The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is not just an office near the United Nations in Geneva, but a large disarmament group alliance that pushed through a recent UN treaty to ban all nuclear weapons, which was finally signed in July. The umbrella group includes 450 organisations and tens of thousands of activists around the world. It formed 10 years ago to work towards such an agreement.
The recently passed treaty bans the production, possession, storage and use of nuclear weapons. It was adopted despite the opposition of countries that have such weapons and their allies, including Germany and Japan. The existing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty only aims to prevent the spread of such arms, without placing tough disarmament obligations on nuclear weapons states.
ICAN’s efforts were therefore modelled on other disarmament treaties, such as the pact that bans landmines, cluster munition or chemical weapons. These pacts do not only focus on the weapons themselves, but on the massive human cost that their use brings about.
“Is it acceptable to kill hundreds of thousands of people or not? If not, nuclear weapons have to be banned,” Swedish activist Fihn said before her organisation was named this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The treaty would place pressure on those governments that are refusing to sign it. This includes the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato), which relies on nuclear deterrence.
The treaty will come into force as soon as 50 countries have ratified it by turning it into their national law.
So far, 53 countries have signed the pact, but only Guyana, the Holy See and Thailand have ratified it.
With its win on Friday, the tiny Geneva ICAN team will also make one other change to global standards: It will help to lower the average age of Nobel Peace Prize winners. All of the four staffers are below 35 years old. Its Executive Director, Beatrice Fihn, is 34. The average age of all peace prize laureates from 1901 to 2016 is 61. — dpa