Nuclear disarmament group ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its decade-long campaign to rid the world of the atomic bomb.
The International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons “is receiving 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,” said Norwegian Nobel committee president Berit Reiss-Andersen in announcing the prize in Oslo.
“We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time,” she told a news conference.
Founded in Vienna in 2007 on the fringes of an international conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, ICAN has mobilised campaigners and celebrities alike in its cause.
It was a key player in the adoption of a historic nuclear weapons ban treaty, signed by 122 countries in July. However, the accord was largely symbolic as none of the nine known world nuclear powers signed up to it.
The coalition of hundreds of NGOs says its main objective is the adoption of an international treaty banning nuclear weapons, along the lines of earlier agreements forbidding the use of biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions.
“A global ban on nuclear weapons is long overdue,” the organisation says on its website.
ICAN leader Beatrice Fihn, was delighted with the news that the organisation had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Reiss-Andersen said.
“This award shines a needed light on the path the ban treaty provides towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Before it is too late, we must take that path,” ICAN said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror. The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now,” it added.