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On February 20, A Forum for Peace: Daisaku Ikeda’s Proposals to the UN, a collection of key excerpts from 30 years of peace proposals by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, was launched in a high profile event held at the UN Headquarters in New York.
A Forum for Peace brings together for the first time excerpts from Mr. Ikeda’s annual peace proposals, issued every year since 1983 on January 26 to commemorate the founding of the SGI. Recommendations for global change in areas such as human security, women’s empowerment, nuclear disarmament and the centrality of dialogue, are informed by his firm belief in the positive potential of the UN, his experience of the cruelty of war and Buddhist philosophy.
Experts from the fields of education, disarmament and diplomacy joined the book launch and ensuing panel discussion on “Global Citizenship and the Future of the UN” chaired by former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, who contributed the Foreword to the book.
At the launch, Ambassador Chowdhury stated, “No human being in world history has written so consistently, so substantively about the work of the United Nations and the way to reform it as SGI President Ikeda.” Many of Mr. Ikeda’s proposals over the years have subsequently been reflected in the work of the United Nations, he added.
Sponsor of the event was the Alliance of Civilizations, a United Nations initiative to build bridges across religious, cultural and other divides, and organizers were SGI, Inter Press Service and the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.
In his opening address, Alliance of Civilizations High Representative H.E. Nassir Adulaziz Al-Nasser spoke of the values of global citizenship emphasized in the book as being vital to the mission of the UN.
John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly, sent a message through his Chef de Cabinet, Ambassador Paulette Bethel, saying that building a peaceful world is a monumental task that cannot rest in the hands of the UN alone, underscoring the key role of civil society.
related article Fulfilling the Mission: Empowering the UN to Live Up to the World’s Expectations (August 30, 2006) by Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International In his United Nations proposal suggesting areas of reform, SGI President Ikeda stresses that the UN is the most universal forum, upholds Dag Hammarskjold's commitment to dialogue, and also urges that countries consider supporting UNESCO's Education for All campaign. Tariq Hassan, Chair of the Board of SGI-USA, read excerpts from SGI President Ikeda’s message to the event. Mr. Ikeda noted that in his annual peace proposals he stresses the importance of fostering an awareness of our role and responsibility as global citizens, to counter the impulse toward conflict and division. “Building solidarity of global citizens is the source of hope for the future of the United Nations,” he said.
Dr. Olivier Urbain, editor of A Forum for Peace and Director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, introduced the book and its four main chapters: A UN Living up to its Mission; A UN to Eliminate Misery from the Earth, A UN for a World Without War; and Empowerment for Future Change.
As editor, he said he was surprised to find after working on the book that he gained “a tremendous sense of hope” that “as long as we have a space for personal creativity and solidarity there is nothing that human beings cannot overcome.”
In her keynote address, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams praised Mr. Ikeda’s consistent emphasis on the power of women. The United Nations, she also said, while not perfect, is “all that we have in our world to try and make it better.”
Other speakers included William Gaudelli, Associate Professor of Social Studies and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Monte Joffee, Founding Principal of the Renaissance Charter School in New York’s Jackson Heights.
A Forum for Peace: Daisaku Ikeda’s Proposals to the UN is published by I.B. Tauris. For the complete texts of the last 15 years of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s proposals, see here.
[Adapted from a report from the SGI Office of Public Information; Photos courtesy of UNAOC/Aaron Fineman and SGI-OPI]
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