At the United Nations

F-Ven.Lee 2012Chung is the Co-President of Religions for Peace, the largest international interfaith organization, a position she has held since 1999.  She has represented Won Buddhism at the United Nations (UN) since 1992. She has held several important UN committee positions:

Founding Co-Chair of Values Caucus at the UN (1994-1995)

Convener of Universal Ethics Millennium Conference at the UN(2000)

Chair of World Culture Open Conference at the UN (2004)

Convener of International Conference on Creative Economy in Rwanda (2006)

Co-Convener of the conference on Advancing Cooperation between the United Nations and World’s Religions at the UN (2008)

Convener of the G20 Moral Politics International Conference in South Korea (2010)

Chung has worked with UNESCO, UNDP, UNEP, UNIFEM, UNHCHR, UNFPA, UN DPI, UNDESA, CSW, ILO, and UN Alliance of Civilizations.  She has actively worked to promote women’s equity, human rights, religious freedom, and environmental integrity at the UN by focusing upon ethical, moral and spiritual values.  Chung Lee is inspired by the vision of Won Buddhism and its commonalities with the spiritual and ethical base of the Charter of the United Nations.

Motivation to Become an Agent of Change

During her first few years in the United States, Chung encountered racism and religious discrimination as she oversaw the building of a Won Buddhist Retreat center at Pocono Mountain in Pennsylvania. In 1983, local people tried to seek a court injunction to stop its construction.  This was a painful reminder of the entrenched gender discrimination she faced while growing in a small farm village in Korea. Chung was motivated to become an agent of change. She realized that teaching at a local temple, whether in Korea or the United States, would not position her to change the minds of critical mass about ending discrimination. These personal experiences provoked her to begin interfaith work and motivated her to participate in the work of the United Nations to advocate global policy to benefit for all. 

Experiencing religious discrimination and seeing firsthand how religion plays a role, the causing conflict in human society, Chung began participating in international interfaith movement in 1986 in order to reduce religious intolerance. In 1991, she organized the first Dialogue among Religions, Cultures and Civilization in Korea with sixty religious leaders from all over the world.  In 1992, she organized the first International Interfaith Retreat in Korea. She has been actively engaged in interfaith dialogue throughout the world and established the Won Buddhism Interreligious office in New York in 1992.

Chung served as International Co-president of Parliament of World’s Religions in 1993 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and addressed at the closing ceremony with him in Chicago. She was selected to attend interfaith dialogue with the Dalai Lama in Washington D.C. in 1998. More recently, Chung addressed at the closing ceremony with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Global Buddhist Congregations in New Delhi in 2011.

With the support from various international organizations and the government of Korea Chung organized the G20 Universal Ethics Summit, G20 Women Leaders Summit, G20 Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Religions and G20 International Interfaith Retreat in Korea in November 2010. Sixty international dignitaries representing the fields of law, the arts, business, religion and academia attended. Chung is gratified to have connected a network of like-minded people who deeply care for humanity.

Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee at the UN, World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebration, 2012