No­bel Peace Prize—the right de­ci­sion

The 2017 No­bel Peace Prize has been awarded to the anti-nu­clear weapons or­gan­i­sa­tion ICAN. It is the right de­ci­sion at the right mo­ment

The Daily News Egypt - - Commentary -

DW—It was clear that the No­bel com­mit­tee would not be able to get around the is­sue of nu­clear weapons this year. Not when North Korea is test­ing long-range mis­siles that can trans­port nu­clear war­heads half­way around the globe. Not when US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­sponds by pour­ing oil on the fire and threat­en­ing Py­ongyang with to­tal de­struc­tion. Not when the painstak­ingly ne­go­ti­ated Iran nu­clear deal is look­ing in­creas­ingly frag­ile be­cause that same pres­i­dent doesn’t like it, even if he can’t ar­tic­u­late ex­actly why. Now more than ever, the is­sue of nu­clear weapons is at the fore­front of global so­ci­ety.

Fa­vorites for this year’s prize were those in­volved in the Iran nu­clear deal—Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, for ex­am­ple, or EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini. But such a choice was not with­out flaws. The nu­clear deal has con­trib­uted greatly to global sta­bil­ity, even if some ide­o­logues refuse to ac­knowl­edge it. But Zarif be­longs to a regime un­der which tor­ture, il­le­gal jail­ings and ex­e­cu­tions are part of ev­ery­day re­al­ity.

Realpoli­tik over vi­sion

Giv­ing the nod in­stead to the In­ter­na­tional Cam­paign to Abol­ish Nu­cle­arWeapons is the less prob­lem­atic choice, and the right one.The prize is go­ing to an in­ter­na­tional al­liance of ac­tivists ded­i­cated to global nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment.And they've al­ready got some suc­cesses to show for their ef­forts. It was in large part due to pres­sure from ICAN ac­tivists that 122 na­tions backed a UN treaty to ban and even­tu­ally elim­i­nate nu­clear weapons.

How­ever, a world free of nu­clear weapons, as was the stated dream of 2009 No­bel Peace Pr win­ner Barack Obama, re­mains a dis­tant goal.And not just be­cause of politi­cians like Kim Jong Un and Don­ald Trump who con­tinue to build their ar­se­nals, but also be­cause there are too many states who share the am­biva­lence of the Ger­man govern­ment—even if Ger­many,for good rea­son, does not have any nu­clear weapons.That am­biva­lence was ev­i­dent in the Ger­man govern­ment’s con­grat­u­la­tory state­ment. “The fed­eral govern­ment sup­ports the goal of a world with­out nu­clear weapons,” a govern­ment spokes­woman said, ad­ding that Ber­lin nonethe­less stands by its re­jec­tion of the UN treaty to ban such weapons in fa­vor of the con­cept of nu­clear de­ter­rence. In­stead of be­ing vi­sion­ary, that sounds a lot like Realpoli­tik.

ICAN Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Beatrice Finh is much more un­equiv­o­cal. “Is it ac­cept­able to kill hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple, or not? If not, then nu­clear weapons must be banned,” she said.This is the bar by which the world’s lead­ing politi­cians should be mea­sured—and not just in re­mem­brance of the vic­tims of Hiroshima and Na­gasaki, but in the de­sire to avoid any fu­ture vic­tims.


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