HWPL Presents Practical Peace for Ending War and Conflict in Mindanao, Philippines
HWPL urges people of the world to have the mindset of ‘We are One’ to become one in peace!
HWPL urges people of the world to have the mindset of ‘We are One’ to become one in peace!
HWPL, a Korean peace organisation that exports peace
The world has made efforts to resolve conflicts and establish peace, but in recent decades, there has been a major change in the origins of conflicts. After the end of the Cold War, ethnic and religious identities emerged as a major source of conflict. Ethnic and religious conflicts have increased significantly, accounting for more than 80% of conflicts that occur worldwide. The emergence of this new conflict structure requires a new approach. Although the entities that can cause conflict have expanded to groups and individuals beyond the state, it also means that the entities that can resolve conflicts can also be expanded to the private level of organisations and individuals rather than just the state. In this world, anyone can take action to realise global peace.
Mindanao was once the site of the largest armed conflict in Southeast Asia. Due to the political, economic, and cultural discrimination and contradictions that accumulated since the colonial period of Spain and the United States, armed groups formed and fought since the 1960s. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had been active in Mindanao as a base, was the largest armed group in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. In the 2010s, the Philippine government declared an all-out war with the MILF, which resulted in 120,000 casualties. The conflict in Mindanao clearly shows the crisis facing the global village, and the proliferation of conflicts based on ethnic/religious identities that emerged in the 21st century. Peace in Mindanao was a problem directly related to security issues not only in the Philippines, but in Southeast Asia and the world at large.
Following these casualties, the Mindanao Peace Process emerged. The peace process was supported by international non-governmental organisations along with the governments of Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UK, as well as Malaysia, the mediator of the official government-MILF peace agreement. In addition to the official process, international organisations such as the European Union and Islamic Cooperation Organisation, and various private organisations supported peace and provided humanitarian aid to establish peace. The conflict did not end by simply signing a peace treaty. Peace in Mindanao showed the need for a fundamental and long-term approach across politics, economics, society, and culture to prevent a recurrence of war. HWPL, headquartered in the Republic of Korea, started this journey of peace in Mindanao.
Mindanao Peace Declaration, HWPL Mindanao Peace Agreement
Efforts for peace in Mindanao, which had not even been attempted at the Korean government level, began in the private sector. In 2013, Man-Hee Lee, the Chairman of HWPL, visited Mindanao, where tensions were rampant due to military clashes. Chairman Lee visited many nations to build international solidarity for peace on the Korean Peninsula and around the world, and to appeal for cooperation and support. It was a new approach at the private level to conclude a peace agreement between Mindanao’s local leaders and non-governmental organisations.
At the time of the agreement, Chairman Lee asked the attendees, “Do you want peace or war?” and when all the participants raised their hands that they wanted peace, he said, “Then, please sign the peace agreement,” and greeted the Catholic-Muslims who attended the site. He called on them to stop conflict and do their best in reconciliation and cooperation for the sake of peace. After signing the agreement, two leaders representing local Islam and Catholicism, government and private sector, politics, and religion joined hands. This was the declaration of the beginning of the path to peace in Mindanao, and it was the signal to enter a world where religions and countries can become one in peace. January 24 is now the anniversary of the peace agreement in Mindanao, and is celebrated with festivals and events to commemorate peace.
Peace as an institution and culture – the foundation stone for long-term peace
The civil peace agreement mediated by HWPL was a declaration for permanent peace in Mindanao. After that, HWPL and all relevant parties, including local political and religious groups, and civil society, began to cooperate for peace. At the regional level, from 2019 to 2020, major cities in Mindanao, such as Kotabato City and Davao City, have resolved to support and implement the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) announced by HWPL. It is the political base of the president and current vice president, Sarah Duterte. The DPCW aims to spread the culture of peace and the basic principles for the prohibition, prevention, and resolution of conflicts and wars, and was written jointly by HWPL and international law experts. The DPCW has been developed and functions as an international legal document with legal, institutional and normative functions by international organisations, central and local governments, and civil society.
In addition, along with civil society organisations, we are continuing a peace awareness campaign in which citizens participate and build a peace monument. The peace monument is a symbol of peace that reminds us of the spirit of coexistence and respect in our daily lives. Examples include Camp Dharapanan of Sultan Kudarat, a former military base for militants, and a peace monument built in the Purok Tongkie area of Kotabato City, where armed conflicts between Muslims, Christians, and indigenous peoples were frequent in the past. As fighters returned to their daily lives one after another due to the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and armed groups, they melted their weapons and erected a monument as a symbol of the transition to a world of peace.
At the national level, efforts are being made to establish peace through cooperation with central government departments in the field of education. HWPL has been implementing peace education at the international level, as suggested by the United Nations and UNESCO, to students and citizens in the Philippines, starting with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with 70 educational institutions in Mindanao in February 2016. Education focusing on character development in line with the era of peace is a recent international educational trend. Recently, HWPL’s peace education has been evaluated as being more systemised than UNESCO’s civil education, which was recently introduced on a pilot basis by some local governments in Korea.
In the Philippines in 2018, an MOU was signed with the Higher Education Commission (CHED), an organisation under the direct control of the president, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, to develop curriculum and expand peace education nationwide. Through this cooperation, 2,551 teachers from 557 educational institutions are trained in the Philippines alone, contributing to peace education for 23,000 students (200 teachers in Mindanao and 5,000 students).
Regarding the achievements made in Mindanao since 2013, when a peace agreement was signed at the private level, HWPL Chairman Man-Hee Lee says that it is not an individual achievement, but ‘a work done by God’ and ‘a God-accompanied work’. While the fruits of peace are bearing fruit wherever mysterious and miraculous powers lead the cooperation of the global village, he always emphasises, “Let’s all become messengers of peace and leave peace as a legacy for future generations.” The possibility of peace emphasised by HWPL will become a reality when people around the world take the lead and become one in peace.
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) is an international peace organisation established for the cessation of war in the global village and world peace. HWPL is a non-governmental organisation registered with the UN Global Communications Agency (DGC) and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a special consultative status organisation and registered in Seoul, Korea. HWPL’s main business is threefold.
1. International Law of Peace
On March 14, 2016, HWPL published Article 10, Paragraph 38 of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) in order to prepare a legal mechanism to ensure and maintain peace at the national and international level. With this at its core, peace activities are being conducted with the goal of establishing a legal system to ensure sustainable peace.
2. Alliance of Religions
HWPL is operating Religious Union offices in 268 places in 129 countries to resolve ongoing interreligious conflicts and disputes around the world. The goal is to achieve harmony between religions by opening religious peace camps and Dialogue for People of Faith through which religious leaders and religious people can share and understand the value of peace contained in the religious scriptures.
3. Peace Education
HWPL presented peace education as a way to leave the world of peace as a legacy for future generations. In order to sustain the world of peace in the long term, we are striving to foster a sense of citizenship for future generations, the protagonists of the global village, with the values of peace.