Peace and Disarmament
SGI-New Zealand Cosponsors "Culture of Peace" Exhibition at University of Auckland
From August 13-21, 2007, the University of Auckland in New Zealand, hosted the SGI exhibition "Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World." SGI-New Zealand and the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA) Auckland Branch cosponsored the event and the United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ) and the University of Auckland School of Development Studies were supporters.
The exhibition is part of a citizen educational program in support of the UN's International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). Launched in August 2003, the Culture of Peace exhibition has traveled to various venues in the USA, including the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington D.C., as well as venues in Spain, Switzerland, Canada and India.
Some 200 guests attended the opening ceremony on August 13, including former UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul Chowdhury, Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard and University of Auckland Pro Vice-Chancellor Chris Tremewan.
In a commemorative lecture titled "Culture of Peace: Beacon of Hope for Our Time," Ambassador Chowdhury affirmed that humanity requires a "culture of peace" to overcome heinous acts caused by political decisions, military actions, economic disparities, religious intolerance and fear of the unknown. He emphasized that a collective approach is needed built on hope, dialogue and trust in which civil society and youth play leading roles. Ambassador Chowdhury concurred with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, who stated, "The path to peace has not been and will never be easy, but we must never give up." Mr. Chowdhury emphasized that peace studies should be taught in schools as one of the fundamentals, together with reading and writing. In conclusion, Mr. Chowdhury stated, "Peace cannot be imposed from the outside; it must emerge naturally from within. As Gandhi said, 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world.'"
Following Mayor Hubbard's congratulatory address, representative guests participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the exhibition. Among the comments from viewers, one said the exhibition's message is very clear and understandable to anyone, and another stated, "I have learned that education is key for transforming a culture of war to a culture of peace."[Adapted from an SGI-New Zealand report and an article in the August 27, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]