Pax Christi International congratulates ICAN on 2017 Nobel Peace Prize


News that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is being welcomed by peace campaigners around the world.

In a statement Pax Christi International said:

Pax Christi International is very pleased that ICAN has been recognised through the Nobel Peace Prize for its many years of striving to draw attention to the disastrous humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and for its admirable work in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted at the UN this July. The treaty bans the use, threat of use, production, development, stationing, and testing of nuclear weapons.

ICAN, which is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year, is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in one hundred countries. Pax Christi International, as well as its member organisations around the world, are part of the campaign, participating in national and international advocacy with governments and involving national and international church leaders.

"The winning of the Nobel Peace Prize is high praise for ICAN's achievements towards a world free of nuclear weapons as well as a signal to UN states to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as soon as possible," said Greet Vanaerschot, Secretary General, Pax Christi International. "Once the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the treaty will enter into force, so we hope that this prize can give the necessary push for more states signing and ratifying the treaty."

Our movement is encouraged that with this award the Norwegian Nobel Committee is also recognising the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the hibakusha - and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world. The survivors are a unique and deeply inspiring voice for everyone involved in ICAN, including the membership of Pax Christi International. The award amplifies the survivors' insistent calls for urgent action.

The nuclear armed states have a responsibility to also take steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons.

"The decision by two-thirds of UN members to ban nuclear weapons because of their indiscriminate impact reinforces the urgent need for collective action. Now it's time for nuclear armed states to join this historic process," Vanaerschot continued.

The winning of the Nobel Peace Prize gives ICAN great stimulus to continue to strive for the signing and ratification of the new UN treaty, to find ways to raise the ban constructively with its opponents and to follow up on its implementation once the treaty enters into force. There is still a lot of work ahead, so the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize by ICAN comes at a very timely moment.

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."

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