OSLO – The International campaign to abolish nuclear weapons was awarded the highly-coveted 2017 Nobel Peace prize on Friday.
Founded in 2007, ICAN is a non-profit organization that includes 468 partner organizations in 101 countries that promote full adherence to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“The organization 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 on such weapons,” said Norwegian Nobel Committee chair, Berit Reiss-Anderson, during a ceremony in Oslo.
“We live in a world where the risk for nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea,” Reiss-Anderson added.
After learning the news, ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn told journalists in Geneva that the award sent a message to nuclear-armed states that using such arms for security reasons was not acceptable behavior.
“We will not support it, we will not make excuses for it, we can’t threaten to indiscriminately slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians in the name of security. That’s not how you build security,” Fihn said, after revealing that she thought the call she got from the Committee minutes before the announcement could have been a prank.
Reiss-Anderson said nuclear weapons continued to pose a threat to humanity but had yet to be subject to the same international prohibitions against less destructive munitions such as land-mines, cluster bombs and biological and chemical weapons.
“Through its work, ICAN has helped to fill this legal gap,” Reiss-Anderson said, adding that the NGO coalition made efforts to pressure relevant parties to stigmatize and eliminate nuclear arms.
The Committee chair, a former Norwegian politician, said ICAN had been the leading civil body advocating an international treaty on the prohibition nuclear weapons which was signed by 122 United Nations member states on July 7 in what was a landmark agreement.
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons needs to be ratified by 50 member states in order for it to be brought into internationally binding law.
Reiss-Anderson lamented that the deal was boycotted by all nuclear armed countries and their allies, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China.
She called for serious international negotiations to eliminate the estimated 15,000 nuclear arms in the world.
ICAN becomes a Nobel Peace laureate organization one year after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the prize for his efforts in negotiating a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas.
The award ceremony for the peace prize is set to take place in Oslo’s town hall on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of the Nobel Prize founder, Alfred Nobel.
The Nobel prizes for the sciences, literature and economy, which are allocated by the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, the Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish Academy will be awarded in a separate ceremony in Stockholm.
The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded 9 million Swedish kroner ($1.1 million).