Toward an Era of Human Rights: Building a People’s Movement
Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), issued his annual peace proposal titled “Toward an Era of Human Rights: Building a People’s Movement.”
President Ikeda welcomes the July 2017 adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as a turning point in the global history of efforts to achieve peace and disarmament, emphatic that while nuclear weapons exist, a world of peace and human rights will remain elusive. He outlines strategies for gaining support for the Treaty from the nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-dependent states.
In particular, President Ikeda calls on Japan to declare its readiness to consider becoming party to the TPNW: “Having experienced the reality of nuclear weapons, Japan cannot turn away from its moral responsibility.” He asks us to never forget the spirit of the hibakusha—atomic bomb victims—who played a crucial role together with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in the drafting and adoption of the Treaty, recognized by the award of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
The main theme of this, President Ikeda’s 36th proposal, is that a human rights focused approach is key to resolving global issues, including the nuclear threat. In this year that marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he stresses the need to make the life and dignity of each individual our focal point—the fact that every human being is inherently precious and irreplaceable.
He cites the hibakusha and their determination that no one else should suffer what they have endured as exemplifying a foundational spirit for human rights. “The ideal of international human rights law is the quest to protect the life and dignity of each individual, a quest in which the continued pursuit of nuclear arms has no place.”
President Ikeda highlights the power of human rights education in overcoming social divides, stating that its real significance lies in reviving our desire to perceive the common humanity of those different from us. He proposes that youth be the focus for the fourth phase of the UN’s World Programme for Human Rights Education, beginning in 2020.
Running through the proposal is concern for the lives and human rights of refugees and migrants in the face of discrimination. President Ikeda calls for focused efforts to ensure access to education for refugee and migrant children, especially those separated from their families.
Urging greater progress toward achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he proposes deepened cooperation between China and Japan in the form of a local government network for climate action.
President Ikeda also identifies gender equality as essential to the SDGs, stating: “Gender equality and empowerment should not be regarded as just one element of the SDGs, but rather should be recognized as key to accelerating progress toward the achievement of the entire spectrum of goals.”
Finally, he calls for a UN international decade for the empowerment of women from 2020 to 2030, the target date for achievement of the SDGs.
The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a community-based network promoting Buddhist humanism and peace with 12 million members around the world. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda (1928–) has issued peace proposals offering a Buddhist perspective and solutions to global problems on January 26 every year since 1983, to commemorate the founding of the SGI.
[The full proposal in English will be available on February 16, 2018]