A noble objective

 07 Oct 2017 - 13:24

The Peninsula

The Norwegian Nobel committee doesn’t always get it right; so we have great success stories, disappointments and what a news agency called ‘in-betweeners’ among the past Nobel peace prize winners. The Nobel committee, with the heavy load of global expectations resting on their shoulders, has always tried to do their best, though experts and ordinary people didn’t always agree with them. But the committee’s decision to give the coveted Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) this year has won a great degree of appreciation. After all, there is no greater enemy to peace than nuclear weapons, and there is no bigger enemy to humanity than nuclear weapons. Any attempt to rid the world of this threat must be welcomed with open arms.

The chair of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the award had been made in recognition of Ican’s work “to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.  The Nobel committee spoke the most painful truth when it said “the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time” and there was “a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea”. ICAN is a global movement that has fought to ban nuclear arms from the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. It’s a coalition of non-government groups working in more than 100 nations, which began in Australia and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.

The Nobel committee deserves praise for pushing to the forefront of public discourse an issue that has been giving us the jitters. By rewarding the ICAN for its great work, it is sending a powerful message to countries and people who have the brutal power to plunge this world again into darkness and misery. And ICAN understands this message more than anyone. Speaking after the Norwegian Nobel committee announced its decision, Beatrice Fihn, the group’s executive director, said Trump “puts a spotlight” on the dangers of nuclear weapons. “The election of President Donald Trump has made a lot of people feel very uncomfortable with the fact that he alone can authorise the use of nuclear weapons,” she told reporters in Geneva. According to her, the award sends a message to all nuclear-armed states that “we can’t threaten to indiscriminately slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians in the name of security”. With North Korea threatening to unleash its nuclear weapons and Trump threatening to destroy North Korea, and Trump threatening to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal, the world has become less safe.