The Anti-Nuclear Exhibition “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace. Transforming the Human Spirit”
Oslo Rådhus, 15. april 2009
The Minister’s speech was based on the following talking points.
Check against delivery.
Vice-President of Soka Gakkai International
Ladies and gentlemen
- I wish you all heartily welcome to Oslo – many of you all the way from Japan.
- Ultimately, this is an exhibition about life. The starting point for Buddhism, Christianity and for other religions is the value of life. And what makes human life unique is the scale of our choice, the degree to which we are free to act for good or evil, to help or to harm, to choose between a culture of violence or a culture of peace – the very title of this exhibition.
- These may sound like “grand words”, but in my view there is now a window of opportunity for human security – a unifying call. The vision of a world without nuclear arms is now shared by new actors. The platform is broadening.
- I am very encouraged by the signals of the new administration in the United States – there is a new approach in Washington. President Obama’s speech in Prague last week was historic in many ways.
- This positive momentum – awareness of the need to take systematic steps to prevent the prospect of nuclear annihilation – cannot be sustained without political pressure from below.
- A generation ago, such pressure was exerted through rallies and peace marches that mobilised hundred of thousands people. They were important. The pressure grew. I remember these rallies from my time as a student in Paris. My generation woke up to the call, the grim outlook, the dangers – the fear – of nuclear annihilation. Then, we remember 1986 and the superpower meeting in Reykjavik, Presidents Gorbatchev and Reagan shaking hands, and talking about disarmament. A new vision.
- But then, strangely, my generation almost “left” the issue. Gradually, it was no longer at the top of the agenda. Other themes and pressing issues arose – the environment, international development, poverty, climate change, etc. Attention shifted. And now disarmament seems to be taken for granted. And wrongly so. These weapons still exist. They have not gone away. The big problem is still there.
- Japan – and not least Japanese civil society (and you can see many examples of Japanese art and culture elsewhere in the building) – has always been a key partner in the coalition to combat the nuclear threat. You have taken many important initiatives. You have mobilised new stakeholders. In our common quest for a more secure world without nuclear weapons.
- Now, I believe we are again at the crossroads – with reference to Obama’s speech in Prague – we, the international community, need to mobilise people once more. The “veterans” of the anti-nuclear movement of the 80s – I can see some of you here this afternoon – as well as the young people of today.
- And this exhibition is a contribution to this end. It shows – as you have already seen – the grim reality of a nuclear detonation, and the effects on civilians. It shows that nuclear weapons represent the most fundamental threat to human security.
- As I have mentioned, we have been heading in the wrong direction. Broad international consensus for eliminating nuclear weapons emerged after the Cold War evaporated. But among the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) parties, the dividing line between “disarmament first” and “non-proliferation first” became almost unbridgeable. This was clearly shown by the failed NPT 2005 Review Conference. The alarming developments in North Korea are one example of the many challenges the NPT has been facing over the last years.
- As President Obama said in Prague, “In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.”
- Will the vision be realised in our lifetime, in my lifetime? What is a realistic goal? The first step is to work hard for a successful Review Conference of the NPT in 2010. We must maximise the momentum we have now, use the window of opportunity we have now.
- And we must remember the importance of balancing the NPT’s three issues (“three legs”) – the balance between non-proliferation, civil use and disarmament. There has been – and there still is – strong focus on non-proliferation. Now we must also focus on disarmament. We must find the balance.
- The Norwegian Government has stated its objective to work for full abolition of nuclear arms. I know that this goal is ambitious. But I am convinced that true human security can only be achieved by making irreversible steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
- And again we must call on civil society, on the global networks that bind Japan and Norway, and other countries together. We must call on their engagement.
- It is about strengthening and transforming the human spirit – as the title of this exhibition indicates.
- Finally, I would like to thank Soka Gakkai International in particular, and PRIO and NUPI, as well as the Pugwash Committee, the Norwegian Atlantic Committee, and many other sponsors, for making this anti-nuclear exhibition a reality. An exhibition about life.
More information on the exhibition: www.sgi.org