A campaign group seeking a global ban on nuclear arms won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, given the award by a Nobel Committee that cited the spread of weapons to North Korea and said the risk was growing of nuclear war.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) has been awarded the 2107 Nobel Peace prize.
The chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the award had been made in recognition of the group’s 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 award to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was unexpected, particularly in a year when the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran had been seen as favorites for achieving the sort of diplomatic breakthrough that has won the prize in the past.
Supporters described the award as a potential breakthrough for a global movement that has fought to ban nuclear arms from the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945.
ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn told Reuters the group was elated. “This. Is. Surreal.” she later tweeted.
“Nuclear weapons are illegal. Threatening to use nuclear weapons is illegal. Having nuclear weapons, possessing nuclear weapons, developing nuclear weapons, is illegal, and they need to stop,” she told Reuters.
ICAN describes itself as a coalition of grassroots non-government groups in more than 100 nations. It began in Australia and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.
In her speech announcing the prize, Berit Reiss-Andersen, the leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said the risk that nuclear weapons might be used was now “greater than it has been for a long time”.
“Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea.”
The award was hailed by anti-nuclear campaigners around the world. “Now more than ever we need a world without nuclear weapons,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted.
Mikiso Iwasa, an 88-year-old Hiroshima survivor, told Reuters the prize would help push the movement forward.
“It is wonderful we have this Nobel Peace-Prize winning movement. All of us need to join forces, think hard and walk forward together to turn this momentum into something even bigger,” he said.Reuters