A plea from Nobel Peace Prize winners


A joint statement from Dmitry Muratov, journalist (2021 Nobel Peace Prize) and Beatrice Fihn on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (2017 Nobel Peace Prize)

Right now, we see nuclear tensions heightening to the most threatening levels seen in modern times. Vladimir Putin has made threats to launch nuclear attacks and raised the offensive and defensive nuclear mobilisation alert to its highest level since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He has joined forces with another dictator, Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, to attack Ukraine in violation of international law including the UN Charter, and pave the way for Belarus to host Russian nuclear weapons.

As recipients of the 2017 and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, we warn about the unprecedented risk to international peace and security posed by the menace of nuclear weapons, and the urgent threat created by Putin’s reckless action and rhetoric.

The fate of humanity today rests on the rationality of a few leaders who control nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons, a terrifying force powerful enough to destroy the earth many times over. The use of just one nuclear weapon could kill and injure hundreds of thousands if not millions of civilians and poison the environment with radiation that lingers for generations. There is no adequate health response to this catastrophe. That’s why the majority of the world’s nations adopted the first international treaty banning nuclear weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) for which ICAN was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

Russia’s recent nuclear escalations have brought us to a more dangerous level of nuclear threat than we have witnessed since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Russia must take urgent steps to de-escalate the situation.

Specifically, Russia must:

  • rescind Sunday’s order to raise the alert level of nuclear forces
  • withdraw from Ukraine and return to compliance with the UN Charter;
  • commit to never deploy nuclear weapons in Europe;
  • eliminate its nuclear weapons.

People across Russia, across Europe and across the world are standing in the streets demanding an end to this illegal and unjust war, demanding their voices be included in the conversation about the future. Nuclear weapons prevent that conversation from taking place, they prevent the democratic will of the people, and their voice, from being represented in decisions around their own future.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use persists. The world cannot continue to hold its breath and count on the good sense of the handful of world leaders with the power to destroy us all. We must eliminate these weapons of mass destruction. We urge all governments to join the TPNW without delay. We urge them to choose peace over war and reason over madness. We urge them to support democracy and freedom of speech all over the world. The time to act is now. We may not survive the next nuclear crisis.

Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov (pictured) is a Russian journalist, television presenter and the editor-in-chief of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He was awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Maria Ressa for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” Beatrice Fihn is the executive director of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. Headline photo of Muratov by Michał Siergiejevicz/Wikimedia Commons.

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