This year’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) culminated decades of work by citizen groups worldwide.
Recognizing that today’s nuclear weapons would cause geometrically greater economic, health and environmental devastation than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ICAN and other non-government organizations helped develop treaties greatly reducing the arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, and promoted diplomacy to prevent nuclear war.
ICAN brought together 122 nations to pass the 2017 U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Already signed by 53 nations, it announces an international ban on nuclear weapons, prohibiting their development, production, possession, use and threat of use.
As a member of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, one of two local organizations involved in ICAN, I recognize that many people have lost track of these issues. As citizens, we are obligated not only to be informed but to work toward preventing nuclear war.
The Nobel Committee declared that next steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons must involve actions by the nuclear-armed nations. This prize is a call to eliminate the global stockpile of nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons. It is our civic responsibility to act.