This is a guest post from Rebecca Gibbons, a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bowdoin College.
On Sunday, December 10, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will accept the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for calling attention to the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear use and for promoting the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
This movement grew out of great frustration with a lack of progress on nuclear disarmament through traditional channels such as the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament. After nuclear weapons possessors in the NPT failed in 2005 to re-commit to disarmament promises they had agreed to previously, a leader from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War—itself a Nobel Peace Prize winner—sought to found a new umbrella organization devoted to developing a convention against nuclear weapons. He envisioned an international campaign that would operate similar to the one that had banned landmines and suggested calling this new organization the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons with the acronym ICAN. ICAN began in Australia in 2006 and was launched internationally in 2007. In a decade’s time, this group succeeded in pushing forward a multilateral treaty banning nuclear weapons and winning a Nobel Peace Prize. In my research on ICAN, I have identified five reasons for this movement’s success in achieving a nuclear prohibition treaty earlier this year. Continue reading