On 4 August 2022, The International Peace Bureau awarded the 2019 Sean MacBride Peace Prize to Elayne Whyte Gomez at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Despite winning the award in 2019, the current global health emergency – Covid-19 made it very challenging to award Elayne this deserving Prize at the time. The time however, is always right to do the right thing. Three years later, we are still happy to honor Elayne Whyte for her distinctive achievement and contribution to a nuclear free world.
Elayne was elected President of the United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination On 16 February 2017 . Her leadership at the UN conferences negotiating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons from March to July 2017 was a background of the success of the Treaty. The negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion in July 2017 and opened for signatures in September 2017 at the United Nations Headquaters in New York. The treaty currently has 86 signatories and 66 state parties.
During her acceptance speech, Elayne described her experience at the TPNW conference as “a transformational experience” which taught her about “human resolve and conviction… just as much as the difficult legal procedural matters in negotiations and intercultural affairs”. She then concluded by challenging everyone to ask themselves what would become of the world in the year 2045 (the 100 anniversary of the start of nuclear era). “What would that day look like?” She asked. “Would we have survived as humanity? Would we continue being lucky that no new nuclear explosion has happened? Would we have used our human agency to control the technology we create and not to perish by it? Alexander Kmentt, Director of Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation also highlighted the state parties’ determination to fight “until the last warhead has been dismantled and destroyed”
The Keynote speakers were Reiner Braun – Executive Director of International Peace Bureau, Thomas Markram – Director and Deputy to the High Representative, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Alicia Zakre-Sanders – Policy and Research Coordinator, ICAN, Kunihiko Sakuma – Chair of Hiroshima Hidankyo, Alexander Kmentt – Director of Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation, Austrian Foreign Ministry and Joseph Gerson – President of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, and Vice President of International Peace Bureau.
Watch the award ceremony here: