People's Stories Human Rights Today

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
by Norwegian Nobel Committee, agencies
Oslo, 6 October 2017
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
The organization is receiving the award 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 countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth.
Through binding international agreements, the international community has previously adopted prohibitions against land mines, cluster munitions and biological and chemical weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition.
Through its work, ICAN has helped to fill this legal gap. An important argument in the rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons is the unacceptable human suffering that a nuclear war will cause.
ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around 100 different countries around the globe. The coalition has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.
Furthermore, ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavour to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law.
On 7 July 2017, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As soon as the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will enter into force and will be binding under international law for all the countries that are party to the treaty.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is aware that an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon, and that so far neither the states that already have nuclear weapons nor their closest allies support the nuclear weapon ban treaty.
The Committee wishes to emphasize that the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states. This year’s Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world.
Five of the states that currently have nuclear weapons – the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China – have already committed to this objective through their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1970.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty will remain the primary international legal instrument for promoting nuclear disarmament and preventing the further spread of such weapons.
It is now 71 years since the UN General Assembly, in its very first resolution, advocated the importance of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon-free world. With this year’s award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to pay tribute to ICAN for giving new momentum to the efforts to achieve this goal.
The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a solid grounding in Alfred Nobel’s will. The will specifies three different criteria for awarding the Peace Prize: the promotion of fraternity between nations, the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
ICAN works vigorously to achieve nuclear disarmament. ICAN and a majority of UN member states have contributed to fraternity between nations by supporting the Humanitarian Pledge. And through its inspiring and innovative support for the UN negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.
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 vigour.
Oct. 6, 2017
Group''s Nobel Peace Prize win spotlights need to end ''nuclear nightmare'' says UN chief. (UN News)
Congratulating the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on being awarded today the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, top United Nations officials said that the recognition is a reminder of the need to grim threats posed by such weapons to humanity.
“This Prize recognizes the determined efforts of civil society to highlight the unconscionable humanitarian and environmental consequences that would result if nuclear weapons were ever used again,” read a statement attributable to the spokesperson of the Secretary-General.
“At a time when nuclear anxieties are at the highest level since the Cold War, the Secretary-General calls on all countries to show vision and greater commitment for a world free of nuclear weapons,” it added, noting the urgency to end the threat of a “nuclear nightmare.”
Concerted efforts by ICAN as well as many other civil society organizations contributed to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in July this year, the first multilateral legally binding instrument for nuclear disarmament in decades.
The UN''s top disarmament official offered her own congratulations to ICAN and underscored that achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world continues to be an urgent priority for the UN.
Expressing hope that the Nobel Peace Prize would give new momentum to the agenda, Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs called for “serious efforts by the international community to pursue disarmament as a means for preventing conflict, reducing international tensions and achieving sustainable peace and security.”
More than 15,000 nuclear weapons remain in global stockpiles, with many on high levels of alert. Furthermore, tensions have flared over the nuclear weapons development programme of the Democratic People''s Republic of Korea since past few months.
Nuclear disarmament has been an objective for the UN since the very first General Assembly resolution in 1946, which established the goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction.
Oct. 6, 2017 (ICAN)
It is a great honour to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 in recognition of our role in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This historic agreement, adopted on 7 July with the backing of 122 nations, offers a powerful, much-needed alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail and, indeed, are escalating.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations in one hundred countries. By harnessing the power of the people, we have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity.
This prize is 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.
It is a tribute also to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the hibakusha – and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world, whose searing testimonies and unstinting advocacy were instrumental in securing this landmark agreement.
The treaty categorically outlaws the worst weapons of mass destruction and establishes a clear pathway to their total elimination. It is a response to the ever-deepening concern of the international community that any use of nuclear weapons would inflict catastrophic, widespread and long-lasting harm on people and our living planet.
We are proud to have played a major role its creation, including through advocacy and participation in diplomatic conferences, and we will work assiduously in coming years to ensure its full implementation. Any nation that seeks a more peaceful world, free from the nuclear menace, will sign and ratify this crucial accord without delay.
The belief of some governments that nuclear weapons are a legitimate and essential source of security is not only misguided, but also dangerous, for it incites proliferation and undermines disarmament. All nations should reject these weapons completely – before they are ever used again.
This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror. The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now.
We applaud those nations that have already signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and we urge all others to follow their lead. It offers a pathway forward at a time of alarming crisis. Disarmament is not a pipe dream, but an urgent humanitarian necessity.
We most humbly thank the Norwegian Nobel Committee. This award shines a needed light on the path the ban treaty provides towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Before it is too late, we must take that path.

