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Not an image anyone ever wants to see anywhere but in a photograph. But the risk of nuclear war grows stronger as two bellicose leaders taunt each other. Photo: Colourbox

We’re all worried about nuclear war, including the Nobel Peace Prize committee

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. In view of inflammatory statements by Donald Trump about the size of his “nuclear button”, an NTNU political expert says the message the Nobel Committee tried to send is more important than ever.

On 6 October, Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen went to the lectern and announced the recipient of the year: the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The organization was awarded the prize for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

“We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater it has been for a long time,” Reiss-Andersen said in her remarks on the rationale for the award.

Clear signal

Torbjørn Lindstrøm Knutsen, professor of political science in NTNU’s Department of Sociology and Political Science, believes that the choice of ICAN is a clear signal to several heads of state.

“It’s first and foremost a signal to North Korea, but also to Donald Trump and his administration, that they have to pull themselves together. North Korea’s nuclear weapon development and the reaction in the United States and by Donald Trump, along with the great uncertainty this has created internationally, have driven the committee to this decision,” Knutsen said.

Almost legally anchored

Knutsen also noticed that this year’s recipient choice was closely linked to Alfred Nobel’s will.

“I can’t remember any other election when the recipient has been so explicitly anchored in Nobel’s will. A lot of previous awards have been criticized because some people thought the committee failed to respect the criteria that Alfred Nobel included in his will. This time the committee has chosen an organization that promotes fraternity among nations, works vigorously for nuclear disarmament and arranges peace conferences. The choice of ICAN is practically legally rooted in Nobel’s will,” says Knutsen.