Anti-nuclear campaign ICAN wins Nobel Peace Prize

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, is pictured with the logo of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, who is the winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, on October 6, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Anti-nuclear campaign ICAN wins Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO: Nuclear disarmament group ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its decade-long campaign to rid the world of the atomic bomb as nuclear-fueled crises swirl over North Korea and Iran.
More than 70 years since atomic bombs were used on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Nobel committee sought to highlight ICAN’s tireless non-proliferation efforts.
The decision sent a strong message to nuclear-armed nations at a time when US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up a 2015 deal curbing Iran’s nuclear abilities and who last month alarmed delegates at the UN General Assembly by warning he may be forced to “totally destroy” North Korea over Pyongyang’s atomic weapons program.
ICAN “is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons,” said Norwegian Nobel committee president Berit Reiss-Andersen in announcing the prize in Oslo.
“We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time,” she said.
But she stressed that the committee’s decision wasn’t aimed at any particular world leader, adding: “We’re not kicking anyone’s leg with this prize.”
Founded in Vienna in 2007 on the fringes of an international conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, ICAN (the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) has mobilized campaigners and celebrities alike in its cause.
It was a key player in the adoption of a historic nuclear weapons ban treaty, signed at the UN by 122 countries in July.
However, the accord was largely symbolic as none of the nine known world nuclear powers put their names down. It still needs to be ratified before entering into force.
ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs, says its main objective is the adoption of an international treaty banning nuclear weapons, along the lines of earlier agreements forbidding the use of biological and chemical weapons, land mines and cluster munitions.
Reacting to its win, ICAN said the “moment is now” to push for a total nuclear arms ban.
“This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who... have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth,” it said in a statement.
ICAN’s high-profile supporters include form UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.
Although global atomic weapons stockpiles have plummeted — from around 64,000 warheads in 1986 at the height of the Cold War to more than 9,000 in 2017 according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists — the number of nuclear-armed nations has grown.
Friday’s award — the climax to a week of prize-giving honoring the world’s leading lights in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine and literature — comes as Iran’s nuclear deal is under increasing pressure from Trump.
The US leader has threatened to bin the agreement altogether, saying Tehran is developing missiles that may be used to deliver a nuclear warhead when the deal’s restrictions are lifted in 2025.
Tensions have also soared between the US and North Korea, which has test-fired two missiles over Japan and conducted a string of apparent underground nuclear tests this year.
“This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror,” ICAN said.
The UN welcomed ICAN’s win on Friday, with spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci telling reporters in Geneva that the prize was a “good omen” for the ratification of a nuclear ban treaty.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini also congratulated ICAN, tweeting: “We share a strong commitment to achieving the objective of a world free from nuclear weapons.”
The Nobel committee has rewarded anti-nuclear weapons drives on several previous occasions, handing out the prestigious prize to Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov in 1975, the international non-proliferation IPPNW group in 1985, and the IAEA’s then head Mohamed ElBaradei 20 years later.
More than 300 people and organizations were thought to have been nominated for this year’s Peace Prize, including the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR, Syria’s White Helmets rescue service and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege.
The Peace Prize, which comes with a gold medal and a cheque for nine million Swedish kronor (943,000 euros, $1.1 million) will be presented in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish philanthropist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.


Imran Khan elected prime minister of Pakistan

Updated 55 min 10 sec ago
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Imran Khan elected prime minister of Pakistan

  • Khan received 176 votes in the 342-seat National Assembly; Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), garnered 96 votes
  • Pakistan People’s Party with 54 seats backed out of supporting opposition's candidate Shabaz sharif , weakening the position of the PML-N, which has 81 seats

ISLAMABAD: Members of Pakistan’s freshly elected national assembly voted in favor of Imran Khan to take the country’s most powerful position as its new Prime Minister crushing his opponent Shahbaz Sharif on Friday.

Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) received an impressive 176 votes in the 342 seat lower house of parliament. His rival Sharif, younger brother of imprisoned ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif and president of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) received 96 votes.

The result announcement by the speaker of the house rattled lawmakers of PML-N sparking a loud protest against Khan’s victory as unacceptable repeatedly chanting “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif” who was judicially ousted from the premiership last year and is serving time in prison on corruption charges.

Meanwhile PTI lawmakers rejoiced and congratulated Khan who remained calm amid the strong protest by his rivals which continued despite requests by the speaker Asad Qaiser for silence forcing him to temporarily suspend the assembly session.

Amid unrest, the new Prime Minister addressed the national assembly members following resumption of the session by the speaker.

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READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Pakistan PM contender Imran Khan pledges stronger ties with Saudi Arabia

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"I did not climb on any dictator's shoulders; I reached this place after struggling for 22 years. Only one leader struggled more than me, and that was my hero, Jinnah. Twice every month I will answer to the people during the question-answer session in the assembly", said Khan and vowed to bring promised change the country desires.

"We have to have strict accountability in this country; the people who looted this country, I promise that I will work against them" and “the money that was laundered, I will bring it back — the money that should have gone towards health, education, and water, went into people's pockets" Khan pledged in continuation of his anti-corruption campaign.

He briefly centered his attention towards the protesting opposition and reminded them of their failure to address his concerns when he raised his voice against election rigging during the PML-N government following 2013 general elections.

Khan told the PML-N leadership that his government would cooperate with them if they chose to take rigging allegations to court and would provide food, water, and containers if they opted to stage demonstrations against his ruling coalition.  

The PTI won the July 25 election with 116 seats in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

The party took in independent candidates and formed an alliance with other political parties, putting it above the threshold required for a majority in the assembly, said PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry.

Candidates backed by the PTI and its coalition partners won the key positions of the speaker and deputy speaker of the house on Wednesday, dealing another blow to the 11-party opposition alliance

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), with 54 seats backed out of supporting Sharif’s candidacy, weakening the position of the PML-N, which has 81 seats.

In response Sharif also reminded the new premier of his earlier commitment. "You had said that if rigging in 2013 elections would be proven, Nawaz Sharif's government should resign. We will not let you run from this. We will hold you accountable for stealing votes" firmly said Sharif and continued his diatribe over systematic election rigging hurling accusations.

The first time member of the national assembly, Bilawal Bhutto, the young Chairman of PPP maintained posture and decorum during the session. He challenged Khan on his words to the nation and said, "our prime minister-elect has promised a 100-day roadmap. I want to see how he creates 10 million jobs, ends poverty" and asked the new premier “what his plan will be to deal with the economic crisis" which the new government is likely to seek a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund, a door Khan had vowed not to knock for help regardless.