This is an extended excerpt from a recent article by long-time SGI member Michèle de Gastyne that appeared in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly. Her piece focuses on elements she found noteworthy in the 2017 Peace Proposal of the same title, published on January 26th, by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. De Gastyne’s thoughts are excerpted and condensed from a more comprehensive article on her blog. Unless otherwise indicated by a link, all quotations from Daisaku Ikeda are from his 2017 recommendations.
Essay, “on Nuclear Disarmament, Human Rights Education, SDGs and ‘Leaving No One Behind’,” by Michèle de Gastyne
Involve Youth in Global Programs
How many people feel there’s nothing ordinary citizens can do in the face of the 15,000+ nuclear arms that exist on our planet? If you fit into that large category, I’d like to share another way of viewing Humanity’s current situation. Without one trace of pessimism in his recommendations, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda asserts we must include youth at the forefront. He calls youth the “critical agents of change who embody hope” in finding and implementing international solutions, including the most intractable.
Many will be surprised to read that last statement. But the realization of its truth is already making its way within the U.N. system and hallways of governments. I hope after reading this piece, a few more people will be equally convinced there is a clear path forward for a safer world, which is also more just and harmonious.
Take this inspiring paragraph, for example: “It’s estimated there are currently 1.8 billion young people between the ages of ten and twenty-four living in our world today. If these young people, rather than resorting to conflict and violence, can come to uphold and protect the core values of human rights, I am positive that a path toward a “pluralist and inclusive society”–as articulated in the U.N. “Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training”–can be brought into being.”
Likewise, Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said:
‘[W]e have to make sure there’s space for young people everywhere to be part of this movement for sustainable development. . . young people want to work together with joy, they want to trust each other.’
Nabarro’s remarks came at “Youth Boosting the Promotion and the Implementation of SDGs,” an SGI co-sponsored UN event [SDGs or Sustainable Development Goals are a UN-developed set of 17 goals and 169 targets to sustain habitability of the World as development occurs].
For Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, End Deterrence and Empower Grass-Roots Involvement
There is a powerful case for “participative democracy” and transparency in this peace proposal. Ikeda encourages individuals and groups to publish statements indicating their commitment to a nuclear weapons-free world. Or to hold grass-roots events on the significance of a people-driven international treaty in the spirit of the Einstein-Russell Manifesto of 1955, which he quotes, “We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.“
Ikeda says the supposed deterrence of a nuclear umbrella is actually a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the head of humanity. He urges ordinary citizens to promote the idea through NGOs and Civil Society that nuclear conflicts must never be fought. He urges working hard to include participation of U.N. treaty negotiations for prohibiting the existence of nuclear weapons, reminding us that Japan has a particular responsibility. Never losing his optimism, he nonetheless warns that nuclear states would need strong encouragement from their citizens in order to move toward this goal because of vested interests.