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Anti-nuclear weapons group Ican wins Nobel Peace Prize

Saturday 14 October 2017, by siawi3


Anti-nuclear weapons group Ican wins Nobel Peace Prize

6 October 2017

Media caption: Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair, announces the winner. VIDEO

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican).

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair, said it was due to the group’s “groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty prohibition” on nuclear weapons.

“We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time,” she continued.

She cited the North Korea issue.

In July, after pressure from Ican, 122 nations backed a UN treaty designed to ban and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons. But none of the nine known nuclear powers in the world - including the UK and the US - endorsed it.

Ms Reiss-Andersen called on nuclear-armed states to initiate negotiations to gradually eliminate the weapons.

Ican, a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is 10 years old and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The group will receive nine million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, £846,000) along with a medal and a diploma at a ceremony in December.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the group, told reporters that the prize had come as a surprise but that it was “a huge signal” that the group’s work was “needed and appreciated”.

“The laws of war say that we can’t target civilians. Nuclear weapons are meant to target civilians; they’re meant to wipe out entire cities,” she said, adding: “That’s unacceptable and nuclear weapons no longer get an excuse.”It’s a giant radioactive bomb, it just causes chaos and havoc and civilian casualties. It is not a weapon that you can use in line with the laws of war.

“Every state matters here. The more states that sign and ratify this treaty the stronger the norm is going to get. They’re not moving towards disarmament fast enough.”

The Nobel prize citation read: “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.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has launched a series of rockets and a nuclear test this year, leading to an escalating war of words with US President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump, who commands one of the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenals, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if his country is forced to defend itself or its allies.

Last year’s winner, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, said the peace prize was “like a gift from heaven” as his government tried to negotiate a deal with the main rebel group, the Farc.

The alternative approach to nuclear weapons

Analysis by Jonathan Marcus, BBC Defence and Diplomatic Correspondent

The Nobel Committee’s decision provides a powerful and timely reinforcement of the opprobrium and concern attached to nuclear weapons.

It comes at a moment when North Korea is actively developing its nuclear programme, the fate of the Iran nuclear deal is in the balance, and the US and Russia are both actively seeking to modernise their nuclear forces.

There is of course already the Non-Proliferation Treaty under which most countries agreed never to develop nuclear weapons and those that already had them agreed progressively to disarm.

But campaigners have long been unsatisfied with this process insisting that the nuclear “haves” have no intention of giving up their arsenals. So Ican set about an alternative approach - to raise popular awareness of the issue and to pressure governments to open up a new treaty for signature earlier this year that would seek an outright ban on nuclear weapons.

Who are Ican?

a coalition group supported by hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in over 100 countries across the world
formed in 2007, inspired by a similar campaign to ban the use of landmines worldwide
supporters include actor Michael Sheen, artist Ai Weiwei and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
its lobbying encouraged the UN to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons earlier this year which has been signed by 53 countries so far



Nobel Peace Prize Statement – ICAN UK – 6 October 2017


Oct 6, 2017

Nobel Peace Prize Statement – ICAN UK – 6 October 2017

ICAN UK represents the British-based NGOs who are partners of ICAN, a civil society network of over 450 organisations in one hundred countries.

Dr Rebecca Johnson, an original co-chair of ICAN and member of the International Steering Group based in the UK, said:

“We thank the Nobel Committee for recognising and honouring ICAN and the thousands of people in our international network that have worked so hard to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. The nuclear threats being issued by President Trump and North Korea remind us that nuclear sabre rattling can lead to nuclear war through arrogance or miscalculation. With British civil society at the forefront of nuclear disarmament efforts for so many years, this Nobel Award encourages us to redouble our efforts to persuade the British government to sign the UN Nuclear Prohibition Treaty, cancel Trident and take the lead to eliminate all of these abhorrent weapons of mass destruction.”

Professor David McCoy, physician and former director of Medact, an ICAN-UK partner, said:

“Nuclear weapons are an unacceptable threat to human health and global security – they have no place in the modern world. The UK government should be leading international efforts to get rid of nuclear weapons instead of boycotting them. Health professionals are calling on Government to scrap Trident and spend the money on the NHS.

