The Norwegian Nobel Comittee on Friday named the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) as the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The committee said ICAN had received the prize for "its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons."
"We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and there is a real danger that more nations will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth," the Nobel Committee said.
It added: "It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor."
The committee also emphasized that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN was meant to send a signal to nuclear-armed states to consider their responsibilities with regard to disarmament.
Coalition of grassroots groups
According to its own description, the Geneva-based ICAN brings together grassroots non-government groups in more than 100 nations to form a coalition. It started off in Australia, and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.
In an interview with the news agency AFP this week, ICAN chief Beatrice Fihn said there was an urgent need to get rid of nuclear weapons.
"Nuclear weapons have the risk of literally ending the world," she said.
"As long as they exist, the risk will be there, and eventually our luck will run out."Read more: Nuclear weapons: Who are the world's haves and have nots?
Each prize is worth 9 million kronor (â‚¬944,597, $1.1 million). The prize ceremonies take place annually in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, except that for the peace prize, which is held in Oslo, Norway.
With the exception of the prize for economics, which is to be awarded next week, all the Nobel prizes were established by the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833-96), the inventor of dynamite.
Last year's Nobel Peace Prize went to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end the long civil war in his country.
This year, the five-member Nobel Committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, sorted through 318 nominations, including 215 individiduals and 103 organizations. It does not release the names of nominees for 50 years.
The prize honors not only accomplishments, but also intentions in the field of peacemaking.