After too much preamble, he’ll get to the point: You and your organization have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an achievement that puts you in the company of luminaries like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Dalai Lama. And if you’re Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and a 2017 Nobel Peace laureate, you will vaguely suspect the whole thing is a prank.
“It was really a shock,” she says of the call on Oct. 6 revealing that ICAN had been awarded the Peace Prize. “We first thought it was a joke. We had to watch the live Nobel announcement before we celebrated. We wondered if someone might be tricking us.”
You can’t blame her. The Swedish-born activist is just 35, and her decade-old NGO—which is really a loose coalition of 468 organizations with just a handful of staffers of its own— was little known outside the obscure circle of disarmament groups. Yet if Fihn and ICAN’s 2017 Nobel win was a long shot, their ultimate goal seems even more improbable: the elimination of the world’s 15,000 nuclear warheads. “If we keep nuclear weapons around forever, they will be used,” she says. “But we can fix this as an international community.”
FIHN IS AN UNLIKELY LEADER of the campaign. She wasn’t even 10 years old when the Cold War ended, so throughout most of her life, nuclear weapons seemed to be a p