Ten years after being founded by Physicians for Social Responsibility's international federation (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War), the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their successful efforts to establish the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Starting in 2007, ICAN mobilized over 400 NGOs from 100 countries to advocate for a ban on nuclear weapons at the international level. Health professionals from Physicians for Social Responsibility helped by presenting scientific data on the medical consequences of nuclear weapons at intergovernmental conferences and at the 2017 U.N. Treaty negotiations. 122 countries (not including the U.S. or other nuclear-armed states) voted to ban nuclear weapons on July 7, 2017.
“This is an incredible and much-deserved honor for ICAN,” said Kelly Campbell, Executive Director of Oregon PSR. “Dangerous threats of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea, as well as reports that Trump may try to decertify the Iran deal have increased the urgency of addressing the massive public health risk of nuclear war. The Nobel Peace Prize renews the ethical call for all nations, including the United States, to lay down their nuclear arsenals.”
“It is outstanding to see ICAN recognized with the world’s highest peace award,” said Elaine McKenzie, RN, MPH, Board Member and Chair of the Peace Work Group of Oregon PSR. “ICAN’s successful efforts to pass the United Nations’ ban on nuclear weapons is inspiring to peacemakers everywhere. I am proud to be associated with the health providers around the world who have played a role in spreading the message that we must protect human health by ending the threat of nuclear war.”
Oregon PSR advocates for peace and nuclear disarmament on the local scale. We are currently accepting applications for our 2018 writing scholarship with the prompt: “What would it take to eliminate nuclear weapons in your lifetime?” Oregon 11th and 12th graders are eligible to enter and win up to $1,000 in scholarship funds. The scholarship honors the late Del Greenfield, who worked tirelessly for peace and justice in the Portland area for decades.
In August 2017, we hosted a commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and worked with the City of Portland to declare the day "Nagasaki Day for Nuclear Weapons Abolition."
The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize marks the second time that a nuclear weapons abolition group started by health professionals has won the esteemed award. In 1985, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War won the prize for "a considerable service to mankind by spreading authoritative information and by creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare." The 2017 Norwegian Nobel Committee stated that ICAN "is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”