Nobel Peace Prize scooped by group fighting to abolish nuclear weapons

GEORGIA FORRESTER
Last updated 18:13 07/10/2017
DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

Thomas Nash is one of thousands of people to work on a campaign against nuclear weapons. The campaign has just won a Nobel Peace Prize.

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An advocacy group's long fight to ban nuclear weapons is in the spotlight after being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded the prize after its group of Geneva-based activists was recognised for its role in pushing for a United Nations treaty declaring the weapons illegal.

People all over the world have been involved in the campaign, including New Zealander Thomas Nash.

Nash, a Green Party candidate from Palmerston North, was just one of thousands of people involved in the campaign.

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This year, the ban was adopted by the UN, something Nash said he was proud of.

"I feel like this is a prize that's going to a campaign that thousands and thousands of people throughout the world have put in a lot of effort for."

More than 100 countries have signed the treaty, but not countries such as Russia, Britain, China, North Korea and the United States.

Nash's passion for activism stemmed from a young age. He was raised in a pretty active family, he said.

His first major protest came about as a high school student in 1995 when he travelled to France to protest against nuclear testing in the Pacific.

In the years after university, Nash got a job working as the assistant to the New Zealand ambassador for disarmament.

During a two-year stint in Geneva, Nash came across an activist group that was  successful in its campaign to ban landmines.

He took inspiration from the group and got involved in a campaign against cluster bombs – "nasty weapons", he said.

When fired by tanks or dropped by planes, cluster bombs open and multiple mini-bombs are released, which can cause a vast amount of damage.

An international treaty came into force against the use of cluster bombs in 2010.

It had since been signed by about 130 countries, he said.

Nash's latest success was his involvement in the campaign against nuclear weapons.

In 2011, the Palmerston North man co-founded Article 36 – a not-for-profit organisation against harm caused by certain weapons.

Nash and Article 36 joined the steering group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons a year later.

Nash said he was only one of the thousands of people to work hard and fight for nuclear weapons to be abolished.

Nash has since moved back to Palmerston North and  entered politics.

He said he hoped the prize offered some hope to people during a time  when there was a lot of conflict in the world.

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"No matter how bad we think things are and no matter how much we think we can't change things – the evidence from this is that we can. You can change things."

- Stuff

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