By  Dave Webb

April 17, 2009

Welcome everyone to the 17th Annual Space Organizing Conference and Protest of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. It is wonderful to be here in South Korea. This is the first time that the Global Network has met here – the closest we have come in the past is when we met in Australia in 2003. I have never been to South Korea before either and it is always exciting to go somewhere new but it is especially important for us to be here at this time because it gives us a chance to see first hand the problems faced by the Korean people when their country is occupied by a foreign military force. Unfortunately this is a fate that is shared by many others around the world in one way or another. Being here therefore also gives us the opportunity of meeting and getting to know the people who continually work for peace and justice in a country where the focus is often on war and suppression. We have heard so much about the struggle of the people of Korea and their insistence that they should be allowed to live in peace and determine their own future.

Last year we were in Omaha, Nebraska - the home of STRATCOM, the US Strategic Command. We talked there about where we should go for the 2009 meeting and we had some discussion with the representatives from South Korea. I think we were all really thrilled with the suggestion but weren’t sure whether it would be achievable. However some incredible work by a number of people and organisations showed that “Yes, we can!” (Where have I heard that before?) It has happened and we are so pleased to be here. Thank you all for your persistence, patience, foresight and hard work. It is of course only to be expected from people who are so active in campaigning! I hope it is not disrespectful to others if I mention just a few people whose important contributions have made this conference possible. Wooksik Cheong and Sung-Hee in particular have worked amazingly hard to make organise things and ensure that everything runs smoothly and we are in the right place at the right time – our grateful thanks to them. Jung-Eun Park has arranged for the GPPAC co-sponsor the conference and of course Mr. Lee Haeng-Woo was the person who first unofficially suggested to the Global Network that we should hold the conference in Seoul. Living in the US he is a long time Korean American activist with a lot of influence in the Korean and Korean American peace movements. And we must also thank one of the largest organizations in the Korean committee, the PSPD, for making the Korean committee meeting place available to us. 

Many of you here today may not be too sure about what we do in the Global Network. Well, we are what it says in the name – we are a truly global network of 155 local groups from the US, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia and of course Asia. Some of these are small local community groups, some are larger regional, national or even international organisations but they are all working for peaceful change and they all recognise the dangers of the growing militarization of space, the urgent need to reverse this and to keep space free from weapons and nuclear materials. Each year we call for a week of actions, demonstrations and education around the theme “Keep Space for Peace” and each year hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people around the world draw attention to the major problems associated with the warmongering of outer space by highlighting the bases, installations or weapons developers and builders that are close to their communities. We try to bring these actions together through our list-serve and through the website. We have been helped enormously with this in recent years by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom who have made this one of their priority issues.

We don’t get to meet everyone in the Global Network but events like this give us the opportunity of getting to know a few people around the world – to exchange information and share our concerns, our understanding and our knowledge and work together to prevent an arms race in outer space. It is so obvious to the vast majority of people on the planet that the huge sums of money spent on fighting wars and killing or planning to kill other human beings could be much better spent on helping those in need, providing proper health and education facilities for all of us and for repairing and protecting our planet from the damage that our greed and stupidity has caused.

So, this is a special time and a special place with a lot of special people. It now gives me great pleasure to introduce an extra special person – someone who has campaigned on this and other issues now for many years. He is an internationally renowned activist, an inspiration to the peace and human rights movement a great human being and a very good friend! To present his keynote speech on “Star Wars, Future Warfare and the Global Peace, the Co-ordinator of the Global Network, - Bruce Gagnon.

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