Nobel Peace Prize awarded to anti-Nuke campaign group ICAN

06 October 2017

The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday announced its decision to award this year's Nobel Prize for Peace to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of grassroots non-government groups in more than 100 nations.

The Nobel Committee cited a rising risk of nuclear war and the spread of weapons in the light of the North Korean threat to bestow the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on the campaign group seeking a global ban on nuclear arms.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the organisation is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons, the Nobel Committee said.

''We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernising their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth.

''Through binding international agreements, the international community has previously adopted prohibitions against land mines, cluster munitions and biological and chemical weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition,'' the committee noted.

Through its work, ICAN has helped to fill this legal gap. An important argument in the rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons is the unacceptable human suffering that a nuclear war will cause. ICAN, a coalition of non-governmental organisations from around 100 different countries, has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world's nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.

Besides, ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavour to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law. On 7 July, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As soon as the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will enter into force and will be binding under international law for all the countries that are party to the treaty.

While an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon, and that so far neither the states that already have nuclear weapons nor their closest allies support the nuclear weapon ban treaty, the Nobel Committee wants the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons involving the nuclear-armed states.

''This year's Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world.

It is now 71 years since the UN General Assembly, in its very first resolution, advocated the importance of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon-free world. With this year's award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said it wishes to pay tribute to ICAN for giving new momentum to the efforts to achieve this goal.

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