Further civil society action needed toward nuclear abolition
The ratification of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by the 50th member state, Honduras, on October 24, 2020, UN Day, is being lauded as a historic step by the global Soka Gakkai Buddhist organization. The Treaty will enter into force 90 days later, on January 22, 2021.
The TPNW is the first international instrument to comprehensively ban the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons. It was adopted at the UN in July 2017, with the support of 122 member states and numerous civil society groups. It is hoped that the Treaty’s entry into force will signal the beginning of the end of the era of nuclear weapons.
In a statement, Soka Gakkai International Director-General for Peace and Global Issues Hirotsugu Terasaki asserts: “The entry into force of the TPNW establishes the fundamental norm that nuclear weapons are subject to comprehensive prohibition. This has a profound historical significance.”
The statement calls upon nuclear-weapon and nuclear-dependent states, including Japan – the only country to have experienced the devastation caused by nuclear bombing during wartime – to attend as observers the first meeting of parties to the TPNW to be held within one year from its entry into force.
Expressing concern that some countries are moving towards modernization and miniaturization of nuclear weapons, Terasaki comments, “It is up to civil society to decide if we will continue to tolerate humanity being held hostage by nuclear weapons, or whether we will raise our voices as an irresistible force for their banning and abolition.” Surveys indicate overwhelming public support for the Treaty in many countries that have not yet joined it. The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is fully committed to continuing efforts to expand global people’s solidarity toward a world free from nuclear weapons.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, a longstanding proponent of the Treaty, wrote in his 2020 peace proposal: “I am convinced that the efficacy of the TPNW will be enhanced as a global norm for all humanity when people’s broad support is brought together, transcending differences of nationality and perspective. It has the power to embrace not only those already engaged with peace and disarmament issues but also those concerned with gender and human rights or with the future of their children and their families.”
The SGI has participated in key international conferences on nuclear disarmament, and actively works with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and other civil society groups. The SGI’s efforts to promote the TPNW include educational exhibitions and online resources such as testimonies of hibakusha and cohosting of international conferences, including the International Youth Summit on Nuclear Abolition held in Hiroshima in August 2015.
As Buddhists promoting respect for the dignity of human life,
SGI has also participated in numerous interfaith initiatives and statements promoting the Treaty, including one linking over 200 groups of different faiths issued in August 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The Soka Gakkai’s activities to promote the abolition of nuclear weapons date back more than 60 years, to September 1957, when Josei Toda, the organization’s second president, issued a Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, calling them a threat to humanity’s inviolable right to live.
The Soka Gakkai is a global community-based Buddhist association with 12 million members around the world. Its activities to promote peace, culture and education are part of the longstanding tradition of Buddhist humanism. The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) has been accredited as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1983.