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"A timely decision!"

2017-10-06

Professor Peter Wallensteen,Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, comments the Nobel peace prize for 2017:

A timely decision! The Nobel peace prize for 2017 has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN. It has been a strong promoter of the ban on nuclear weapons that was decided on in the UN General Assembly on July 7, 2017.

The committee rewards the organization 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 treaty has been supported by European states such as Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Ireland, in addition to New Zealand, the Vatican and most of the countries in Latin America, African and Asia

The chair of the Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, exemplified with the situation of North Korea in her statement, pointing to the urgency of nuclear weapons disarmament. Biological, chemical and land mine weapons have already been banned and ICAN’s work has focused on doing the same for nuclear weapons. Thus, this is a call on the nuclear weapons states to start serious negotiations of disarmament.

It follows a tradition of the Norwegian Nobel committee to encourage broad-based organizations working with rational arguments based on deep insights to promote the issue of nuclear weapons disarmament. 


Earlier laureates are the Pugwash movement of scientists, and the Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Nuclear disarmament is a universally agreed goal and the idea of an international treaty banning nuclear weapons is an innovation that has global support. As the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committte said: law matters!

With this, the Nobel committee encourages all countries to join the treaty and it lends support to those working for such goals in countries that have not signed the treaty idea yet. In particular, it singles out the main nuclear weapons states. 

It should also noted that the executive director of ICAN is a woman, Beatrice Fihn, thus so far being the only woman that can receive a Nobel prize insignia this year.

Professor Peter Wallensten
Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University