Richard Moyes, Managing Director of UK NGO Article 36 – part of ICAN’s International Steering Group, said:

“The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize highlights the importance of this new treaty at a time when the threat of nuclear weapons is more pressing than ever in recent decades. ICAN focused attention on the humanitarian impact that the use of these weapons would cause – with just a single weapon threatening to kill and injure hundreds of thousands of people and to poison their environment for the future. Despite the politics of these weapons, the scale of humanitarian suffering that they can cause means they cannot be considered acceptable, and that is why ICAN here in the UK and internationally has worked for them to be banned.”

Kate Hudson of ICAN partner CND said “This Nobel Peace Prize commits all of us to bring the UK on board the historic UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and take the lead by scrapping Trident.”

Please contact Dr Rebecca Johnson, +44 7733 360955 or Clare Conboy, +44 7507 415987 clare




Health Professionals and Nuclear War

by Medact Staff | Jul 16, 2014 | History, Peace & Security

‘We physicians protest the outrage of holding the entire world hostage. We protest the moral obscenity that each of us is being continually targeted for extinction. We protest the ongoing increase in overkill. We protest the expansion of the arms race to space. We protest the diversion of scarce resources from aching human needs. Dialogue without deeds brings the calamity ever closer, as snail-paced diplomacy is out-distanced by missile-propelled technology. We physicians demand deeds which will lead to the abolition of all nuclear weaponry.’

Dr. Bernard Lown, 1985, acceptance speech delivered at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony for IPPNW


Between 1941 and 1945 the US established the ‘Manhattan Project’ at a cost of $ 2 billion (contemporary prices) to develop the world’s first nuclear weapons. These were based on the physics of nuclear fission using uranium for the Hiroshima bomb and plutonium for the Nagasaki bomb. The explosive ‘yields’ for each bomb (pictured below), exploded on August 6th and 9th 1945 respectively, were equivalent to about 16,000 and 21,000 tonnes TNT (16Kt and 21Kt).These remain the only examples of nuclear weapon use in war but graphically illustrated their horrors. About 160,000 people died instantly in the two explosions and by the end of 1945 the death toll was about a quarter of a million although we will never know precisely. Many hundred survivors subsequently developed radiation-related malignancies of which the most poignant were the childhood leukaemias, the incidence of which peaked between 1950 and 1955.

During the early 1950’s the Americans developed the first ‘fission-fusion’ (or thermonuclear) bombs in which a fission reaction is used to prime a much bigger fusion reaction between atoms of tritium and deuterium to produce helium, neutrons and a burst of energy.

Since 1945 there have been many accidents involving nuclear weapons systems; some came alarmingly close to igniting hostilities.

Nuclear weapons tests

Up to the late 1990’s there had been about 2,000 test detonations; over 1000 were conducted by the US, about 750 by the USSR, 210 by France and 45 by the UK. Up to the late 1960’s many tests (about 700) were conducted in the atmosphere. Atmospheric testing stopped after the Partial Test Ban of 1963 came into force, being replaced by underground tests. These are now banned by the Comprehensive Test Ban of 1996 although the US has not yet ratified this as they wish to reserve the right to resume testing as and when required.

World Inventory of nuclear weapons

By the late 1980’s the world’s total inventory of nuclear weapons was about 70,000 – enough to destroy all humankind thousands of times over. Since the end of the Cold War the inventory has declined to about 17,000, but the rate of decline has stalled and there are still far too many; this poses a huge potential hazard to world health. Nuclear weapons continue to be developed and advanced by the five acknowledged nuclear powers (the US, UK, France, Russia and China) and also by Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
What is the connection between physicians and nuclear war?

Health professionals first confronted the medical consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in August 1945, when teams of medical personnel struggled to care for the massive casualties in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the late 1950s and early1960s, doctors studied the radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear test explosions. Examinations of the deciduous teeth of American and European children revealed heightened levels of strontium 90. Other researchers found that after each atmospheric test, radioactive iodine 131 settled on grass on which cattle grazed, and was concentrated in the thyroid glands of children who drank the contaminated milk. Such findings fueled public protests that led to the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

In 1962, a group of American physicians led by Dr. Bernard Lown and including Drs. Jack Geiger, David Nathan, and Victor Sidel analyzed the medical consequences of a nuclear attack. Calling themselves the “Special Study Section of Physicians for Social Responsibility,” they produced a series of papers, “The Medical Consequences of Thermonuclear War,” which were published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The articles and an accompanying editorial argued that physicians had a special responsibility to help prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

In the early 1980s, escalating threats by the US and Soviet Union that they might attempt to fight and win a nuclear war led to the formation of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. IPPNW physicians engaged in a global education campaign about the medical effects of nuclear explosions and warned the public and the leaders of the nuclear superpowers that the medical profession would be unable to provide effective care in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

In 1981, the American Medical Association echoed IPPNW’s assessment, stating “there is no adequate medical response to a nuclear holocaust.” Other national medical organizations, such as the British Medical Association, published detailed studies about the inadequacies of medical care after nuclear attack. The World Health Organization (WHO), the US Institute of Medicine and others added to the medical knowledge about the unique dangers of nuclear warfare. Climate scientists warned that a superpower nuclear war might cause a “nuclear winter” that could threaten the extinction of the human species.

