Opening of the Exhibition, UN Office of Geneva

April 30, 2008

His Excellency Ambassador Volodymyr Yel'chenko, Chair of the second session of the Preparatory Committee of the NPT,
His Excellency Mr. Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs,
Ms. Susi Snyder, President of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Geneva,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, representatives of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the UN Institute for Disarmament Research and all those whose support and cooperation have made the holding of this exhibition possible.

It is truly an honour to be able to hold the exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" in the Palais des Nations in Geneva, this beautiful city of peace. On behalf of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) members in 192 countries and territories, I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for this opportunity.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has stressed that, without new international efforts, between twenty and thirty more nations could emerge with "the capacity to develop nuclear weapons in a very short span of time." His statement underlines the critical challenge we face today—how not only to maintain but to strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) regime.

Amidst the complex crosscurrents of debate surrounding the three pillars of the NPT—non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use—the representatives of the governments participating in this PrepCom are engaged in the patient, earnest and painstaking work of building consensus toward the 2010 Review Conference. I wish to express my deepest respect for your courageous and invaluable efforts in this extraordinarily challenging undertaking.

In searching for a path out of the current impasse, I feel it is vital that we return to the original animating spirit of the NPT expressed in the preamble: "Considering the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples…." It is crucial that the world's governments renew their commitment to the security of peoples—all the inhabitants of Earth—and share a deepened commitment to prevent the further spread of these weapons and work for their abolition. In this sense, I earnestly hope that the 2010 NPT Review Conference will mark a major advance in the quest for modes of security that are not reliant on nuclear weapons.

The late Dr. Josef Rotblat was, for more than half a century, a leading voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In the dialogue we published on realizing a world free of nuclear weapons, he suggested that what is required first and foremost is to continue the expansion of our allegiances—from those limited to one's own family, to those which extend to the state, to the most encompassing circle of "loyalty to and a sense of identity with all of humankind."

One of the key objectives of this exhibition is to carry forward and develop the new paradigms of peace advocated by such pioneering figures as Dr. Rotblat, people who dedicated their lives to building a world without war. It seeks to awaken, in contemporary parlance, a far-reaching awareness of the need for a culture of peace founded on a commitment to human security.

The SGI's activities are based on the conviction that a change in the inner lives of individual human beings must be at the heart of building a culture of peace. And we are convinced that open-minded dialogue, however inconspicuous the initial results, is the best and most effective catalyst for such change. Thus the title: "Transforming the Human Spirit."

Dialogue inspires and strengthens human qualities essential to developing and sustaining a culture of peace: the spirit of empathy to embrace the pain and sufferings of others; the spirit of solidarity to work alongside those with whom we share our brief time on Earth and to strive with them toward the resolution of shared challenges; and the spirit of responsibility to forge a path toward a global society of peaceful coexistence which can be bequeathed to future generations.

The situation in the world today may give rise to a sense of despair regarding the prospects for nuclear abolition. It was for this reason that the SGI initiated a new international campaign last year as we marked the fiftieth anniversary of the declaration made by Soka Gakkai Second President Josei Toda in 1957 denouncing nuclear weapons as an absolute evil. This exhibition, currently slated to be held in thirty countries and at least eight different languages, is one element in this campaign to generate a civil society groundswell for nuclear abolition.

In the face of an increasingly grave threat of nuclear proliferation and the continuing stalemate in disarmament efforts, the participants in this PrepCom are taking committed action to find a path forward; you do so as an expression of loyalty to all of humankind. Inspired by your example and working alongside our respected friends in the governmental and nongovernmental communities, we of the SGI are determined to continue to strive tirelessly for the realization of a world without war, a world free from the dark threat of nuclear weapons.

In closing, allow me to reiterate this expression of my deepest respect and prayers for the health and well-being of all those in attendance today, and for the flourishing of your respective countries and organizations.

Daisaku Ikeda
Soka Gakkai International

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