Since the beginning of the nuclear age and the dropping of the first atomic bombs, humankind has struggled with the reality of being able to destroy the planet on the one hand and the abolition of these weapons on the other. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear (ICAN) acknowledges these realities and celebrates the efforts to achieve the latter. The Nobel Peace Prize with its award criteria specifies: the promotion of fraternity between nations; the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
From the beginning of the nuclear age in 1945 to the founding of the United Nations, 71 years ago, with its very first resolution – advocating for the importance of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon-free world – nuclear abolition has been the necessary goal for our survival. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) exemplifies these ideals and brings hope to our world.
In a world armed with some 15,000 nuclear weapons, everything that we cherish and value is threatened every moment of every day. From a limited nuclear war to all out nuclear war between “superpowers,” our future is hanging in the balance. Whether by intent, miscalculation or accident, never before has the world been closer to nuclear war. From the setting of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock in January of this year to 2 ½ minutes till midnight – where midnight represents Armageddon from nuclear war and the relationship to climate change – to the dangerous rhetoric between our president and North Korea, China and Russia resulting in the worst relations between nuclear powers in decades, we face great peril.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize acknowledges the grave humanitarian consequences of nuclear war – a threat for which there is no adequate humanitarian or medical response and whose only solution is prevention through the total abolition of these weapons.
This is the path chosen by the majority of the nations of the world on July 7 when they voted 122-1 to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Unwilling to remain forever hostage to the arsenals of the nuclear armed states, these nations, with the strong support of global civil society, agreed to eliminate and ban all nuclear weapons.
ICAN is a coalition of 468 non-governmental organizations from 101 countries around the globe. The coalition has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 127 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge that ultimately led up to this year’s U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This Treaty will ban nuclear weapons just as every other weapon of mass destruction has previously been banned. The Treaty opened for signature on September 21, the International…