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Peace and Disarmament

Back to listSep 11, 2009

SGI Delegation Attends United Nations NGO Conference in Mexico City, Mexico


090911x_mexico_exhibit3.jpg Participants of the opening ceremony

From September 9-11, 2009, an SGI delegation led by Hirotsugu Terasaki, Executive Director for Peace Affairs, attended the 62nd annual conference for NGOs associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) in Mexico City, Mexico. This was only the second time in the history of this conference, which brings together nongovernmental organizations from throughout the world, to be held outside the UN Headquarters in New York. Holding the event in Mexico City was particularly important as it facilitated the participation not only of Mexican civil society, but also NGOs from throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region.

090911x_mexico_exhibit4.jpg

The opening ceremony featured speeches by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams. Ms. Williams, who gained renown for helping to build the international campaign that culminated in the treaty banning landmines adopted in 1999, urged participants to work with even greater focus and energy for the realization of a world without nuclear weapons.

On September 10, an opening reception for the SGI-organized exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" was held at the Mexican Senate. The reception was attended by the President of the Mexican Senate, Carlos Navarrete Ruíz, Senator María Elena Orantes López, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte, Charles Hitchcock, chair of the 62nd Annual DPI/NGO Conference, as well as numerous representatives of the NGO and diplomatic communities. In his welcoming remarks, Senate President Navarette described the power of the images in the exhibition, such as photographs of children holding automatic weapons, to move people's hearts.

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He also noted the connection, stressed in the exhibition, between human security—eliminating extreme poverty, promoting universal education, assuring sustainable development—and nuclear abolition. Under-Secretary-General Akasaka noted that, "The work of the Soka Gakkai underscores the enormous influence the voice of the people can have on what might otherwise be regarded as matters of state," and welcomed the proposal by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, "Building Global Solidarity Toward Nuclear Abolition," which was issued on September 8 and circulated at the DPI/NGO conference.

090911x_mexico_Mr.sakurai.jpg SGI's representative to the United Nations, Hiro Sakurai, giving a speech

On the final day of the conference, SGI's representative to the United Nations in New York, Hiro Sakurai, was one of the speakers at the plenary roundtable held at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Noting that this was the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Sakurai described how those events had forced him personally to rethink the meaning of security. He also related experiences of young people who had participated in activities in support of the SGI's People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition and how the dialogues engaged in with their peers had had a transformative impact on their consciousness. In the afternoon, SGI and Mayors for Peace jointly sponsored the workshop "International Decade for Disarmament: How NGOs Can Make It a Success with a Focus on Human Security and Nuclear Disarmament."


[Adapted from a report from the SGI Office of Public Information, Japan; photos courtesy of SGI Office of Public Information]