Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
Section one of ten of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2016 peace proposal, “Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace.”
January 26, 2016
This year marks the thirty-fifth year since the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) began activities in support of the United Nations as an accredited nongovernmental organization (NGO). Born of the searing experience of two world wars, the UN declared as its objective the building of a world free from the scourge of war, where human rights are respected and discrimination and oppression eliminated. This vision is deeply compatible with the core values of peace, equality and compassion that we, as Buddhists, uphold.
All people have the right to live in happiness. The prime objective of our movement is to forge an expanding solidarity of ordinary citizens committed to protecting that right and, in this way, to rid the world of needless suffering. Our activities in support of the UN are a natural and necessary expression of this.
Our world today is beset by crises that present a dire threat to the lives and dignity of vast numbers of people. There has been an explosion in the number of refugees and internally displaced persons around the world, especially in the Middle East where the Syrian conflict continues unabated. Globally, as many as 60 million people have now been driven from their homes by armed conflict and persecution. 
Further, a series of natural disasters has, in the course of less than a year, impacted the lives of more than 100 million people. Of these, almost 90 percent were climate-related disasters such as floods or violent storms, generating concern about the growing impact of global warming. 
Against this backdrop, the World Humanitarian Summit, the first such conference to be organized by the UN, will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in May. Consultations leading up to the summit have been marked by a growing sense of alarm at the unprecedented scale and extent of the humanitarian challenge. In addition to realizing an early cessation of armed hostilities, it is crucial to find a path to improving the conditions that confront so many people.
Humanitarian crises such as forced displacement due to conflict and natural disaster have long been an area of concern and engagement for the SGI. Our representatives will be participating in the Istanbul summit, where we hope to help further debate on the role of faith-based organizations (FBOs) in humanitarian relief efforts and on ways of building solidarity within civil society. related article The Deep Current of Humanity In our world today, there are people who greet the sudden appearance of refugees in their communities with a deep empathy for all that they have endured, who spontaneously extend the hand of support and welcome. For people who have been forced to flee their homes, each such act is an important source of encouragement, an irreplaceable lifeline.
The SGI began its activities as an NGO with consultative status with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in 1981 and was registered as an Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) NGO in 1983, the year I issued the first of these peace proposals. Since then, our activities have focused on the areas of peace and disarmament, humanitarian relief, human rights education and sustainable development.
Here, I would like to reflect on the fundamental elements of the approach we have taken in supporting the UN’s efforts and to offer some thoughts and perspectives on the role of civil society in grappling with global issues, including humanitarian crises.
1 See UNHCR, “UNHCR Mid-Year Trends 2015,” 3.
2 See IFRC, “New IFRC Report.”