This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its successful effort to establish the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Peace, disarmament, and civil society groups around the world celebrated the announcement and congratulated ICAN for its landmark treaty accomplishment.
“[ICAN] is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic [health and environmental] consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons,”stated the Nobel Committee.
ICAN called the prize “a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.” By employing grass roots organizing and ordinary citizen diplomacy, ICAN, with Nukewatch among its 468 partner organizations from 101 countries, has permanently stigmatized nuclear weapons and their possessor governments, and helped move the world closer to their eventual elimination.
By outlawing all aspects of the Bomb’s possession and use, nuclear weapons join a growing list of prohibited devices that “kill or wound treacherously,” including biological weapons, chemical weapons, poison gas, land mines, and cluster bombs. The new ban treaty was concluded on July 7 when 122 United Nations member states voted in favor of its adoption. Since Sept. 20, 53 individual heads-of-state have signed the treaty, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Nuclear Abolitionists the first step in a government’s process of ratification which is decided by individual national parliaments. It will enter in force 90 days after at least 50 countries have ratified it.
Mexico’s senate voted unanimously Nov. 28 to ratify the treaty. The United States, the most powerful opponent of the ban, called the treaty negotiations “unrealistic,” and the US ambassador to the UN, Gov. Nikki Haley, led a boycott even though the talks were required under an explicit mandate (Art. VI) of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed and ratified by the United States in 1970. Although the UN boycott led by the United States flies in the face of decades of presidential promises to seek “a world without nuclear weapons, the US, UK and France said in a joint statement in July, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”
The Nobel committee’s choice appeared to directly confront the obstructionism by the US and the eight other nuclear armed states. As the Nuclear Threat Initiative noted, “The award was seen as a rebuke to nuclear weapons states and their allies who oppose the treaty.”
The ban treaty prohibits developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, stockpiling and deploying nuclear weapons, transferring or receiving them from others, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, allowing any stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons on national territories of signatories, and assisting, encouraging, or inducing any of these prohibited acts. And it requires each signatory state to develop “legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress” the prohibited activities.