The chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the award had been made in recognition of the group’s 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 modernising their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea,” Reiss-Andersen said.
She called on the nuclear-armed states to initiate negotiations to gradually eliminate the weapons.
ICAN, a coalition of non-governmental organisations in 100 countries dedicated to achieving a prohibition of nuclear weapons, said the “award shines a needed light on the path the ban treaty provides towards a world free of nuclear weapons”.
The organisation said that it was a “great honour” to be recognised for its role as a driving force behind the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted on July 7 with the support of 122 nations.
The treaty prohibits a catalogue of nuclear weapon-related activity, including undertaking development, testing, production, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons.
The US, UK, France, Russia and China — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, all of whom possess nuclear weapons — did not participate in the negotiation of the treaty.
“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,” ICAN said in a statement.
“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,” it added.
The organisation will receive 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million) along with a medal and a diploma during a ceremony in December in Oslo.
The committee that chooses the Nobel Peace Prize winner sorted through over 300 nominations for this year’s award, which recognises both accomplishments and intentions.
The prize announcement came Friday in the Norwegian capital Oslo, culminating a week in which Nobel laureates have been named in medicine, physics, chemistry and literature.