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International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) wins Nobel Peace Prize

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The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to an international watchdog that campaigns to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won “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,” the Nobel committee said in a statement.

The prize was awarded by a committee of five people chosen by Norway’s parliament.

It comes as the United States and North Korea are engaged in a tense standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, and as speculation intensifies that President Trump could be preparing to abandon a two-year-old nuclear deal with Iran.

Last year’s accolade was given to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end.”

Officially, the names of nominees are meant to be kept secret for at least 50 years, but names do get leaked, often by overzealous nominators. Often, they are inaccurate.

Each year, Norway’s Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) draws up its own shortlist based on its own assessment of qualified and deserving candidates.

For 2017, PRIO had identified what it felt were five possible winners:

  • Mohammad Javad Zarif and Federica Mogherini (Iran nuclear deal)

  • UNHCR and High Commissioner Filippo Grandi (Europe’s refugee crisis)

  • Cumhuriyet and Can Dündar (Press freedoms in Turkey)

  • The Economic Community of West African States (African democracy)

  • The White Helmets and Raed al Saleh (Syrian civil war)

No pontiff has ever won the prize, but Pope Francis was also favored by bookmakers. In recent years, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been seen as worthy candidate for her decision to open her country’s borders to more than 1 million refugees since 2015.

Technically, anyone can get nominated by an eligible nominator. These are usually distinguished academics, heads of research institutes, politicians or former laureates.

History has delivered a few suspect nominees, Adolf Hitler notably, in 1939. For the past two years, Donald Trump’s name has made it onto the list.

Between 1901-2016, 97 Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded. Other stats related to the prize: 2 have been been divided between three persons; 16 women have been recipients; 62 is the average age of laureates the year they were awarded the prize; 1 winner, Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, declined the prize; 3 winners were under arrest at the time of the award: German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky, Burmese (now Myanmar) politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.

This year’s award comes amid debate about whether Suu Kyi — who won the prize in 1991 — should be stripped of the honor. The de facto leader of Myanmar has drawn condemnation for her defense of her country’s treatment of its Rohingya population, a minority Muslim group. Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in the thousands for neighboring Bangladesh amid atrocities in Rakhine state.

Friday’s announcement caps a week in which Nobel laureates have been named in medicine, physics, chemistry and literature.

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