Toward Humanitarian Competition: A New Current in History
Peace Proposal 2009

Excerpt: "Shared efforts for nuclear abolition"

The third pillar I would like to discuss is the creation of international frameworks that facilitate the sharing of efforts for peace toward the abolition of nuclear arms.

I would first like to urge the U.S. and Russia, which between them account for 95 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal, to immediately resume bilateral talks on nuclear disarmament.

We must always bear in mind the fact that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) does not give the five nuclear-weapon states the right to retain their "special" status indefinitely.

Regarding the significance of Article VI of the NPT, which sets out the obligation for good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament, I would like to quote remarks made last year by Judge Mohammed Bedjaoui, who served as the presiding judge on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) when the court issued its advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons in 1996.

Good faith is a fundamental principle of international law, without which all international law would collapse.1

Good faith requires each state party to take, individually and in concert with every other state, whether or not party to the NPT, all positive measures likely to bring the international community closer to the purpose of the NPT, nuclear disarmament.2

The credibility of the NPT depends ultimately on the good faith actions of the nuclear-weapon states. And thus, to use the words of Judge Bedjaoui, "A manifestly unjustified breaking off of negotiations is radically incompatible with good faith."3

For two consecutive years, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and other prominent U.S. political figures have been calling for a world free of nuclear weapons, and there has been increasingly active discussion within the nuclear-weapon states themselves regarding nuclear disarmament.

During his presidential campaign last year, then-Senator Obama stated: "[W]e need to work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert; to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material…."4

As for Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev has stressed the "exceptional importance"5 his government places on concluding a new, legally binding Russian-American agreement to replace the START 1 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) that expires in December 2009. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also expressed his support for nuclear disarmament by stating: "We should close this Pandora’s Box."6

We cannot afford to waste this momentum. I call for the prompt holding of a U.S.-Russia summit to discuss bold new nuclear arms reductions. If the two nations could reach a basic agreement, this would clearly demonstrate to the world their commitment to disarmament ahead of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

In concrete terms, the two countries need to conclude a new nuclear disarmament treaty that will make far deeper cuts than those realized by START 1—working, for example, from proposals floated by the Russians in 2000 for mutual reductions in strategic arsenals to around the 1,000-warhead level.

In addition, the two countries should make immediate efforts to address long-pending issues such as U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the initiation of talks on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

Then, building on a U.S.-Russia consensus, a five-state summit for nuclear disarmament, including the other nuclear-weapon states and the UN Secretary-General, should be convened regularly to start drawing up a roadmap of specific measures to fulfill their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT.

Only when the nuclear-weapon states firmly set into motion good faith efforts toward disarmament will it be possible to obtain commitments from countries outside of the NPT framework on freezing nuclear weapon development programs and embarking on disarmament.

A parallel challenge that needs to be pursued is that of a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC), which would comprehensively prohibit the development, testing, manufacture, possession, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. A Model Nuclear Weapons Convention was drafted through the initiative of NGOs and submitted to the UN by Costa Rica in 1997; a revised version was circulated as a UN document in 2007. Last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added his voice, urging governments to consider an NWC.

The policy of deterrence, to which the nuclear-weapon states continue to cling, has served as a justification for other states to seek nuclear weapons capability; it is vital to establish international norms that prohibit nuclear arms with no exception for any state.

My mentor Josei Toda (1900–58), the second president of the Soka Gakkai, condemned anyone who would use nuclear weapons, irrespective of nationality, in his declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons issued in September 1957, the year before his passing. He perceived the national egoism that underlies the drive to possess nuclear weapons as a dire threat to the future of humankind.

Concerns have been voiced that it will be difficult to obtain the participation of the nuclear-weapon states in an NWC, and that without this it would lack all substance. There is room for hope, however, as some governments, India and the United Kingdom among them, have now officially acknowledged, although with various conditions and reservations, the need to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Despite the fact that it has yet to enter into force, the CTBT has led even states not party to the treaty to announce a moratorium on nuclear testing. Likewise, an NWC could function as an international norm exerting substantial influence on the behavior of the nuclear-weapon states.