During the 1990s, IPPNW established an International Commission to Investigate the Health and Environmental Effects of Nuclear Weapons Production and Testing and worked with the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research to document these effects. The Commission produced a series of books including Radioactive Heaven and Earth,Plutonium: The Deadly Gold of the Nuclear Age, and Nuclear Wastelands, a comprehensive study of the health and environmental impact of the global nuclear weapons production complex.

The nuclear dangers of the 21st century have led to a resurgence of physician interest in the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear war in a world where nuclear weapons continue to spread. In October 2007, IPPNW and the Royal Society of Medicine co-sponsored a major conference in London to review the current state of knowledge about nuclear weapons effects. Scientific data about the global climate effects of regional nuclear war presented at that conference became the basis of an IPPNW project on “nuclear famine,”which has been used extensively to make the case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. The climate findings and an updated summary of the medical consequences of nuclear war are available in a new IPPNW publication, Zero Is the Only Option: Four Medical and Environmental Cases for Eradicating Nuclear Weapons.

In recent years, IPPNW and its affiliates have drawn new attention to the health and environmental effects of uranium mining and processing, conducting community health surveys in India and challenging Australia’s plans to ramp up its uranium export industry.

IPPNW has also studied a nuclear danger in the medical profession’s own backyard—the use of highly enriched uranium in reactors that produce medical isotopes—and has campaigned for the conversion of those vulnerable reactors to non-weapons-grade uranium.

In October 2008, the World Medical Assembly renewed its own decade-long stance for the abolition of nuclear weapons, stating that the medical profession has a duty “to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons.” The WMA requested that all national medical associations “urge their respective governments to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.”[]

Red Cross physicians participated in the first relief efforts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for a ban on nuclear weapons ever since. In April, 2010 the ICRC issued its strongest condemnation in more than a decade, asserting that “nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power, in the unspeakable human suffering they cause, in the impossibility of controlling their effects in space and time, in the risks of escalation they create, and in the threat they pose to the environment, to future generations, and indeed to the survival of humanity.” []

Awarding the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize to IPPNW, the Nobel Committee honored physicians for “spreading authoritative information and…creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare. This in turn contributes to an increase in the pressure of public opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”



India’s Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) Warmly Welcomes the Award of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN

by admin, 6 October - 6 October 2017

Text of CNDP Statement following the Award of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) with a deep sense of solidarity, warmly welcomes the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). By bestowing this honour the Norwegian Nobel Committee has recognized the landmark contribution of ICAN to the formation of the first ever multilateral “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” that bans the possession, production, use, stockpiling, deployment and transport of nuclear weapons (NWs). In short, the Treaty sets a new international standard for moving towards a nuclear weapons free world. This Treaty will come into force when at least 50 countries sign and ratify it. Already 53 countries have signed and the ratification process has started. Once the Treaty becomes established under international law, all the nine existing nuclear weapons states, including India, will by virtue of this be held guilty of illegal and criminal behavior.

The struggle to end slavery was given an enormous fillip by the prior establishment of a moral-legal principle as to its criminality. In a similar way ICAN realized that helping to create a moral-legal principle would be a major step forward in the struggle to eliminate NWs globally. The existing NWSs which boycotted the UN-supported negotiations to bring about this Ban Treaty now stand rebuked. The award also comes at an opportune time because the new Trump Administration of the US is seriously contemplating walking out of the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework of 2015 between Iran and the P-5 and EU, as well as war-mongering against North Korea, which can only make a bad situation worse. This award recognizes the validity of ICAN’s powerful arguments — the huge human costs of possible nuclear war — for having such a Treaty on humanitarian grounds. Moreover, the Treaty asserts the immorality of nuclear deterrence thinking to justify possessing nuclear weapons in the name of national security. The recognition of ICAN’s work will help to generate wider public awareness of the all-too-real prospect of a nuclear outbreak somewhere, sometime and therefore the vital necessity of citizens everywhere to struggle for a nuclear weapons free world.

