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International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons receives the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The organization was chosen from among more than 300 nominations.

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Interview with Yanthe Hall of ICAN Germany

The Norwegian Nobel Comittee on Friday named the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) as the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The committee said ICAN had received the 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."

"We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and there is a real danger that more nations will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth," the Nobel Committee said.

ICAN activists protesting at North Korean embassy in Berlin (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen)

ICAN has protested at the North Korea-USA conflict

 

It added: "It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor."

The committee also emphasized that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN was meant to send a signal to nuclear-armed states to consider their responsibilities with regard to disarmament.

Positive international reactions

A spokeswoman for the German government said Germany supported the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and congratulated the committee on its decision.

The UN called the award "a good omen" for the eventual ratification of a treaty banning nuclear weapons that was signed by 122 countries in July.

ICAN played a major role in bringing about the treaty. However, the agreement is largely symbolic, as none of the nine known world nuclear powers signed up to it.

NATO reservations

NATO has given a far more reserved reception to the announcement of ICAN's win, saying "realities" of global security must be considered in all bids to ban nuclear weapons.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was good that the Nobel Committee had drawn attention to the issue of disarmament with its choice and that the alliance continued to be committed to creating the conditions for a world free from nuclear weapons.

But he reiterated his criticism of the recent treaty, saying that a "verifiable and balanced reduction of nuclear weapons" as enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be the emphasis for now. NATO would remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons existed, he added.

Read more: States sign nuclear weapons ban shunned by nations with nukes

Coalition of grassroots groups

According to its own description, the Geneva-based ICAN brings together grassroots non-government groups in more than 100 nations to form a coalition. It started off in Australia, and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.

Read more: What is ICAN, winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2017?

In a statement released after the announcement of its win, ICAN called it a "great honor" to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The prize was a tribute not only "to the tireless efforts of milions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide," but also to "the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — the hibakusha — and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world," the statement said.Nukeless nations sign ban shunned by atomic powers

'Risk of ending the world'

The prize "sends a message to all nuclear-armed states and all states that continue to rely on nuclear weapons for security that it is unacceptable behavior," ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn
told reporters in Geneva.

In an interview with the news agency AFP this week, Fihn said there was an urgent need to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Beatrice Fihn (picture-alliance/Kyodo)

Fihn: Nuclear weapons risk ending the world

"Nuclear weapons have the risk of literally ending the world," she said. 

"As long as they exist, the risk will be there, and eventually our luck will run out."

The announcement of the Peaze Prize laureate is the culmination of a week in which Nobel prizes have been awarded in medicine, physics, chemistry and literature.

Each prize is worth 9 million kronor (€944,597, $1.1 million). The prize ceremonies take place annually in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, except that for the peace prize, which is held in Oslo, Norway.

Read more:  Nuclear weapons: Who are the world's haves and have nots?

Much-anticipated prizes

With the exception of the prize for economics, which is to be awarded next week, all the Nobel prizes were established by the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833-96), the inventor of dynamite.

Last year's Nobel Peace Prize went to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end the long civil war in his country.

This year, the five-member Nobel Committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, sorted through 318 nominations, including 215 individiduals and 103 organizations. It does not release the names of nominees for 50 years.

The prize honors not only accomplishments, but also  intentions in the field of peacemaking.

tj/rt (AP, dpa)

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