Activists Against Nuclear Weapons React to Receiving Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to a group of nuclear weapons disarmament activists. The group’s work led to a treaty to prohibit them, which was reached at the United Nations in July.

ICAN members pose with banner

Nuclear disarmament group ICAN coordinator Daniel Hogstan, executive director Beatrice Fihn and her husband Will Fihn Ramsay pose with a banner after ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 6, 2017. | Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The group, based in Geneva, is known as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the award was given to the group “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.”

Known by the acronym ICAN, the group is made up of non-governmental organizations in 100 countries.

The world’s nine nations which possess nuclear weapons were joined by dozens of other countries in boycotting the talks for a treaty in March. Countries included the United States, Britain, France, and South Korea. The talks were supported by more than 120 countries, including Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, and Sweden.

In July, 122 United Nations members signed the treaty, which will be legally binding once 50 nations ratify it. Specifically, the treaty prohibits development, testing, possession, transfer, and use of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices.

Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons signed

Members attend the signing ceremony for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Sept. 20, 2017 at the United Nations in New York. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

“It’s a great honour to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 in recognition of our role in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” ICAN said in a statement Friday.

“This historic agreement, adopted on 7 July with the backing of 122 nations, offers a powerful, much-needed alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail and, indeed, are escalating … By harnessing the power of the people, we have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity.”

The group tweeted what an honor it was to receive the award as well:

ICAN was launched in 2007 and says it has 468 partner organizations in 101 countries. Founders of the group say they were inspired by a previous international campaign to ban landmines which helped bring about the anti-personnel mine ban treaty in 1997.

In related news, the Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded Monday to three American scientists for isolating the gene responsible for controlling biological rhythms. The Nobel Prize for literature was given Thursday to novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.