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Nobel Prize winner ICAN Germany says work 'under the radar'

October 6, 2017

ICAN Germany spokesperson Anne Balzer said the award is an honor and a sign of recognition for the organization's work toward nuclear disarmament. It is also a slap in the face for Washington, she told DW.

ICAN Germany protest

DW: First off, I would like to congratulate you for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons' (ICAN) winning this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Anne Balzer: Thank you. You are the first call. We are still trying to let it all sink in.

How did you find out about the Nobel committee's decision?

We were watching it live, because various peace organizations had proposed us to the committee, but we could hardly believe it. There were so many other candidates that have also been engaged in peaceful politics for years. 

Why is ICAN the right award recipient at this point in time?

If you look at the tension between North Korea and the USA, then you can clearly see that now is the right time. The situation verbally escalates every day. And this award shows that honor is being paid to the 123 nations that took a step in the opposite direction in July, a step in the direction of disarmament and policies of peace. With the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons they even stepped up against the United State's dominate game of scaremongering over North Korea.

Anne Balzer spokesperson for ICAN Germany
Image: Ican Germany

What is the status of this treaty? Has it already entered into force?

The treaty is currently in the process of being ratified. It was publically released shortly before being signed. And that is also a signal to states that are perhaps not yet sure how they can implement the treaty.

Your work normally flies under the radar of public attention. What is the feeling like now?

It is a feeling of recognition. We have been working since 2007, and, yes, mostly under the radar. Even in July, when the nuclear prohibition treaty was adopted, media attention, at least German media attention, was focused on the G20 protests [in Hamburg]. It was really hard to just get our message across. The committee's decision today is naturally an honor, and it recognizes the whole process.

An honor for you. And also a slap in the face of Washington D.C.?

Definitely a slap in the face for Washington. But also for Russia and North Korea. 

Ms. Balzer, thank you for the interview!

Anne Balzer is the press spokesperson for ICAN Germany.

Peter Hille Bonn 0051
Peter Hille Peter Hille is a multimedia reporter with a strong background in African affairs@peterhille