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LAST_UPDATEFri, 27 Oct 2017 9am

M’sian Man’s Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons Wins The Nobel Peace Prize

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the Nobel Peace Prize last Friday, October 6, in Oslo.

The Nobel Committee honoured the Geneva-based organisation with 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 on such weapons,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairman of the Nobel Committee, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Reiss-Andersen also reportedly said that the risk of nuclear weapon being used now has been greater than it has been for a long time, with some states modernising their nuclear arsenal and there is also a real danger that more countries might try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea.

The recognition given by the Nobel Committee greatly elated those involved in the effort to eradicate the use of nuclear weapons, including Datuk Dr Ronald McCoy, who is the former co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

“We’re all very elated at this recognition of years of work, although ICAN has only been in existence for 10 years. There’s still a long way to go, obviously,” the Seremban-born Dr McCoy said in an interview with Malay Mail Online.

Dr McCoy was also the person who proposed the idea of ICAN to his IPPNW colleagues shortly after the failed 2005 review of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“We can call it an International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, with the acronym ICAN. Let’s start working on this right now,” he had written.

ICAN was later launched by the IPPNW in 2007 in Vienna, which has now become the main civil society vehicle for nuclear abolition and comprises 468 non-governmental organisations from about 100 countries.

On July 7, 2017, a decade after ICAN’s launch, the United Nations (UN) adopted a new treaty called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans the use, development, testing or storing of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, that Malaysia also signed.

It was seen as a significant milestone to the seven decades’ effort to prevent a nuclear war since World War II in 1945 when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki although nine states with nuclear bombs — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK and the US — had not participated in the negotiations.

With the support of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Dr McCoy had commented that ICAN was able to highlight the significant impact that nuclear weapons have on humanity and that it is not purely a security issue as he stressed that they could wreak “total global destruction” if countries start to engage in nuclear wars.

“There will be a swift destruction and the black soot from these explosions will go into the atmosphere, block out the sun and we would have what is called a nuclear winter. All the crops will perish and we will die of starvation,” he told MMO.

As the nine nuclear powers boycotted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Dr McCoy said that residents of the respective countries now need to play a part in highlighting to their government that they were in possession of “illegal” nuclear weapons.

“So we now have that political and moral pressure to rid the world of nuclear weapons,” said the 87-year-old.

-mD