Among the most likely sites for such an outbreak to occur is South Asia where India and Pakistan – both nuclearly armed – have been in a state of continuous hot-cold war for 70 years with no end to this in sight. Indeed, the Indian Air Force Chief in a display of nuclear machismo has just publicly stated that India can locate and destroy Pakistan’s nuclear sites, to which his counterpart across the border has responded with equal belligerence.

The CNDP extends its full support to ICAN and other anti-nuclear organizations worldwide in our ongoing collective effort to bring about regional and global nuclear disarmament. In this respect CNDP will work towards creating a broader national platform and action programme to carry on this struggle.

On Behalf of the CNDP

Lalita Ramdas
Achin Vanaik
Anil Chaudhary
Sukla Sen



Nobel Peace Prize winner ICAN has disarmed critics. The nukes are next

Hindustan Times, October 9 , 2017

The peace Nobel to ICAN has disarmed many of its critics. It’s a recognition that ridding the world of nuclear weapons is not an idealist’s fantasy, but a robust action plan

[by] Vidya Shankar Aiyar

A little-known movement for a nuclear weapons-free world won the Nobel Peace Prize last week. The International Campaign to Abolish to Nuclear Weapons, ICAN (, @nuclearban) is a movement of several hundred organisations and individuals spread over a hundred countries. It’s a movement of all the little guys banding together to take on the big bad world of the nuclear armed. Even little guys like me, the lone civil society participant from India at the crucial Geneva debates last summer. It was at Geneva that the resolution to the UN General Assembly was drawn up, that culminated in the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons on July 7.

Ever since I quit TV news in 2008, an inevitable eye roll would follow when I revealed that I work on nuclear disarmament issues. Usually that would be followed by a commiserating, “Oh, zero nukes is a noble goal, but impractical, isn’t it? You should try for smaller numbers.” The peace Nobel to ICAN has disarmed many such critics. It’s a recognition that ridding the world of nuclear weapons is not an idealist’s fantasy, but a robust action plan.

How does it work? When the nuclear armed states are refusing to join the ban treaty, and indeed, the United States is actively discouraging states, how is disarmament possible?

The world of nuclear disarmament has changed tremendously from the days when stodgy, Leftist intellectuals formed its backbone. Now it is mainly a young people’s movement, young people who are armed with social media, incredible energy and the willingness to try the impossible, and they are spread across the globe. ICAN’s women are a tour de force. A cooler set of people would be hard to find. And they have the experience, wisdom and knowledge to back their credentials.

In 1996, the International Court of Justice regretted that no explicit law exists in the world prohibiting nuclear weapons. The ban treaty now plugs that hole. It bans all nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) does not do that. It only allows a few states to keep their nuclear weapons while promising to eliminate them eventually. So, the plan is simple. Stigmatise nukes, then eliminate them. Stigmatise, meaning, keeping nukes will be uncool.

To stigmatise, you only need a law that prohibits nukes. And that law need not be created by the nuclear armed states. The non-nuclear armed states may not have nukes, but they have the numbers to create that law. ICAN launched a campaign that empowered the weak states to take on the Goliath of the nuclear powers by making them believe that non-nuclear states can lead us to a nuclear weapons-free world. Creating the law first and eliminating after that is true of every disarmament treaty in history.

To get such states on board, ICAN chose to campaign on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. This is where ICAN got a lot of help from key states and organisations. Its key events in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna over 2013-14 made it clear that the world does not have the capacity to deal with the fallout of a nuclear war. And the fallout would be global and catastrophic, no matter where the conflict happens. Norway first gave ICAN the platform. Mexico gave it momentum on the American continent. Austria rallied 127 states under the Austrian pledge to disarm. The job was now up to ICAN and its campaigners to move the debate out of the moribund Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to the UN General Assembly, and get these states to put their money where their mouth is. Finally, the ban treaty opened for signature on September 20, and is expected to come into force soon.

No, nuclear weapons will not be dismantled immediately, but give it time like other treaties. Equally, no nuclear-armed State can indefinitely say that nuclear weapons are necessary for its security. That would violate a new law and would incite proliferation. This is the logic that provoked Kim Jong-un to counter Donald Trump’s America. Don’t underestimate the small guys. They’ve disarmed the critics. The nukes are next.

Vidya Shankar Aiyar is an anti-nuclear weapons activist