Exactly two weeks to the day before this interview, Beatrice Fihn received a phone call from Norway. It was the Nobel Committee informing her that the NGO she leads, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
The committee cited ICAN, as the NGO is known, for its work to achieve an international treaty against nuclear weapons. The treaty is often compared to the Landmine Ban Treaty and Convention Against Chemical Weapons in that it invokes broadly humanitarian principles to ban what is an inherently indiscriminate weapon. The treaty was finalized in July and has already gained over 50 signatories from governments, with many more expected in the near future.
What does this treaty hope to accomplish? What logic do Beatrice Fihn and her colleagues use to press their case against countries who include nuclear weapons as part of their national security strategies? How will winning the Nobel Peace Prize affect her organization’s work? Fihn discusses these questions at length, and explains how campaigning to abolish nuclear weapons takes a kind of fearlessness and disregard for traditional power dynamics. (And it’s worth pointing out that this is a treaty that is opposed, at least for now, by all nuclear weapons possessing states.)
We also discuss Beatrice Finh’s life and career and how she first became interested in nuclear issues. It’s an inspiring conversation.
We kick off with a discussion about the moment she learned her organization had won the Nobel Peace Prize.