The international forum that opened Wednesday in Seoul is being held at a time when a crisis has escalated on the divided peninsula over North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions, sparked last October when Washington said Pyongyang admitted to developing a highly enriched uranium program.
The World Summit on Leadership and Governance is aimed at "clarifying, discovering, and opening up new paths to peace" as part of efforts to develop "the culture, structure and policies of peace for a world in crisis," organizers said.
The leadership summit was hosted by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church. The IIFWP has a global network of world leaders dedicated to working together for world peace. Moon also is the founder of News World Communications, which owns United Press International.
Discussions focused on how to explore innovative models of leadership and ways of government to bring about world peace, and reflect the goals and effectiveness of the United Nations, organizers said.
During the forum that ends Friday, participants also will be discussing specific policies designed to bring peace to areas of conflict and tension on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, they said.
"We gathered today with the fervent desire for an eternal and unchanging world of peace, which is the ideal heavenly world," Moon said in a speech at the opening ceremony.
World leaders should become "active participants in recreating your families and nations in true love and in bringing about an everlasting world of peace where there is no national boundaries," Moon told some 700 people who packed a spacious room at a Seoul hotel.
Among those taking the seats reserved for VIPs were former Polish President Lech Walesa; Betty Williams who won the 1976 Nobel Peace prize for Northern Ireland peace activities; East Timor independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta; former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and former Belarusian President H.E. Stanislav.
The participants also included about 100 former and incumbent heads of state and governments, parliamentarians and ambassadors, along some 700 experts from diverse backgrounds such as in theology, academia, the media and nongovernmental organizations.
"The role of world leaders are very important in promoting peace on the Korean peninsula," said Walesa, who won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize. "We are here to explore the ways to address and find solutions to the critical problems," he told UPI.
Since its inauguration in Seoul in 1987, when 85 world leaders attended, the world leadership summit has provided a venue to brainstorm and formulate ideas for the peaceful settlement of global conflicts and disputes.