This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for the crucial role the coalition played in the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations.
Development and Peace’s partner PAX has been a driving force of the ICAN network and is a member of its steering committee. PAX is a peacebuilding organization that works with committed civilians and partners in conflict zones to protect human security, prevent and end armed violence, and to build peace with justice.
It works on the root causes of war and conflict by addressing underlying themes, such as ‘natural resources and conflict’ and ‘security and disarmament.’ It has worked for decades on the total ban of nuclear weapons, which led it to be part of the ICAN campaign. It reinforces its work on disarmament through grassroots initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and tolerance between citizens.
One such program is Kulluna Muwatinun (We are All Citizens), which PAX runs in Iraq and Syria, and is supported by Development and Peace. The program seeks to ease tensions between ethnic, religious and class groups by training young people to engage in civil and political dialogue within their communities on topics related to citizenship, minority rights, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, and raise awareness of their peers towards discrimination and violations experienced by members of minority groups.
It has trained hundreds of young community leaders and activists from diverse backgrounds who are now working for peace in their respective countries by organizing multi-ethnic and multi-religious youth groups in their respective communities that take part in activities together, which helps to build common understanding through positive interactions. These youth leaders also participate in international peace campaigns, particularly when the United Nations takes positions on issues that directly affect the lives and rights of Syrians and Iraqis.
In choosing ICAN, the Nobel Prize Committee is sending a powerful message that the only way to deal with the threat of nuclear weapons is to ban them outright. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by 122 countries at the United Nations in July, and 53 countries have already signed it. Once 50 countries have ratified the treaty, it will go into force. Canada did not participate in negotiations of the treaty and as such did not support its adoption or sign it.
In response to the news of the prize, PAX said the following: “This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror. The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now.”
In addition to its leading role in ICAN, PAX makes a key contribution to the nuclear disarmament movement by coordinating the only global study on the relationship between nuclear weapon producers and the banks, insurance companies, and pension funds that provide them with operating capital. The annual “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” report also provides updated information on contracts between countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that make the key components needed for nuclear weapon lethality. This publication encourages a growing number of financial institutions to break ties with the nuclear weapons industry and the associated potential for the violation of international humanitarian law.
PAX’s work is amplified by the advocacy that it does at both the international and national levels, and through its membership in Pax Christi, an international global peace movement that Development and Peace is also part of.
Development and Peace warmly congratulates PAX for its tireless efforts for building peace.