An international group that campaigns to eliminate nuclear weapons won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, warning the world about the growing risks of nuclear weapons amid escalating threats from North Korea.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, was recognized "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 of such weapons," the committee said.
The award to the Geneva-based nongovernmental organization follows the adoption in July of a landmark U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. ICAN led efforts in campaigning for the treaty, working with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons requires ratification by at least 50 nations to come into force.
ICAN was praised for having given "efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor," the committee said in a statement, referring to the NGO's leadership in efforts to prohibit nuclear weapons under international law. The group organized events worldwide to rally support for their cause.
"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," ICAN said in a statement.
The award also serves as a tribute to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, known as hibakusha in Japanese, and victims of nuclear tests around the world, the group said.
"We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea," the committee said.
The committee warned that the world faces a greater risk of the use of nuclear weapons, saying "nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition." ICAN, it said, has "helped to fill this legal gap."
Urging nuclear-armed states to be involved in steps toward realizing a nuclear weapon-free world, the committee said, "This year's Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world."
ICAN, founded in 2007, is a coalition of NGOs and made up of about 470 groups, with Japan's Peace Boat one of its major steering group members.
"By acknowledging the significance of the treaty, this prize will encourage governments that have not yet signed or ratified it to do so," Akira Kawasaki, a member of the Peace Boat Executive Committee and ICAN International Steering Group, said in a statement released by his group.
Nuclear-armed nations including the United States and Russia did not join the U.N. negotiations on the treaty. Japan, one of the countries that rely on the U.S. nuclear deterrence for protection, also did not participate.
Responding to the announcement of the award to ICAN, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Japan shares the goal of nuclear abolition but differs in its approach to achieve it.
ICAN will receive prize money of 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million).