The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of 100-plus NGOs from around the world, just won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize (Oct. 6), as the Norwegian Nobel Committee throws its weight behind the United Nations’ attempt to pass a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
“We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for some time,” said the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, who called out countries trying to modernize their arsenals and North Korea’s attempts to become a fully-fledged power.
Reiss-Andersen called the announcement an “encouragement” to states that haven’t backed the new treaty effort. “The international community has previously adopted prohibitions against landmines, cluster munitions, and biological weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive but haven’t yet been made the object of international legal prohibition.”
The academy’s decision piles pressure on US president Donald Trump, who has been publicly mulling leaving the Iran deal, which he called “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” in his recent UN General Assembly speech.
The academy denied it was a “kick in the leg” to Trump, whose administration has been lobbying governments against signing the UN treaty. “We’re not kicking any body’s leg with this prize, we’re giving great encouragement,” Reiss-Andersen said.
The coalition follows 2016 winner Colombian president Juan Miguel Santos for his efforts to end Colombia’s long-running civil war.
The architects of the Iran nuclear deal—Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and former US secretary of State John Kerry—had been picked as frontrunners this year in what would have been a loud rebuff to Trump. Other favorites included Pope Francis and Syria’s White Helmets.
Kazuo Ishiguro picked up the literature award, following Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young’s victory in physiology and medicine; Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne’s triumph in physics; and Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson’s win for their work in chemistry.