Since 2007, the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association has nominated individuals and institutions that have, in the previous 12 months, advanced effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions and raised awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.
In a field that is often focused on grave threats and negative developments, our Arms Control Person(s) of the Year contest aims to highlight several positive initiatives—some large, some small—designed to advance peace and security.
This year's nominees are listed below. All of the nominees have, in their own way, provided important leadership that helped reduce weapons-related security dangers during the past year.
The ballot and list of 2020 nominees is available at armscontrol.org/acpoy.
Voting will take place between December 22, 2020 and January 13, 2021. The results will be announced on January 15, 2021. Follow the discussion on Twitter at #ACPOY2020.
The 2020 nominees are:
Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani of Indonesia and Ambassador Abdou Abarry of Niger who, in August and September 2020 as rotating presidents of the UN Security Council both made the decision not to recognize the U.S. claim to re-impose of sanctions on Iran under the terms of UNSCR 2231, which endorses the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (a.k.a. the Iran nuclear deal). The decision by the UNSC presidents, which was informed by the other JCPOA participants, upheld the majority view that the U.S. effort had no legal basis, especially in light of President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the deal in 2018, and asserted that full compliance with the JCPOA remains essential for international peace and security.
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins and Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security for catalyzing support and action from leaders and practitioners in the national security and foreign-policy communities to increase diversity into their ranks and boards of directors and pursue concrete steps to “root out institutional racism” in the governmental and nongovernmental sectors in the field. Following the wave of protests against police killings of George Floyd and other Black people in 2020, WCAPS organized a solidarity statement endorsed by leaders and individuals from 150 organizations and launched working groups to develop concrete strategies and tools to attack the problem.
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), and Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) and others for responding to reports that the Trump administration was considering resuming U.S. nuclear testing for the first time in 28 years by introducing separate pieces of legislation to prohibit the use of prior years or fiscal year 2021 funds for such a test and to establish a rigorous congressional approval and review process to guard against any unilateral move by the president to resume nuclear testing. Titus and others successfully persuaded House appropriators to deny funding for the purpose of a nuclear test, and by vote of 227-179, the House passed an amendment to the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to bar the use of funds for nuclear testing.
The Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for adopting a decision in July addressing the possession and use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. That decision calls on Syria to declare the totality of its chemical weapons stockpile and to return to compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) within 90 days. Although Syria failed to meet the 90-day deadline the decision marked the OPCW's most punitive action toward Syria in response to the Assad regime's continued use of chemical weapons since Syria acceded to the CWC in 2013 and the bulk of its stockpile was removed and eliminated under international supervision.
Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) for introducing and seeking to advance complementary legislation that would supplement and extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which compensates individuals who contract cancer or other diseases as a result of their exposure to radiation during nuclear testing undertaken by the United States during the Cold War. The legislation would increase the amount of compensation provided to individuals exposed to radiation and expand the terms of eligibility to include additional downwinders of past U.S. testing.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres for his high-profile call in March for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world “to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives—the Covid-19 pandemic.” In July, the UN Security Council overcame disagreements and finally adopted a resolution (UNSCR 2532) demanding an "immediate cessation of hostilities" in conflict zones around the world.
The pursuit of effective arms control comes in many forms. In this most unusual year of 2020, the Arms Control Association also wishes to note these important efforts:
- The Mayors and the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, helped the world and the remaining Hibakusha observe the solemn 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of their cities and amplify appeals for action toward the prohibition and elimination all nuclear weapons.
- The untold numbers of people working in the corridors, offices, and in the field in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic for national governments, the United Nations, and intergovernmental organizations, including the IAEA, CTBTO, and OPCW, in the service of peace and international security. Special appreciation also goes out to the work of the technical and support personnel involved in treaty verification and monitoring and demining under even more difficult conditions than usual.
For everyone who has contributed to a safer world, we thank you and wish you good health.
* Rep. Paul Gosar, previously nominated, has disqualified himself from consideration for his tacit support of the Jan. 6. violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.