The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) “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”. ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around a hundred countries around the world.
The Nobel Committee explains that ICAN 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. Currently, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge. The Nobel Committee further explains that ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavour to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law.
Comment from the Peace Institute’s Director Kjell-Åke Nordquist:
This year’s Peace Prize concerns the very topical issue of nuclear weapons, a classical area for peace work. At least in principle, many parties agree that nuclear weapons are devastating to humanity and should be banned. The Peace Prize has also previously been awarded to persons or organizations for similar purposes, for example, in 1995 when Joseph Rotblat and Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs were awarded the prize “for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms”, in 1985 when International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War were awarded the prize for information about the consequences of nuclear war, as well as in in 1982 when the award was granted to Alva Myrdal and Alfonso García Robles for disarmament work through the UN. From such a perspective, this year’s prize is uncontroversial. At the same time, it concerns a very pressing issue, at a time when the Iran Agreement is questioned and North Korea’s test blasts cause widespread concern – while on the other hand, the UN has managed to reach an agreement on a nuclear weapons ban. It was a well deserved reward for the hard work of the ICAN, when this summer, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. After the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will be binding under international law for the countries that are party to the treaty. This year’s prize combines themes from the awards mentioned above, as it includes both the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons and the importance of disarmament. ICAN’s efforts are clearly in Nobel Peace Prize class and is also close to the intentions of Alfred Nobel as described in his will. It is particularly gratifying that this year’s prize goes to civil society efforts for disarmament.
The Åland Islands Peace Institute congratulates ICAN and its member organizations, especially the Peace Union of Finland, an umbrella organization of which the Peace Institute is a member.
On November 20th, the Peace Institute is pleased to welcome the chairperson of the Peace Union of Finland, also the ICAN network representative in Finland, Tarja Cronberg, to Åland, where she is going to talk about nuclear weapons issues at a lunch seminar organized by the Peace Institute.