Peace and Disarmament

Back to listMay 9, 2008

Exhibition on Nuclear Abolition and Human Security Opens at Geneva UN Headquarters

Chairperson of the second session Ambassador Yel'chenko of Ukraine speaking at the opening

"From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit," an exhibition created by the SGI that examines the nuclear weapons issue through the lens of human security, officially opened April 30, 2008, and showed through May 9 at the UN Office in Geneva. Held in conjunction with the second session of the Preparatory Committee of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the opening was attended by numerous diplomats and nuclear disarmament activists. Ambassador Volodymyr Yel'chenko of Ukraine who served as the chair of the second session, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio de Queiroz Duarte and Susi Snyder, president of the Geneva NGO Committee on Disarmament, spoke at the opening.

Despite the end of the Cold War almost 20 years ago, the spread of nuclear weapons technology has increased the threat of their possible use. The exhibition's 36 panels highlight the grim realities of nuclear weapons, the pitfalls of a militarized way of thinking and the human needs that could be met by reducing spending on weapons.

Ambassador Yel'chenko commented, "This exhibition is good proof of what NGOs can do to promote the NPT principles."

Visitors at the exhibition

In a message, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda stressed the importance of dialogue at all levels, which inspires and strengthens human qualities such as empathy, solidarity and responsibility that are essential to developing and sustaining a lasting culture of peace.

In his remarks, Mr. Duarte paid tribute to the SGI's "unfailing" commitment to nuclear disarmament, remarking that the SGI's work "has helped to inspire younger generations to understand the importance of progress in disarmament, especially in eliminating nuclear weapons, the deadliest of all weapons of mass destruction." Affirming that disarmament is a fundamental human security goal and its failure would jeopardize life on Earth, Mr. Duarte introduced various multilateral instruments that support this idea. He said human security pervades the entire UN Charter, which twice mentions "disarmament" as an important means to achieve the goal of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

"From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" was created by the SGI in 2007 as a tool to help raise people's awareness towards nuclear abolition, commemorating the 50th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda's declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons made on September 8, 1957. Available in eight languages, the exhibition has been shown at various venues in the USA, Malaysia, and Canada and at New Zealand's parliament building, and is slated to tour 30 countries. This showing was the first in Europe.

Soka Gakkai Vice President Hirotsugu Terasaki commented, "Nuclear disarmament is the ultimate human security challenge. It is vital to inspire people, especially youth, to engage in the work of ridding the world of these abhorrent weapons. We hope to help generate a groundswell toward nuclear abolition."

[Adapted from an SGI Office of Public Information press release and an article in the May 8, 2008 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of SGI Office of Public Information]