2016 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year Nominees Announced

For Immediate Release: December 8, 2016

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext 107; Shervin Taheran, research assistant, (202) 463-8270 ext 103.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Each year since 2007, the Arms Control Association has nominated individuals and institutions engaged in advancing effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions and/or raised awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.

This year’s nominees has, each in their own way, provided leadership to help reduce weapons-related security threats.

Online voting will be open from December 8, 2016 until January 5, 2017. The results will be announced January 9, 2017.

The 2016 nominees are:

  • Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) for calling attention to the negative security and humanitarian impact of U.S.-supplied weapons and ammunition in the ongoing Saudi military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. In September, the Senators forced a high-profile debate and vote on an amendment, which was voted down, that would have blocked the latest, $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry for his continuing efforts to raise attention to the risk of renewed nuclear weapons competition and calling for restraint. He launched a new online course on nuclear weapons, and through numerous public appearances, op-eds, and in his book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, Perry has warned that “… far from continuing the nuclear disarmament that has been underway for the last two decades, we are starting a new nuclear arms race” with Russia. Perry has been outspoken in his call for phasing-out U.S. nuclear-armed, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and has urged President Obama to put in motion other nuclear risk reduction steps in his final months in office.
  • Diplomats from the U.S. and New Zealand Missions to the United Nations for leading the Security Council to adopt Resolution 2310 and reinforce the global norm agains nuclear testing on Sept. 23, the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the treaty. Among other elements, the resolution recognizes that any nuclear test explosion would violate the object and the purpose of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), calls for prompt action toward the entry into force of the treaty, and a report in 2017 from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization on the status of assessed contributions and any additional support provided by State Signatories for the completion of the Treaty’s verification and monitoring regime.
  • Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen of Denmark for coordinating and leading a multicountry operation to remove prohibited chemical weapons materials from the Libyan port of Misrata to Bremen, Germany for destruction. The operation removed last remnants of Libya’s chemical weapons program, removing the threat that the precursor chemicals could be captured and weaponized by a militia or terrorist group. A Danish ship collected the chemicals; the United Kingdom provided a military escort ship; Finland, Italy, and the United States provided additional support.
  • The foreign ministers of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa for successfully advancing Resolution L.41 at the UN First Committee “to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The resolution was adopted on Oct. 27 by a margin of 123-38, with 16 abstentions. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Brazil’s permanent representative to the UN, said: “Such a treaty is not an end in itself nor a panacea to cure an otherwise ailing regime. It will be thoroughly compatible with the [nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty and the wider nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Further efforts needed to attain the complete elimination of nuclear arsenals can be pursued either within a framework laid out by the prohibition treaty … or in parallel to it.”
  • Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier for his 2016 initiative to re-launch conventional arms control in Europe "as a tried and tested means of risk-reduction, transparency, and confidence building between Russia and the West." The proposal has won the support of 14 European foreign ministers who issued a joint statement in November pledging their support “... for an in-depth and inclusive debate on the future of conventional arms control in Europe through an exploratory, structured dialogue. A central forum for such a dialogue is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe."
  • Author Eric Schlosser and Director Robert Kenner for the 2016 film documentary Command and Control, which tells the riveting story of nuclear weapons accidents and near-misses that are documented in Schosser's book of the same title. The film provides a new and accessible vehicle to alert the public about the ongoing dangers posed by nuclear weapons.
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, for achieving a revised peace agreement with the FARC guerillas on Nov. 12. After the original accord was narrowly defeated in a national plebiscite in October, Santos renegotiated the pact and secured concessions from the the FARC that opponents had sought. If approved by the legislature, the accord will set into motion the disarmament of the largest irregular army in the Americas, bring an end to more than half a century of civil war, and contribute to control of the illicit trade in small arms. For more information, see: http://colombiapeace.org/.
  • The government of Marshall Islands and its former Foreign Minister Tony de Brum for pursuing a formal legal case in the International Court of Justice in The Hague against the world's nuclear-armed states for their failure to initiate nuclear disarmament negotiations in violation of Article VI of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law. The people of the Marshall Islands were subjected to 67 U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests explosions from 1946 to 1958. India, Pakistan, and the UK were the only states to participate in the lawsuits because the others do not recognize the court’s compulsory jurisdiction to mediate disputes between states. In October, the 16-member court issued their rulings, which upheld the arguments of the nuclear states in two 9-7 votes in the cases of India and Pakistan and in an 8-8 vote in the case of the UK. See: https://www.armscontrol.org/ACT/2016_11/News/Marshall-Islands-Lose-Nuclear-Cases.
  • Investigators from the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) who determined after a 15 month investigation that Syrian government forces were responsible for using chlorine gas in attacks on villages in 2015 and in 2014. The JIM also found the Islamic State group responsible for the use of sulfur mustard in one specific attack in August 2015. The use of chlorine gas, a choking agent, and sulfur mustard are prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Damascus acceded to the CWC in 2013, giving up its major stocks of chemical weapons and precursors in a U.S.-Russian-brokered deal to avoid threatened U.S. airstrikes against the regime headed by Bashar al-Assad. In response to the JIM findings, the OPCW’s 41 member Executive Council voted to “hold accountable” every actor involved in the attacks and demanded that the Syrian government comply with further inspections of Syrian military sites that were involved in launching the attacks. See: “UN Extends Syria CW Investigation,” Arms Control Today,December 2016.

Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" include: Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (2015); Austria's Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Ambassador Alexander Kmentt (2014), Executive-Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo (2013); Gen. James Cartwright (2012); reporter and activist Kathi Lynn Austin (2011), Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov and Thomas D'Agostino, U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator (2010); Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) (2009), Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad (2008), and U.S.Congressmen Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) (2007).