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Congratulations on winning the Nobel Peace Prize!

Secretary General of NPA, Henriette Killi Westhrin (left) and Senior Advisor on Weapons Policy and board member of ICAN, Grethe Østern are cheering as the UN Treaty for the abolishment of nuclear weapons was adopted on 7 July 2017 . Photo: Thea Mjelstad


Norwegian People’s Aid is the only Norwegian organisation represented in the board of ICAN, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2017.

This prize will be celebrated with gratitude to all those who have contributed to the realisation of the nuclear ban in the UN, says Henriette Westhrin, Secretary General in NPA.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of 468 non-governmental organisations in 101 countries. ICAN was officially launched in Vienna, Austria in 2007 to build a powerful global groundswell of public support for the abolition of nuclear weapons – a goal that was accomplished when the UN Treaty for the abolishment of nuclear weapons was adopted on 7 July 2017.

Being awarded the Nobel Peace Price shows the enormous impact of a well-organised civil society. We have just spoken to our colleague Grethe Østern, who is currently working from ICAN’s head office in Geneva. She reports an ecstatic atmosphere, says Westhrin.

Disappointing stands from Norway

Today the world is witnessing a new nuclear race to decide who has the most credible nuclear deterrence. The threat of use of nuclear weapons is considered larger than during the Cold War. Westhrin thinks the price is a timely reminder about how essential nuclear disarmament work is.

- It is deeply disappointing that Norway refuses to sign the nuclear ban treaty. Our hope is that the price will lead to a shift in the Norwegian Government’s policy on the nuclear issue that will result in them signing the treaty, says Westhrin.

She emphasises that Norway’s own defence is based on an acceptance for an ally to threaten with- and potentially use nuclear weapons on Norway’s behalf.

- We keep hearing the same reasoning from the Norwegian Government: signing the nuclear ban is not compatible with our NATO membership. This is not correct. One of the most loyal things Norway can do as a NATO member, is quite the contrary - lead way in the alliance by challenging old myths about nuclear weapons keeping us safe, Westhrin says.

No right hands for nuclear weapons

About 15,000 weapons are spread among nine states in the world today.

- There are no right hands for nuclear weapons. Not Iran, not North Korea, not Russia, not the USA. As long as nuclear weapons exist, it will be impossible to prevent usage. The nuclear ban is a very diplomatic, political and legal tool to accomplish international stability and security, says Westhrin.

NPA were invited to join ICAN’s international board and the work to ban nuclear weapons due to our expertise from the diplomatic processes to abolish landmines and cluster munitions. We are today represented in ICAN’s board by Grethe Østern, who currently works from ICAN’s head office in Geneva to support the staff there, consisting of 2,5 people.

Read more about ICAN here: http://www.icanw.org