of peace agreement between the government and armed groups, a monument made out of their melted weapons became a symbol of the transition to a world of peace. At the national level, efforts are being expanded to establish peace through cooperation withcentral government ministries and the field of education. Since February 2016, HWPL has been provide the peace education fit for international standard suggested by UN and UNESCO to students and citizens in the Philippines, since the signing of MOUs with 70 educational institutions in Mindanao. Civic education, which focuses on cultivating character in line with the era of peace, has recently been an international trend in education. As HWPL's peace education is evaluated to have a high level of systematicity, UNESCO's various national committees have signed MOUs with HWPL and are introducing peace education.
In the Philippines, HWPL signed an MOU with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the attached agency to the Office of the President in 2018, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the curriculum on peace education is being developed and implemented nationwide. Through this cooperation, 2,551 teachers from 557 educational institutions in the Philippines alone are trained, contributing to peace education for up to 23,000 students.
Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL urged, "Let all the global community become the messengers of peace and leave the peace as a legacy for the future generations," emphasizing that the realization of peace can also be achieved through the participation of citizens all over the globe.