Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the organisation.

She accepted the prize at a ceremony in Oslo at which she gave a prescient speech about the danger of nuclear weapons. She said that the the deaths of millions may be one tiny tantrum away. “We have a choice, the end of nuclear weapons or the end of us,” she added.

Fihn delivered the Nobel lecture with Setsuko Thurlow, an 85-year-old survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and and ICAN campaigner.

The organisation which she runs was formed in 2007. It highlights the humanitarian risk of nuclear weapons. It is a coalition of hundreds of NGOs working together to implement a treaty which will ban such weapons. The treaty is now open for ratification and will become international law after 50 countries sign it.

Highlights from the Nobel lecture

Fihn said that the risk of such weapons being used is greater today than during the Cold War. She also highlighted how irresponsible leaders can come to power in any nuclear state. “A moment of panic or carelessness, a misconstrued comment or bruised ego, could easily lead us unavoidably to the destruction of entire cities,” Fihn said.

She said that the agreement provides a choice. “It provides a choice. A choice between the two endings: the end of nuclear weapons or the end of us,”she said.

“We will not rest until all states have joined, on the side of reason,” Fihn said. She asked India to “choose sense over senselessness” and Pakistan to “choose logic over Armageddon”.

Thurlow also joined in and spoke about her memories of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima. She said that she was rescued from a collapsed building, but most of her classmates were burnt alive.

“Processions of ghostly figures shuffled by. Grotesquely wounded people, they were bleeding, burnt, blackened and swollen,” she said.

“Parts of their bodies were missing. Flesh and skin hung from their bones. Some with their eyeballs hanging in their hands. Some with their bellies burst open, their intestines hanging out. The foul stench of burnt human flesh filled the air.”

Beatrice Fihn: The humanitarian

Fihn studied at the University of Stockholm and received her bachelor’s degree in international relations. She earned her Masters of Law degree from University College London. She has worked at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) where she managed the disarmament program.

Also Read: Nobel Prize Winners: What’s the count of women laureates?

Picture Credit: AP news

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