Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach

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Section one of nine of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2019 peace proposal, “Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach.”

January 26, 2019

The Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, February 28, 2018 [Photo by U.S. Mission Photo/Eric Bridiers/CC BY-ND]

Amid the continued escalation of global challenges, crises that were previously unthinkable are now becoming reality throughout the world.

With the average global temperature at its highest on record in the past four years and the impact of extreme weather conditions being felt everywhere, the problem of climate change is especially alarming. The refugee crisis also remains a deep concern, with the number of individuals forcibly displaced worldwide due to conflict and other reasons now at 68.5 million. Trade disputes are also casting a heavy shadow over society. During the general debate at last year’s United Nations General Assembly, many world leaders voiced their concerns over recent trade developments and their impact on the global economy. In addition to these challenges, the UN has been calling for urgent action on issues related to disarmament.

Last May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the UN Disarmament Agenda as a comprehensive report on this issue. He cited the fact that annual global military expenditure had surpassed US$1.7 trillion, the highest level since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and warned: “When each country pursues its own security without regard for others, we create global insecurity that threatens us all.” Noting that total military spending was around eighty times the amount required to meet the humanitarian aid needs of the whole world, he expressed deep concern over this increasing gap in resource allocation and the fact that necessary funds were not being directed toward ending poverty, promoting health and education, combating climate change and other measures to protect the planet. If current trends continue, progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aimed at ensuring that no one is left behind, is at risk of coming to a standstill.

related article A Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly A Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Ikeda proposes measures to promote progress on nuclear disarmament, including a fourth special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament. Disarmament, which has been a major focus of the UN since its founding, has been an issue of personal concern and a central theme of the peace proposals I have composed annually for more than thirty-five years. As a member of the generation that experienced firsthand the atrocities of World War II and as heir to the spirit of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda (1900–58)—who took persistent action based on his commitment to rid the world of misery—I am acutely aware that disarmament is vitally essential to the task of uprooting conflict and violence, which threaten the dignity and lives of so many.

Humanity possesses the power of solidarity, a strength with which we can overcome any adversity. Indeed, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)—an undertaking whose achievement was long considered impossible—was adopted two years ago, through the power of such solidarity, and movement is progressing toward ratification and entry into force.

The darker the night, the closer the dawn: now is the time to accelerate momentum toward disarmament by taking the present crises as an opportunity to create a new history. To this end, I would like to propose three key themes that could serve as a kind of scaffolding in the effort to make disarmament a cornerstone of the world in the twenty-first century: sharing a vision of a peaceful society, promoting a people-centered multilateralism and mainstreaming youth participation.

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