The Soka Gakkai is a global community-based Buddhist organization with a membership of over 12 million people around the world that promotes peace, culture and education centered on respect for the dignity of life. The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) as a non-governmental organization has been in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1983. SGI’s efforts to help build a lasting culture of peace are based on a commitment to dialogue and nonviolence, and the understanding that individual happiness and the realization of a peaceful world are inextricably linked.
The SGI Office for UN Affairs operates in New York and Geneva, representing the SGI at the UN working primarily in the areas including peace and disarmament, sustainable development and climate change, human rights education, and gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The SGI’s annual peace proposals serve to guide our work at the UN. They also inform the activities undertaken by SGI organizations globally. Peace proposals dating from 2000 to the present can be accessed here. In 2013, a compilation of 30 years of proposals addressing the United Nations was published as, A Forum for Peace.
The roots of the Soka Gakkai date back to 1930 in Japan, when two school teachers, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and his colleague Josei Toda, founded an organization dedicated to promoting educational reform. This later developed into a broad-based membership organization of lay Buddhists. Central to Makiguchi’s approach to education was the happiness of the individual, which also drove him in his endeavors to secure a peaceful future for his country, especially for its children.
After World War II, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, rebuilt the lay Buddhist organization in Japan. As a pacifist, Toda was determined “to rid the world of misery” and believed that his ideal of global citizenship would help achieve that end. To a gathering of 50,000 young people in 1957, Toda shared his declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons—which serves as the foundation for our peace activities.
In 1975, the SGI was formed as a global association to link independent Soka Gakkai organizations around the world, and third Soka Gakkai president Daisaku Ikeda, became its president. For over 30 years, SGI’s annual peace proposals have contained ideas grounded in Buddhist humanism in response to global issues. The consistent focus has been on ways of revitalizing and strengthening the role of the UN; and the importance of civil society participation, with the belief that the global solidarity of ordinary citizens committed to supporting the UN will help empower it.