ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize 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”.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of more than 400 non-governmental organizations in one hundred countries. By harnessing the power of the people, ICAN has actively worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity.
ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavour to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law. On 7 July 2017, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As soon as the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will enter into force and will be binding under international law for all the countries that are party to the treaty.
This prize is a tribute to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the hibakusha, and to the victims of nuclear test explosions around the world, whose testimonies and unstinting advocacy were instrumental in achieving this prohibition agreement.
Many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide have protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and that must be forever removed from the face of our earth. The treaty categorically outlaws the worst weapons of mass destruction and establishes a clear pathway to their total elimination. There is still much to do, however. We must be very active until all World States have signed this UN Treaty. This is specially true for countries possessing nuclear weapons. Nine countries together possess around 15,000 nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia maintaining roughly 1,800 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status. And several European countries host US nuclear weapons on their soil as part of a NATO nuclear-sharing arrangement. All countries having nuclear weapons and all NATO countries must sign the 7 July 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a big task, but we will work to achieve it.