NEW YORK, May 19— In his September 2009 Nuclear Disarmament Proposal, SGI President IkedaIMG_7691 urged the youth of the world to assume the mantle of this crucial issue, declaring: “It is the passion of youth that spreads the flames of courage throughout society.”

It was with this spirit that SGI-USA youth representatives visited the U.N. Headquarters in New York on May 19 to present petitions signed by more than 8,500 youth calling to abolish nuclear weapons. They met with Virginia Gamba, the Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs.

These signatures, presented during the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, were collected at the SGI-USA March Youth Peace Expos, held at 25 locations around the country. The petitions were signed by youth representing nearly every segment of American society and from all corners of the country.

During the presentation, Ms. Gamba said she was encouraged to learn that over 12,000 people, most of whom were youth, gathered at these peace expos to speak out for the cause of nuclear weapons abolition at a time when the world is desperately looking for youth leadership on this issue.

Ms. Gamba also recognized President Ikeda’s longstanding leadership on nuclear disarmament and was moved to see SGI-USA youth continuing his efforts. “I want the youth who signed the petition to know that their voices are being heard,” Ms. Gamba said.

Echoing President Ikeda’s 2009 proposal, the petition stated: “We believe that popular opinion will be the foundation of an international norm for the abolition of nuclear weapons as emphasized by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in his proposals to the United Nations. We, the youth of America, pledge our commitment to expand the network of young people in support of a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, as a step toward ridding the world of such weapons by the year 2030.”

This effort is part of the SGI’s larger global peace initiative called Soka Global Action. In 2013, Soka Gakkai youth representatives presented United Nations officials with the signatures of 5 million youth from Japan calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In the U.S, the SGI-USA student division has spearheaded the youth’s efforts since 2011, when it introduced its “Our New Clear Future” campaign to turn the tide of public opinion in favor of abolishing nuclear weapons.

“These 8,500 signatures represent the SGI-USA youth taking full responsibility for ridding the world of these weapons,” said SGI-USA Youth Leader David Witkowski. “This is just the beginning.”