by Daisaku Ikeda
President, Soka Gakkai International
On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), I would like to offer some thoughts on ways to generate greater solidarity among the people of the world for peace and humane values and for the elimination of needless suffering from the Earth.
The United Nations is working toward a new set of goals to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and, last July, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) released a proposal that expresses a commitment to inclusiveness, the determination to protect the dignity of all people without exception.
I would like to discuss three priority themes for promoting the achievement of these goals and, on a broader scale, accelerating efforts to eliminate misery from the face of the planet. This was the repeated desire of my mentor, Josei Toda, and remains the inspiration behind the activities of SGI members around the world.
The first is the “rehumanization of politics and economics” making their prime motivation the alleviation of the suffering of individuals. The most important driving force for this is the solidarity of ordinary citizens who have raised their voices based on an unyielding commitment to our collective future.
The second is what I call “a chain reaction of empowerment,” encapsulated in the idea that a great revolution of character in just a single individual can help achieve a change in the destiny of an entire society and make possible a change in the destiny of all humankind.
The third theme is the expansion of friendship across differences in order to build a world of coexistence. Expanding human solidarity based on a shared concern for the threats faced by all of us holds the key to the alleviation of human suffering. The one thing any of us can do at any time to contribute to building that solidarity is to generate a broader network of friendship through dialogue.
Frameworks for shared action
I believe there should be two prerequisites for the resolution of global problems at the heart of the creative evolution of the UN as it marks its seventieth anniversary this year: the participation of all states and the promotion of collaboration between the UN and civil society.
I would like to make specific proposals in the following three fields in which I think there is urgent need for shared action in order to eliminate the word misery from the human lexicon.
1) The first field for shared action is to protect the human rights of refugees, displaced persons and international migrants.
The source of the suffering of displaced persons is being cut off from a world in which they can fully experience and express their identity, and all the human rights associated with it.
Positioning the alleviation of the suffering of such people as a key objective of the creative evolution of the UN is necessary if the inclusiveness sought for the new SDGs is to be realized.
Likewise, the human rights situation of the world’s 232 million international migrants demands urgent attention. I would like to propose that the goal of protecting the dignity and basic human rights of migrant workers and their families be explicitly included in the SDGs.
I further propose the development of mechanisms by which neighboring countries can work together for the empowerment of displaced persons. Specifically, I would like to propose regional joint empowerment programs by which educational and employment assistance projects include both the refugee population and the youth and women of the host country.
2) The second field for shared action I would like to consider is toward the realization of a world without nuclear weapons.
By signing the Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons in October 2014, more than 80 percent of the member states of the United Nations have clearly expressed their shared desire that nuclear weapons never be used under any circumstances.
The inhumane nature of nuclear weapons is evidenced from a variety of perspectives above and beyond their sheer destructive potential. First, their capacity for annihilation instantly negates all the achievements of civilization and strips all existence of meaning. Second, continued nuclear weapons development and modernization generates dire socioeconomic distortions. Third, the maintenance of a nuclear posture locks countries into continuous military tension.
Here, I would like to propose the following two initiatives.
- A new institutional framework for nuclear disarmament, based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
I urge the participants at the 2015 NPT Review Conference to debate options for the elaboration of the “effective measures” for nuclear disarmament required by Article VI of the NPT. Given this context, I hope that as many heads of government as possible will attend the Review Conference.
I further urge that the Review Conference establish a new institutional framework to promote the fulfillment of Article VI obligations. Building upon “the unequivocal undertaking of the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament,” reaffirmed at the 2000 Review Conference, I propose the establishment of an NPT disarmament commission as a subsidiary organ to the NPT to ensure the prompt and concrete fulfillment of this commitment.
- The adoption of a nuclear weapons convention.
Based on a careful evaluation of the outcome of this year’s NPT Review Conference, I suggest that the high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament that the UN has called for be held in 2016 and begin the process of drafting a nuclear weapons convention.
The process I envisage for the establishment of a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons is one in which each country commits itself to a self-imposed veto. Together, these acts of self-restraint will form an overlapping fabric that brings into being a new era, one in which the people of all countries can enjoy the certainty that they will never suffer the horrors wrought by the use of nuclear weapons.
I hope that the planned World Youth Summit for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons—to be held in Hiroshima in September as a joint initiative by the SGI and other NGOs—will adopt a youth declaration pledging to end the nuclear age and that it will help foster a greater solidarity among the world’s youth in support of a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
3) The last field for shared action I would like to address is the construction of a sustainable global society.
In order to respond to environmental challenges such as climate change, we must share experiences and lessons learned as we work to prevent a worsening of conditions and effect the transition toward a zero-waste society. Such efforts will be crucial in the achievement of the SDGs, and I would like to stress the indispensable role of cooperation among neighboring countries to this end.
Concretely, I call on China, South Korea and Japan to join together to create a regional model that will embody best practices that can be shared with the world. To encourage such cooperation, it is important that trilateral China-Korea-Japan summits be restarted. Further, I hope the leaders of the three countries will mark the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II by embodying the lessons of that conflict in a pledge never to go to war again.
Toward expanding grassroots exchanges, I would like to see the establishment of a China-Korea-Japan youth partnership through which young people can actively collaborate on efforts to realize the SDGs or other trilateral initiatives. Along similar lines, I propose that the number of sister-city exchanges between the three countries be greatly increased.
I wish to emphasize that it is the solidarity of ordinary people that, more than any other force, will propel humankind in our efforts to meet the challenges that face us.