The announcement that the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize is being awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) represents a timely recognition of the urgency of ridding the world of these horrific weapons of mass destruction.
Making the announcement, the Norwegian Nobel Committee stated that the award is for ICAN'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." The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, negotiated earlier this year, opened for signature at the United Nations last month.
With headquarters in Geneva, ICAN currently has 468 partner organisations in over 100 countries, including the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
In its response to the announcement, ICAN stated, "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 ... 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."
Commenting on the award, Irish CND chairperson Dr David Hutchinson Edgar said, "It is very exciting to see the work of international campaigners for a world without nuclear weapons receive this kind of prestigious recognition. It is a tribute to the tireless work of activists, researchers, survivors of atomic testing and of the 1945 atomic bombs, and many others who have come together under the umbrella of ICAN to try to bring their vision of a safer, more peaceful world to reality.
"At the same time, the award implicitly acknowledges that the continuing existence of nuclear weapons poses a grave threat to life on earth as we know it. That threat is as great - perhaps greater - today than ever before. Recent belligerent actions and rhetoric from certain states have brought its terrifying reality into focus. They have also shown the utter bankruptcy of the argument put forward by nuclear-armed states that nuclear weapons help keep the world safe: safety laced with the spectre of annihilation is an absurd fallacy.
"We welcome the leading role that Irish diplomats have played in bringing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons into existence, and the fact that Ireland was among the first group of states to sign the treaty. We appreciate the constructive co-operation which took place between the Disarmament Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and civil society organisations, particularly ICAN, during the negotiation process. We look forward to Ireland speedily ratifying the treaty, and hope that our politicians and diplomats will use their influence internationally to promote the urgent need for other states to do so also."