Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Melbourne anti-nuclear campaign ICAN

An international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons that originated in Carlton in Melbourne ten years ago has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Peace.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the prize for highlighting the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of using nuclear weapons and its tireless efforts in trying to bring about a prohibition treaty.

As a newly crowned peace prize laureate, ICAN has now reiterated its called on Australia to sign the Treaty on the United Nations Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by 122 countries in July.

The treaty has been shunned by the major nuclear powers: US, Britain, Russia and China, as well as Australia, which doesn’t possess nuclear weapons.

Similar bans have been reached on chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster munitions, but nuclear weapons have so far avoided condemnation despite being more destructive.

ICAN was awarded the prize from more than 300 nominated organisations and individuals at a time of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organisations from around 100 different countries worldwide. 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 stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.

The risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernising their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth.

The strained political atmosphere compounded by the warlike rhetoric of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and threats by the USA to repudiate the Iran nuclear agreement.

Supported by the Dalai Lama and celebrities such as Yoko Ono, Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas, ICAN was officially launched in Austria in April 2007. It was inspired by the negotiations that led to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention – also known as the Ottawa treaty.

The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a solid grounding in Alfred Nobel’s will. The will specifies three different criteria for awarding the Peace Prize: the promotion of fraternity between nations, the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

ICAN works vigorously to achieve nuclear disarmament. ICAN and a majority of United Nations member states have contributed to fraternity between nations by supporting the Humanitarian Pledge. Through its inspiring and innovative support for the UN negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what is today equivalent to an international peace congress.