SGI’s partnership with 2017 Nobel Peace Prize recipient ICAN toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
“This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror. The specter of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now.”
So declared the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in its Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on Oct. 6.
ICAN, which was founded in 2007, is a global civil society coalition comprising grass-roots partner organizations in 100 countries, including the SGI. Its headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland.
In recognition of their efforts to lobby governments, raise awareness among ordinary citizens and collaborate with hibakusha [atomic bomb survivors], who have shared their searing testimonies, ICAN received the Nobel Peace Prize “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”
ICAN campaigned for the historic international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, playing a vital role at the negotiation conference. The treaty, which will prohibit the possession, development, testing, use and threat of use of nuclear arms, was adopted by 122 nations on July 7 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York.
SGI President Ikeda, in a congratulatory message to ICAN, said that its receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize was a cause for “unmatched joy,” serving as a source of profound encouragement to everyone working for nuclear disarmament, in particular the hibakusha and members of global civil society.
President Ikeda continued: “The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and today’s award mark the opening of a new phase in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons, a rising tide of energy and commitment.”
Since ICAN’s inception 10 years ago, the SGI has worked as one of its indispensable partners toward a world free of nuclear weapons. During negotiations, for instance, SGI representatives put forth proposals that were reflected in the treaty, including reference to disarmament education.
“SGI has been one of our greatest partners in this fight,” said ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn at the time of the treaty’s adoption. “Faithbased perspectives are extremely important because there is a moral reason to why we are doing this.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee in its press release emphasized that the next steps toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states. “This year’s Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world,” the committee said.
The SGI’s legacy and mission to abolish nuclear weapons.
The SGI’s nuclear abolition efforts trace their roots back to Sept. 8, 1957, when second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda called for the abolition of nuclear weapons before 50,000 youth at Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama, Japan. He ultimately bestowed upon the youth of the Soka Gakkai the mission to make respect for the dignity of life the spirit of the age.
Next year’s 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival was originally inspired by the events of Sept. 8, 1957. Sharing the vision and responsibility of their mentor, President Ikeda, to create a peaceful world, 50,000 youth across America will gather next fall to take a stand for the dignity of life.
Since 1983, President Ikeda has submitted proposals to the United Nations, including his annual peace proposals exploring the interrelation between core Buddhist concepts and the diverse challenges global society faces in an effort to realize peace and human security, often emphasizing a sense of urgency toward nuclear disarmament.
Now, at age 89, President Ikeda continues to steadfastly advance this work. “Today, many people have given up on the possibility of nuclear abolition,” he writes. “But peace is always a competition between resignation and hope” (Sept. 8, 2017, World Tribune, p. 11)