Ban the bomb: How Nobel Peace Prize winner ICAN has been combating nuclear weapons

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The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded 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".

Based out of Geneva, ICAN is a coalition of over 400 non-governmental organizations from 101 different countries across the world.

The organisation was formed in 2007 under the initiative of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

The main mission of the group is to rid the world of nuclear weapons by outlawing them. They have held several national campaigns in different countries for endorsement of the same. The group says individuals like Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, and Yoko Ono have supported their campaigns.

Much of the credit behind the recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted by UN was given to ICAN’s campaign. The Treaty entails the signatory nations to not “Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” They are not also allowed to transfer or have indirect control over such weapons.

In its statement after the prize announcement, ICAN said, “We are proud to have played a major role its (the Treaty’s) creation, including through advocacy and participation in diplomatic conferences, and we will work assiduously in coming years to ensure its full implementation. Any nation that seeks a more peaceful world, free from the nuclear menace, will sign and ratify this crucial accord without delay.”

Till now 53 countries have signed the Treaty. But few countries including US, Britain, And France have not participated in the Treaty talks.

The Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to ICAN assumes significance given the rising international tension with Israel’s nuclear deal and North Korea’s continuous nuclear weapon threats.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN, stated that “It is disappointing to see some countries with strong humanitarian records standing with a government which threatens a new arms race.”

Another of ICAN’s contributions lies in the Humanitarian Pledge movement of 2015, which prior to the treaty, brought together around 100 countries to support the initiatives against nuclear weapons.

The chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said that ICAN’s endeavours fell in line with Alfred Nobel’s will that said one part of it would go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

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