Sounding alarm for a decade

Nuclear disarmament group ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn poses in front of her office after ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for its decade-long campaign to rid the world of the atomic bomb as nuclear-fuelled crises swirl over North Korea and Ir
Nuclear disarmament group ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn poses in front of her office after ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for its decade-long campaign to rid the world of the atomic bomb as nuclear-fuelled crises swirl over North Korea and Iran, on Oct 6, 2017 in Geneva.PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA • The Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, known by the acronym Ican, has been sounding the alarm over the massive dangers posed by nuclear weapons and campaigning for a global ban for the past decade.

"This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth," a statement from Ican said yesterday.

The group also said the Nobel award was a tribute to the two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were attacked with American atomic bombs at the end of World War II.

Founded in Vienna in 2007 on the fringes of an international conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Ican has tirelessly mobilised campaigners and celebrities alike in its cause.

From its offices in the buildings of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Ican works with 468 non-governmental organisations across 101 countries, including rights, development, environmental and peace groups.

The anti-nuclear movement was fragmented a decade ago, according to Ican executive director Beatrice Fihn, who said the organisation was created to help a vast array of groups push for a ban similar to the global agreements forbidding the use of biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions.

Ican argues that any use of nuclear weapons would lead to catastrophic consequences for which there could be no effective humanitarian response, and so eliminating them is the only way to prevent their use.

The organisation today gets by on an annual budget of around US$1 million (S$1.37 million), and is funded by private donations as well as the European Union and countries including Norway, Switzerland, Germany and the Vatican.

But while it may not have a lot of resources at its disposal, Ican does have many of the world's famous and powerful championing its cause. The Dalai Lama, Yoko Ono and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu are among those voicing support for its mission on its website.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Sounding alarm for a decade'. Print Edition | Subscribe