NEW YORK: On February 20, 2014, A Forum for Peace: Daisaku Ikeda’s Proposals to the UN, a unique collection of 30 years of peace proposals by the president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Buddhist association, was launched in a high profile event held at the UN Headquarters.
Daisaku Ikeda has been issuing annual peace proposals since 1983. In A Forum for Peace, key excerpts of the proposals and his recommendations for global change are published in one volume for the first time.
Experts from the fields of education, disarmament and diplomacy offered their views on “Global Citizenship and the Future of the UN” in a book launch event and panel discussion chaired by former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, who contributed the Foreword to the book.
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 Ikeda’s proposals over the years had subsequently been reflected in the work of the United Nations, he added.
Sponsor of the launch was the Alliance of Civilizations, a United Nations initiative to build bridges across religious, cultural and other divides. Its High Representative Nassir Adulaziz Al-Nasser commended the book, stating: “It is through the celebration of our diversity as well as through the promotion of tolerance and dispelling fears of the ‘other’ that we will build a more peaceful world.”
John Ashe, President of the United Nations General Assembly, sent a message through his Chef de Cabinet, Ambassador Paulette Bethel, saying that global citizens have an important role to play in addressing the many challenges facing the United Nations.
Tariq Hassan, Chair of the Board of SGI-USA, read excerpts from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s message to the event. Ikeda noted that in his 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. He suggested key elements that could form the basis of an educational program for global citizenship.
Olivier Urbain, editor of A Forum for Peace and Director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, introduced the book. A constant theme, he said, was “a firm belief in the power of ordinary people and trust in the potential of solidarity.” He introduced the 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.
In her keynote address, Nobel Laureate Betty Williams stated, “We could sit all day here and glorify working for peace but it’s not a thing that should be glorified; it is a thing that should be done every single day of our lives.” The United Nations, while not perfect, was all the world had, she said, to respond. Ms. Williams praised Ikeda’s consistent emphasis on the power of women.
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.
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 http://www.sgi.org/sgi-president/proposals/.