Nuclear Weapons, ICAN and the Nobel Prize

There are no right hands for the wrong weapons.

— Beatrice Fihn, ICAN Executive Director, October 6, 2017

Few times in history show the remarkable gulf between international civic action and international political constipation.  The will of approaching a world without nuclear weapons has been matched every step of the way with the desire and wish to acquire or keep them.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons hardly sounds like the paragon of coherence, even if its purpose is crystal and unmistakable. It flies in the face of the Machiavellian world order; it speaks of an aspiration that seems, in a world of 15,000 nuclear weapons, charmingly foolish yet paramount.

ICAN’s purpose has certainly been bolstered by various international documents that take strong issue with the continued existence of nuclear weapons.  The final document of the 2010 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference referenced those “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” while affirming the need “for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.”

The Noble Prize Committee was likeminded, feeling that ICAN deserved 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.”

In the words of Nobel committee…

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