Peace and Disarmament
Toda Institute Celebrates Tenth Anniversary with Conference on UN Reforms
On February 11, 2006, the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, a Soka Gakkai-affiliated peace organization, celebrates its 10th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, the Toda Institute hosted an international conference February 4-5, in Los Angeles, USA, with a theme of "Transforming the United Nations: Human Development, Regional Conflicts and Global Governance in a Post-Westphalian World." Some 30 eminent university professors, researchers and representatives of UN and nongovernmental organizations attended, including UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury.
At the opening session, Toda Institute Director Majid Tehranian introduced a message from founder Daisaku Ikeda and reviewed the institute's steps to peace during these ten years. Keynote speakers were: Stephen J. Stedman, senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University; and Richard Falk, professor emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University.
Referring to his experience as research director for the UN's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, whose task was to imagine what a new vision of collective security would look like, Dr. Stedman emphasized that today threats to people today vary, depending on their circumstances and where they live. He stated that, to respond effectively to the diverse threats, the UN is required to consider three lodestars for evaluation--effectiveness, efficiency and equity, and the latter is crucial if the UN is to be renewed and reformed. Dr. Folk stated that an adequate program of UN reform needs to reflect the rise of civil society actors, market forces and regional institutions. He stressed the importance of incorporating into the UN System a Global People's Parliament, which would allow people and NGOs to set global policy agendas, and make the UN serve the well-being of the world's people at desirable levels.
Dr. Chowdhury expressed his belief that one of the UN's most crucial tasks is to make a positive impact on the lives of the people of the world, particularly those who are the weakest and the most vulnerable. In that context, development should be the core of the UN's task and the UN should turn itself into truly a people's organization. He also said that it is the youth who can lead the way to laying the foundation for a world with humanity's best interest at the center of all our endeavors.
The conference was concluded with words of Kevin Clements, professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia, and Dr. Tehranian. The conference deliberations will be compiled and published.