Human rights and international law expert Professor Hilary Charlesworth, says that Australia's appointment to the UN Human Rights Council gives the country an opportunity to examine its own human rights record.
Associate Professor Tilman Ruff from the Nossal Institute for Global Health has played a crucial role as Founding Chair of ICAN, an international coalition described by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as “the leading civil society actor in the endeavour to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law”.
A number of other University academics have contributed to the campaign, including Emeritus Professor Fred Mendelsohn, Professor Richard Tanter and Professor John Langmore who have played key leadership roles. Tim Wright, ICAN’s Melbourne-based Campaign Director, is also a Melbourne alumnus.
The late former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was also a keen supporter, helping to launch the campaign and serving as its first Patron.
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis says it is an honour to congratulate Professor Tilman and his colleagues, who feel passionate about nuclear weapons proliferation and have been prominent and consistent voices seeking change.
“The award of a Nobel Peace Prize, just 10 years after the group was formed, shows how grassroots non-government groups can influence global policy,” Professor Davis says. “To foster an international consensus against their use is a rare and important achievement.”
Associate Professor Ruff says that the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2017 to ICAN is a timely wake-up call.
“Nuclear weapons are effectively global suicide bombs. They pose an existential threat to all humanity and our living planet,” Associate Professor Ruff says.
This is the first Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to an organisation founded in Australia. ICAN was founded in Melbourne, and now includes 468 partner organisations in 101 countries.