Peace and Disarmament
SGI-USA Opens Fourth Culture of Peace Resource Center in Chicago, Illinois
On February 2, 2008, some 700 SGI members and guests gathered to celebrate the opening of the Chicago Culture of Peace Resource Center located in the SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center. Previously, SGI-USA opened similar centers in New York (2004), Los Angeles (2004) and Hawaii (2007). The purpose of the centers is to host community-based education and cultural programs that foster a culture that rejects violence and encourages active dialogue to address the root causes of conflict.
Last year the New York and Los Angeles centers commenced a "Culture of Peace Distinguished Speakers Series" with lecturers focusing on one or more of the eight action areas defined by the 1999 United Nations Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace.
[The eight action areas as defined by the 1999 UN Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace are: 1) fostering a culture of peace through education; 2) promoting sustainable economic and social development; 3) promoting respect for all human rights; 4) ensuring equality between women and men; 5) fostering democratic participation; 6) advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity; 7) supporting participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge; 8) promoting international peace and security.]
The speaker series, open to the public, has drawn lecturers such as 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Betty Williams and Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, and author of bestseller The End of Poverty.
In Chicago, the event drew roughly 40 public officials, including Mayor Rodney Craig of Hanover Park (a suburb northwest of Chicago); representatives of community organizations involved in peacebuilding; and scholars from various academic institutions, including DePaul University, Morton College and The University of Chicago.
Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, who last year completed his five year term as under-secretary-general for the United Nations, served as the event's keynote speaker. The Bangladeshi diplomat is best known for his role in helping to develop the poorest nations and for enhancing the role of women and children in building a peaceful society.
During his lecture, Ambassador Chowdhury stated that the human mind is capable of breeding intolerance, harboring hatred and inflicting pain on fellow human beings. The challenges of the new millennium, he said, include instilling the "values of nonviolence, tolerance and democracy" in every woman, man and child.
Ambassador Chowdhury referred to SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's 2008 Peace Proposal to the United Nations as presenting a key component to building a culture of peace: dialogue between individuals and among religions and cultures. "Dialogue is the foundation of a peaceful, humanistic society," Ambassador Chowdhury said. "The best dialogue is articulated and supported and encouraged by promoting a culture of peace."
[Adapted from an article by Liz Nobukuni in the February 15, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Dan Defensor]