Beavis, Margaret: A Nobel Peace Prize born in Australia

Margaret Beavis

A Nobel Peace Prize born in Australia‘, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2017 updated

Discusses the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to an Australian-founded organisation.

The winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), started in Melbourne. It began when the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) recognised that nuclear weapons, the very worst of the weapons of mass destruction, were still “legitimate”. This contrasted with chemical weapons, biological weapons, cluster munitions, land mines – even dumdum bullets, which all have been made illegal by UN treaty, with impressive results.

Dr Beavis contrasts the recognition of ICAN with the failure of the Australian government to sign up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in July this year.

For more, see ICAN’s Tim Wright in Guardian Australia. On the Australian failure on the nuclear vote, see Ramesh Thakur. And First Dog on the Moon. ABC interview Genevieve Jacobs with Tilman Ruff, instrumental in founding of ICAN in 2007 (from mark 17.00). Fairfax editorial commending the award. Open letter in Fairfax on foreign and defence policy, signatories including members of Australians for War Powers Reform, ICAN, IPAN, MAPW and Honest History. Long article in the Washington Post.

Buzzfeed on the lack of recognition of the award from the Australian government, in contrast with the prime minister’s fawning over an Australian playing ice hockey in the United States. Sue Wareham op ed in Fairfax makes the same point, as does Beatrice Fihn from ICAN.

This is the first Nobel peace prize to have its roots in Australia [says Wareham]. A first in other fields, such as sport, would almost certainly elicit at least a “congratulations” from our leader, if not something more effusive, but not on this occasion. It seems peace is something different. Turnbull acknowledged the campaign’s commitment but reiterated his government’s view that the United States’ nuclear weapons help keep us safe …

The Prime Minister can withhold whatever common decencies he likes from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; it’s the choice he makes on this question that really matters. We can choose to be on the right side of history or we can continue to impede this critical and long overdue progress towards eliminating the only weapons that threaten our planet.

Fihn from ICAN said:

Australia claims to be committed to a world without nuclear weapons and here’s an Australian-born campaign that has won the Nobel peace prize for the fight against nuclear weapons; it seems a bit silly that they can’t even congratulate us … They [the Australian government] should at least welcome people mobilising against nuclear weapons, because what are the other options? That we mobilise people in favour?

Dr Margaret Beavis is president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and a board member of ICAN Australia. Dr Carole Wigg, a committee member of Honest History, is also a member of MAPW, as is Dr Sue Wareham, a former Honest History committee member and one of our distinguished supporters.

 

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