Even if the nuclear-weapon states find it impossible to enter into immediate negotiations for an NWC, they can take actions on a regional basis that demonstrate a good faith adherence to the trend toward the outlawing of nuclear weapons. To this end, they could, for example, complete ratification of all outstanding protocols to Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) Treaties, and start addressing the establishment of an Arctic NWFZ, as I called for in my 2008 peace proposal.

Public support for nuclear abolition is gathering momentum. A poll conducted last year in twenty-one countries, including the nuclear-weapon states, showed that on average 76 percent of respondents favored an international agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons.7

Drawing on the experience of the initiatives taken by civil society in the campaigns for the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which opened a new chapter in the history of disarmament treaties, the calls for an NWC provide the opportunity for the people of the world to join in solidarity to lay siege to the very concept of nuclear weapons.

It was a surge in international public opinion against cluster munitions, a singularly inhumane class of weapons, that led to the adoption of the convention banning them within an exceptionally short period of time last year. Nuclear arms are the most inhumane of all weapons; once again, the humanitarian imperative must prevail over the militarist principle.

With former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev among its signatories, Global Zero, a campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide, was launched in Paris in December 2008. Rooted in the awareness that the broad-based mobilization of international public opinion is essential if a world free of nuclear weapons is to be realized, the campaign is planning to convene a World Summit in January 2010, bringing together political and civil society leaders.

As a long-time advocate of disarmament summitry, I hope for a successful outcome. The Global Zero World Summit and the NPT Review Conference to be held next year can serve as a springboard for negotiations toward an NWC.

When I conducted a dialogue with the British historian Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975), I was deeply impressed by his statement that the crucial elements required for the resolution of the nuclear issue are powerful initiatives on the part of people and a "self-imposed veto"8 on the possession of nuclear weapons on the part of governments.

An NWC would express and embody this self-imposed veto. Nuclear weapons epitomize an absolute evil that threatens humankind’s right to live; they are incompatible with the interests not only of national security but of human security—the pursuit of peace and dignity for all people on Earth. This conviction must form the foundation for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

I am convinced that such steps are indispensable to bringing to meaningful fruition the global sharing of efforts for peace—a commitment never to build one’s peace and security upon the terror and misery of others.

There is continuing concern about the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, and I believe that we must make tenacious efforts to reduce tensions and build confidence in their respective regions in order to put an end to the destructive spirals of threat and mistrust.

With Josei Toda’s declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons as our guiding principle, members of the SGI have consistently engaged in efforts to encourage people to see the problem of nuclear weapons as their own. In 2007, which marked the fiftieth anniversary of his declaration, we launched the exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" as one concrete step to promote a People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition. Toward the same end, the Soka Gakkai Women’s Peace Committee has produced a five-language DVD documenting the experiences of atomic bomb survivors, "Testimonies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Women Speak Out for Peace."

The year 2010 will mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of Josei Toda; an NWC would give concrete expression to his call for nuclear abolition. Working closely with other NGOs such as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), who have launched the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), we are determined to galvanize global public opinion toward the adoption of an NWC, with particular emphasis on activities initiated by women and young people.

  • 1 Bedjaoui, Mohammed. 2008. “Steps Toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention: Exploring and Developing Legal and Political Aspects.” p. 17.
  • 2 Ibid., p. 20.
  • 3 Ibid., p. 21.
  • 4 Obama, Barack. 2008. “A New Strategy for a New World.”
  • 5 Medvedev, Dmitry. 2008. “Speech at World Policy Conference.”
  • 6 Timesonline. 2008. “Putin Tells Britain: Relations Can Only Improve When You Remove Dissidents..”
  • 7 Global Zero. 2008. “100 International Leaders Launch Global Zero Campaign to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.”
  • 8 Toynbee, Arnold, and Daisaku Ikeda. 2007. Choose Life. London: I.B.Tauris. p. 194.

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