President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Honorary Ambassador of The ATOM Project Karipbek Kuyukov along with the international organisation Global Zero have been nominated for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Director of the Basel Peace Offices (BPO) Alyn Ware from Switzerland submitted the nominations, according to a February 26 posting on his Facebook page. “I am submitting a nomination for two individuals and one organisation, each of which is making a significant and complementary contribution to public awareness and political processes for nuclear disarmament,” Ware said in his official letter.
According to Ware, nuclear weapons are primarily a political weapon, not one currently used in the battlefield. As such, there is no single approach to eliminating the threat. Success in achieving nuclear abolition will require a combination of approaches, some emphasising the inhumanity and illegality of nuclear weapons, others emphasising the economic and political costs, and others emphasising the possibilities to achieve security without relying on nuclear deterrence.
“President Nazarbayev stands out as a leader who has taken a number of significant nuclear disarmament initiatives during his 22 years as leader of Kazakhstan. … He not only has a commitment to the achievement of a nuclear-weapons-free world, but continues to take a number of initiatives that are influential in the process to achieve such a world. A Nobel Peace Prize would enhance the influence and support these processes globally,” Ware said.
In his letter, available at www.nobelwill.org, Ware listed several of Nazarbayev’s contributions to the global nuclear disarmament process which he said merit the recognition. These include closing the Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk; foregoing the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal to become a nuclear-weapon-free country [the nomination says “third largest” whereas in effect Kazakhstan’s arsenal used to be the world’s fourth largest, smaller than those in Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine]; leading the negotiations for the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Central Asia; establishing the UN International Day Against Nuclear Tests; hosting a number of international conferences on nuclear abolition; initiating the Universal Declaration for a Nuclear-Weapons Free World which has now been adopted by the United Nations; launching a Manifesto for the 21st Century which outlines a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the United Nations; addressing military spending and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including a challenge to all governments to contribute one percent of their military spending to meeting the SDGs; pledging action on nuclear disarmament in the UN Security Council, where Kazakhstan has a non-permanent seat from 2017-2018; and launching the Nazarbayev Prize for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World and Global Security.
“Kuyukov is a hero of the nuclear age who is highlighting the tragic experience of his region in Kazakhstan – devastated by the long-term effects of Soviet nuclear tests. The ATOM Project, which he leads, informs the world of the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons and the imperative for nuclear abolition. A second-generation victim of nuclear tests, Karipbek was born with severe health complications, including being born with no arms. He has overcome these to become a renowned painter (using his feet and mouth) – including paintings depicting the nuclear testing in his region. Karipbek speaks at key events in the United Nations and around the world, telling story after story of the families that are still being severely impacted by birth defects, cancers and other health effects,” he added.
The letter also notes Global Zero leaders include very influential legislators and former officials from the nuclear armed and allied states. They produce influential reports and hold effective consultations and meetings in the capitals of nuclear-armed states. Global Zero youth have been instrumental in raising the issue through social media, at international conferences, in mainstream media and most recently in the U.S. presidential election campaign, where they managed to raise the nuclear weapons issue in town hall meetings with most of the presidential candidates.
In addition, Member of the Scottish Parliament Bill Kidd also nominated Nazarbayev and Kuyukov for their dedicated and effective actions to highlight the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, as well as for their leadership in promoting a nuclear-weapons-free world, www.nobelwill.org reported.
“Nuclear weapons are recognised as the most extreme form of violence. They are the most destructive of all weapons in terms of their explosive force, the poisons they release (radiation) and the long-term and severe impact on human health and the environment, including their potential for catastrophic climatic consequences,” Kidd noted in his application to the Nobel Peace Committee.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all my friends for kind words and congratulations,” Kuyukov wrote in his Facebook account having received hundreds of congratulations from people around the world upon the news of his nomination. “I always say that I am proud to live in a country that was one of the first states to renounce nuclear weapons. Everyone knows the role of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk Antinuclear Movement, headed by Kazakh poet Olzhas Suleimenov. Our President signed a decree to close the Semipalatinsk Test Site after 40 years of nuclear tests. The Atom Project, initiated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, continues the peaceful policy of Kazakhstan. This recognition actually goes to our people, and especially the decent work of our heroes: the President, writers, scholars, doctors, teachers, journalists and the art community of Kazakhstan. Each of them has contributed to the prosperity of our state, and we should be proud of this and keep striving for even higher level. My mission on Earth is to do what I can do and if it brings some benefit to my country, my family and everyone who knows me, it means that I do not live in vain.”
The BPO is a joint initiative of the Canton of Basel, University of Basel Sociology Seminary, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Global Security Institute, Middle Powers Initiative, World Future Council, IPPNW Switzerland and the swisspeace Foundation.
The ATOM Project is an international campaign designed to create awareness surrounding the human and environmental devastation caused by nuclear weapons testing. The ATOM Project seeks to affect real and lasting change by engaging millions of global citizens to permanently stop nuclear weapons testing by joining together to show the world’s leaders that the world’s citizens deserve and demand a world without nuclear weapons testing, according to www.theatomproject.org.