Visit the related web page

Civilians are not a Target
by UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, agencies
Every day, millions of people are trapped in wars that aren’t of their own making. The world isn’t doing enough to stop their suffering. This World Humanitarian Day, we demand world leaders do everything in their power to protect the millions of civilians caught in armed conflict.
Civilians who need urgent humanitarian assistance and protection, as highlighted in the United Nations Secretary-General''s Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.
Civilians in Urban Areas
Picture a neighbourhood filled with homes providing comfort and safe haven, surrounded by bustling markets and shops, schools, playgrounds, hospitals, and factories. Weeks later, what is left is a collection of bombed-out structures in the middle of a war zone. All essential infrastructure and semblance of normal life have been destroyed.
The use of wide-area explosives has left vast damage and destruction, causing profound and long-lasting consequences for people’s safety, livelihood, and basic needs, like food, water, and electric/fuel power. This often leaves people little choice but to flee to safer regions, often exposing them to new dangers.
Rules that must be Respected
All parties to armed conflict are obliged to distinguish between civilians and fighters, and between civilian infrastructure and military targets. They have the obligation not to launch attacks that will cause disproportionate incidental civilian harm, and they must take constant care to spare civilians and infrastructure.
Action required of leaders
In cities and towns, protect civilians, including children, as well as their homes and the essential services they rely on.
Imagine children in the middle of a war-torn country. Their neighbourhoods, schools, playgrounds, and parks have been damaged or destroyed, and access to essentials like food, water, and an education have all but disappeared. They may have even been recruited and used in fighting, or subjected to other unthinkable dangers, such as exposure to sex and labour trafficking.
Rules that must be respected
Children affected by armed conflict are entitled to special respect and protection, including access to food, healthcare, and education; evacuation from areas of combat for safety reasons; reunification with their families; and protection against all forms of sexual violence. Additionally, children must not be recruited into armed forces or armed groups, nor must they be allowed to take part in hostilities.
Action required of leaders
Commit to not recruit children into armed forces or armed groups, or to use children to participate in hostilities. Endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, an international commitment to protect schools and universities from being attacked or used for military purposes in conflict. Make 2017 the year of zero attacks on schools and playgrounds.
Targets of Sexual Violence
There are places in the world where sexual violence is being used as a tactic of war; where women and girls are forced to be with fighters who can resell or exploit them.
Regardless of gender, other unspeakable crimes are being committed, including strategic, widespread rape, many times occurring in urban warfare and alongside other violent acts.
People are often targeted simply because they belong to different ethnic, religious, or political groups. Compounding this is the stigma survivors suffer when society and authorities are indifferent or discriminatory in response to their plight.
Rules that must be Respected
Rape and other forms of sexual violence are prohibited.
Action required of leaders
Prevent all forms of sexual violence. Bring perpetrators to justice for sexual violence and hold them accountable. Offer survivors the opportunities and support that will enable their recovery and reintegration into society.
Humanitarian Workers
Consider the devastating consequences when humanitarian workers are unable to provide aid to those in need. These workers make it their mission to provide life-saving support, but too often in conflict their activities are impeded.
From looting and deliberate obstructions to kidnapping, physical harm and death, violence continues to affect humanitarian efforts, often with dire consequences for those who need help.
Rules that must be Respected
Parties to conflict must respect and protect humanitarian personnel, supplies, and equipment. This includes taking all feasible precautions when planning or deciding to attack.
Furthermore, governments must not arbitrarily refuse impartial relief operations. Once governments agree to relief operations, all parties to conflict must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access.
Using starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare is strictly prohibited.
Action required of leaders
Enable humanitarian workers to deliver relief to all civilians in need, without discrimination based on race, color, sex, language, religion, or other status. Do not direct attacks against humanitarian workers or assets.
Health Workers
Think of wounded and sick people caught in a war zone, all in desperate need of medical attention. Now imagine health workers directly targeted or forbidden to treat them. When health workers are attacked, forced not to treat patients, or left no choice but to flee, it results in immediate death, injury, and destruction of facilities, and in the deprivation of essential healthcare for a very long time.
Rules that must be Respected
International humanitarian law requires that all wounded and sick - civilians and fighters alike - must not be attacked and must receive the medical care and attention required by their condition without any distinction, except on medical grounds. Medical personnel and facilities that fulfil this mission must also be respected and protected.
Action required of leaders
Do not target health workers, facilities, or patients. Respect the right of all wounded and sick persons to receive medical care. Adopt and promote the UN Secretary-General’s recommendations on the protection of medical care in armed conflict.
Forcibly Displaced People
Imagine waking up today, realizing you have to leave your home simply to survive. You’re forced to leave your family, your friends, your job, and your belongings, all at a moment''s notice.
Your daily life becomes a constant struggle to find basics like shelter, food, clothing, water, and safety. This nightmare scenario is a reality that millions of people face in armed conflict.
Intense fighting, often involving air strikes and shelling in cities, is a primary cause of displacement, whether within or across a country’s borders.
While on the move, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees are often exposed to a myriad of other risks, including sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, forced recruitment, and trafficking. Forcibly displaced people are often vulnerable and can remain displaced for decades.
Rules that must be Respected
The right to move freely and to choose one’s own residence must be respected. Forcibly displaced people have the right to seek asylum in another country; to satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety, nutrition, and education; and to have necessary identity documents issued by the authorities.
Family members who wish to remain together should not be separated. Voluntary safe return home must be allowed as soon as the reasons for displacement have ended. Internally displaced people can also choose to resettle in another part of their country. Finally, people who have been forcibly displaced have a right to recover the possessions they had to leave behind.
Action required of leaders
Respect the right of forcibly displaced people to seek asylum outside their country. Answer the UN Secretary-General’s call to reduce internal displacement by at least 50 percent by 2030.
This World Humanitarian Day we are bringing attention to the millions of civilians affected by armed conflict every day. People in cities and towns struggling to find food, water, and safe shelter, while fighting drives millions from their homes. Children who are recruited and used to fight, and their schools are destroyed. Women who are sexually abused by fighters, then shamed by their villages.
As humanitarian workers deliver aid, and medical workers treat the wounded and sick, they are directly targeted, treated as threats, and prevented from bringing relief and care to those in desperate need.
The humanitarian concerns described here can’t possibly capture the lives of all those affected by conflict around the world. From people with disabilities, to the elderly, migrants, and journalists, all civilians caught in conflict need to be protected.
Please sign the petition demanding world leaders do everything in their power to protect all civilians in conflict via the link below:
* United Nations Secretary-General Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) customary international humanitarian law database: Safe Schools Declaration: Recommendations on the protection of medical care: ICRC: I saw my city die: ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview:

Visit the related web page

View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook