Deutsche Welle reports that the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday, October 6, named the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) as the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The organization was awarded the prize because of “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.” The ongoing standoff between North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump was frequently mentioned during the nomination ceremony. Namely, according to BBC, the Nobel Prize citation clearly expressed fear for the uncontrolled spread of nuclear weapons, and the threat they pose to today’s world. Although attempts like the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have been made to curb the further buildup of nuclear arsenals, the prevalence of such weapons still prompts concern.
ICAN was formed in 2007, with the aim of banning the use of landmines. Its main supporters are actor Michael Sheen, artist Ai Weiwei, and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Time Magazine identified some reasons why the Nobel Committee’s selection of ICAN is a popular one. First, the continuous work the organization undertook, which culminated with the adoption of the symbolic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in June. This is the group’s most notable achievement, as it convinced 122 UN members to agree on the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons. Although none of the nine states possessing such arms signed a treaty, it was definitely a step forward. Time especially noted the context of an increased risk of nuclear confrontation, with Kim Jong-un’s continuous testing of missiles and Donald Trump’s unrelenting aggressive rhetoric,as well as the uncertainty surrounding the Iran Nuclear Deal, to highlightthe value of the ICAN’s work.
In addition, this is the closest the Doomsday Clock has been to Doomsday since 1953, indicating the generalized fear of a nuclear confrontation.
Finally, this year’s award is an illustration of the Nobel Committee’s tendency to reward attempts to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
At a time when the threat of nuclear war is constantly increasing, it is important that attempts are made to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is important that campaigns like that of ICAN gain prominence, in order to sensitize the world, and raise public awareness of the issue.