It was particularly bitter that 2001, the first year of the new century, was marred by the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. This incident was diametrically opposed to the spirit of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence that so many people have been seeking.
Yet to permit this incident to impact us in a lasting and negative way would be to play into the perpetrators'' hands. The goal of terrorism is to thrust people into chaos and confusion, to fan fear and mistrust; it is vital that we never succumb to these emotions. We must rather bring forth the power of the human spirit in even greater measure, surpassing and exceeding the magnitude of the threat that faces us.
Many people have been pondering the question of whether any form of dialogue or engagement is possible with those who remain hidden behind the veil of anonymity. What can people of good will do, how are they to respond to ruthless, cold-blooded acts of evil?
One thing is certain: reprisal invites reprisal. Any act of vengeance will inevitably provoke a response, and the cycle will continue without end. This is the lesson, rooted in the depths of human nature, which has been learned at the cost of untold suffering and bloodshed.
I repeat my absolute opposition to all forms of violence, terror and retaliation. All violence is an affront to human dignity. But transforming the course of human history will require of each individual a truly profound inner resolution, an existential determination to seek one''s fundamental, inherent humanity and to transform one''s entire being---an endeavor that we in the SGI call human revolution.
Crucial to this process is an awareness of the existence of others---to have what might be called an internalized other. It is only through intense spiritual interaction that humans grow and mature. An inner, spiritual dialogue is a necessary prerequisite for any attempt at external dialogue.
In the light of what I call the humanism of the Middle Way, before us suddenly opens the great way of dialogue, the capacity to transcend differences and share innermost sentiments with any and all people. This conviction has been the guiding principle for my own actions.
Without dialogue, humans are fated to walk in the darkness of their own dogmatic self-righteousness. Dialogue is the lamp by which we dispel that darkness, lighting for each other our steps and the path ahead.
Strengthening International Law
It is crucial that we aim for the creation of a universal system that will prevent, suppress, and, where necessary, punish any act of terror. By strengthening the structures and systems of international law, international police work, and the international judiciary, it should be possible to build a comprehensive and coordinated response to terror. In this effort, the UN must be accorded a central role. In this regard, I would specifically like to propose the following measures:
Long-term Preventive Measures
- The adoption of a comprehensive treaty for the prevention of terrorism, complementing existing conventions.
- The establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a means of replacing solutions based on force with solutions rooted in law.
It is vital that steps be taken from a long-term perspective to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. In this regard, I would like to suggest measures centered on three themes: human rights, poverty alleviation and disarmament.
Human rights education can play a particularly crucial role in preventing acts of violence and terror, which have their origin in the workings of the human heart. My proposal is for the establishment of a Decade of Human Rights Education for Peace to follow up on the work of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education.
With regard to poverty, I repeat my call for implementing the equivalent of a global Marshall Plan in which monies freed by debt relief to the most heavily indebted poor countries would be applied to poverty alleviation, education, health care and medical treatment, as well as to enhancing social infrastructure.
Encouraging disarmament is a crucial step in establishing institutional measures to prevent the worsening of conflicts. I strongly urge consideration of reform of the consensus rules by which the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament operates, so that veto by one country is no longer possible.
The adoption of a treaty for a comprehensive ban on all nuclear weapons continues to be a goal of SGI members around the world.
All countries should ratify the landmines treaty, and a full ban on the export of landmines should be implemented immediately. Systems of cooperative action to promote demining and provide support to the victims of landmines are also crucial.
Protecting the Global Environment
In August 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. We must make a strong, fresh determination to arrive at bold, original and thoroughgoing initiatives, and to make the conference the point of departure for new action for the sake of the human future. Here I would like to propose several ideas that I feel could help strengthen the framework of international cooperation to protect the environment.
- The appointment of a UN High Commissioner for the Environment who would coordinate the activities of various agencies and lead efforts toward resolving global environmental issues.
- The phased consolidation of the secretariats overseeing the implementation of various environmental treaties, with monies saved pooled into a ""Global Green Fund.""
- Intensified efforts to develop renewable energy sources and the adoption of an international treaty for the promotion of renewable energy.
- I would also like to add my renewed support for the Earth Charter, as a comprehensive statement of the norms and values essential to effective global governance and a guideline for humanity in the twenty-first century.
Building the Foundations of Peace in Asia
- With regard to the upcoming UN Special Session on Children, I strongly urge the ratification by all countries of the two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These protocols are designed to protect children from those actions that most grievously abuse their rights---the use of children as soldiers and their sale or use in prostitution.
- In addition, consideration should be given to the drafting and adoption of a world charter on education, which would set forth a vision for education in the twenty-first century based on prioritizing the lifelong happiness of the learner as the true goal of education. It would also express a moral commitment to implementing peace education and education for global citizenship on a worldwide scale.
Realizing lasting peace in Asia is not a matter of any one country taking the lead. Rather, it is a matter of building multilayered networks of friendship and trust between and among the peoples of each country. Among the activities slated for this year is the Japan-China-Republic of Korea Young Leaders Exchange Program.
- I believe we should encourage this kind of exchange throughout Asia in order to provide wider opportunities for members of the rising generation, in particular for young women, to establish bonds of friendship that transcend national boundaries.
- I would like to see a joint research project that will build the foundations for a shared understanding of the recent history of Asia. The cumulative impact of a dialogue-centered effort to create a common understanding of our shared history is indispensable to future prospects for peace in Asia.
Dialogue, trust and collaboration---these are the foundations on which the global civilization of the twenty-first century is to be built. This year, under the theme of expanding dialogue, the members of the SGI are determined to work to further spread the solidarity of humanism in order to build a world of peace and coexistence.