Among 318 nominations, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2017. The ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations in 100 countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty. The campaign was born in Melbourne and officially launched in Vienna in 2007. Last month, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was opened for signature at United Nations headquarters on 20 September 2017. So far, 53 countries have signed the treaty with three countries ratifying it.
“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,” said Norway’s Nobel committee president Berit Reiss-Andersen. Furthermore, Reiss-Anderson noted that similar prohibitions have been reached on chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions. Hopefully, nuclear weapons would be the next to be eliminated.
Nuclear weapons holders claimed that these weapons are merely for national security purposes and that, without nuclear weapons, they would be vulnerable to attacks. However, it seems that they overlooked the accompanying risks of this nuclear mentality. More than 70 years have passed since atomic bombs were used on Japan in World War II. No one doubts the destroying power of nuclear weapons. Not only do they demolish humanity, but they affect the environment and other organisms that share our planet. Moreover, these detrimental impacts perpetuate through generations. Physically deformed organisms are still routinely found in Japan today.
Despite the destructive power of nuclear weapons, they have not been made the object of international legal prohibitions. Unfortunately, our efforts to counteract this impending danger have been insufficient thus far.
The success of previous weapon ban conventions can be a model for activists to emulate. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), adopted in 1992, aims to outlaw the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. As of 2016, 192 states have entered the treaty. Roughly 93% of the world’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons had since been destroyed. Although a number of multilateral, anti-nuclear treaties have been established, more time is needed to conclude whether these conventions are successful – given the reluctance of many dominant states.
In 1996, the Canberra Commission stated that as long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a strong risk that they might be used one day. It is only a matter of time until these weapons come into place and threaten humanity on a global level. So far, countries who have signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are not nuclear weapon possessing states. The majority of them are developing countries with less bargaining power on the realm of politics. Rather than enhancing national security, nuclear weapons threaten world order and disrupt peaceful, diplomatic relations among countries. The current situation will stagnate unless the nine nuclear weapon states become responsive to the inferences of experts and work out measures to slowly eliminate nuclear threat.