Experts Say

Comment on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's 2011 Peace Proposal

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May 1, 2011
By Frederik Willem de Klerk

It is a great honour for me to be able to comment on the annual Peace Proposal of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda – whom I first had the pleasure of meeting in 1992. Since then he – and Soka Gakkai International – have continued to make a constructive contribution to the promotion of world peace – most recently by means of President Ikeda's latest proposals relating to the abolition of nuclear weapons and the promotion of human rights education.

I strongly support President Ikeda's call for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. As I said at the Hiroshima Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in November last year we all agree that nuclear weapons are a malignant tumor that must be excised from the consciousness of man. The question is not about the need for the removal of the tumor – but how the operation can best be performed.

The main challenge is to persuade nuclear weapons states to undergo the operation. Why? Because many of them still believe that their national security, their national prestige – and in some cases their continued existence – may be threatened if they do not possess such weapons.

The unhappy reality is that the existing nuclear weapons states and threshold states will continue to ignore the most impelling and urgent pleas to undergo the nuclear tumor removal operation – even though most of them will all continue to give pious lip service to the need for nuclear disarmament.

As I said in Hiroshima last November, if we want to persuade nuclear weapons states to abolish their nuclear arsenals we will have to address their real or imagined concerns:

  • ? Let's start by limiting the spread of the tumor by demanding full, accelerated and visible implementation of all existing nuclear weapons treaties and conventions, leading ultimately to the negotiation and adoption of a comprehensive treaty for the universal prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
  • ? Let us assure patients that the operation will not expose them to threats to their existence. To do this the international community will have to take effective steps to address threats to peace in regions that include nuclear weapons states such as the Middle East, South Asia and North Eastern Asia.
  • ? We will need to address the potentially uncontrollable malignancy of nuclear terrorism by rigorously implementing the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
  • ? Some patients might be more conducive to treatment than others. We should consider targeting individual nuclear weapons states one, by one, to pressure them to abandon nuclear weapons – starting with massive campaigns to persuade Britain and France to abandon their capabilities.
  • ? We should continue to warn mankind of the threats involved by means of massive publicity on the devastation that nuclear weapons can cause to the future of mankind and to the environment – as well as the unacceptable financial cost of nuclear weapons.

We, in South Africa, are one of the very few countries that has voluntarily abolished an existing nuclear capability. I believe that we, in our own small way, have helped to demonstrate that long-term security can be far better assured by the abrogation of nuclear weapons than by their retention. The core of the threat that confronted us before 1989 did not lie in military weakness, but in the escalating conflict between South Africans from our different communities. The solution to the problem was not the acquisition of greater military power but in reaching agreement on the fundamental issues that divided us and by assuring the rights of all our citizens.

At the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Hiroshima last November I also stressed the importance of promoting genuine constitutional democracy throughout the world as one of the best ways of creating a climate that would be conducive for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The simple reality is that there is no instance of one genuine democracy ever going to war against another.

An important way of achieving this goal would be a massive campaign to promote human rights education throughout the world. We need to create a culture of respect for fundamental human rights and we need to empower ordinary citizens and civil society organisations to claim their rights. I should accordingly like to congratulate President Ikeda on his initiative in this regard. The F W de Klerk Foundation is currently in the process of planning an extensive human rights education programme in South Africa and would be very interested in co-operating with SGI's initiative.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest sympathy and solidarity with the people of Japan in the wake of the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami. In our globalising world we are all, increasingly, affected by the crises, problems and successes of our fellow human beings throughout the world. In the coming decades we will need to work together much more closely in our efforts to solve the problems that confront and to build a better life for all.

A video clip of his lecture on Nov. 13, 2010 at the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Ikeda Peace Memorial Hall.

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