ICAN Campaigners Kit

Over the past few years, ICAN has grown exponentially. With more than 360 organizations in 93 countries, ICAN has become a stronger, broader, more professional campaign. We have achieved major results, and our successes have attracted more organizations willing to join our cause. The outcome of the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is a powerful reminder of what civil society can achieve if works in a coordinated, forward-looking way.

The aim of achieving a treaty banning nuclear weapons is not an easy task. However, it is not impossible – it can and it will be achieved if civil society remains focused and works together.

Other campaigns have paved the way and have strengthened the conviction that unacceptable weapons can and must be outlawed. Their successes have shown us what a coordinated coalition of organizations can achieve. This is the reason why we have asked successful campaigners and experts who have followed other processes to share the lessons they have learned with us.

This campaigners kit is a toolbox where we have explored different elements of international and national campaigning. We hope that their hands-on experience will be useful in your daily work.

Our hope is to make the Campaigners Kit as useful and relevant for campaigners as possible. We welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can improve it.

If you have recommendations do not hesitate to write to

Download the full Campaigners Kit here

+ Foreword


by Jody Williams

Creating sustainable peace is not attained by contemplating a dove flying over a rainbow while singing peace ballads.  Sustainable peace with justice and equality must be built on a strong foundation of human security, not national security – a security based on meeting the needs of people and not one that focuses primarily on the defense of the apparatus of the state.

Too often the images of the dove, the rainbow, and the guitar-strumming “peacenik” are used to trivialize the work of those who believe in the possibility of peace and are willing to work for it.  Creating the elements of sustainable peace comes from a long-term commitment to tackling the underpinnings of a world-view that accepts and promotes war as a heroic endeavor rather than recognizing the resource and power grabbing horror that it is.

Tackling that world-view has to be the collective action of civil society.  No one individual changes the world on his or her own.  No matter what anyone says.  Alone, thinking about all of the challenges in today’s world, can be completely overwhelming and, worse, disempowering.  But when we choose to work together in coordinated action toward achieving a common goal, there is little that we cannot accomplish.  Each and every one of us has the power to contribute to lasting change.

When we choose to use that power together in collective action we can make the seemingly impossible possible.  The accomplishments of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines are a powerful demonstration of “people power.”  The goal of attaining a treaty banning antipersonnel landmines was once called a utopian dream.  It became reality in 1997 because over 1,300 nongovernmental organizations in about 90 countries around the world had come together in a global coalition of coordinated action to push countries to do what they should have done on their own – ban landmines.

Other, similar coalitions have followed suit.  In 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munitions became reality.  In 2013, the Arms Trade Treaty was successfully negotiated.  And in April 2013, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots was launched with the goal of banning fully autonomous robotic weapons that would be able to make target and kill decisions on their own.

Coalitions work – even against seemingly impossible odds.  The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is turning old ways of looking at banning nuclear weapons on their head and is helping move the world closer to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.  The Campaign is taking on recalcitrant world powers head on and refusing to let them continue to control the debate.

Bringing about change is hard work; it is not impossible work.  It takes NGOs and civil society working together in strategic, coordinated action, and partnering with like-minded governments and international organizations to make a vision reality.  Change does not happen simply because we wish it would.  It is the result of the hard work of millions of people around the world – every single day.

Building sustainable peace is not a utopian dream.  It is possible.  It is a wondrous adventure to be part of making that change happen.

+ About a ban

Download the PDF here

Download the Word file here

+ Changing the discourse about nuclear weapons

Download the PDF here

Download the Word file here

+ Global Coalitions

Download the PDF here

Download the Word file here

+ Building a national campaign

Download the PDF here

Download the Word file here

+ Handling the media

Download the PDF here

Download the Word file here

+ Social media

Download the PDF here

Download the Word file here

+ International Lobbying

Download the PDF here

Download the Word file here

+ Conclusions

By Beatrice Fihn

When you think about it , it is quite remarkable that the most powerful weapon the world has ever known  – the one with the unmatched ability to wreak uncontrollable and indiscriminate destruction and which nearly everyone agrees should be banished from this earth  – is still legal . It’s almost as if we forgot to ban nuclear weapons. The use of a nuclear weapon on a major populated area would immediately kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of people—women, men, and children. Hundreds of thousands might be alive—but severely injured. Blinded, burned, crushed. The immediate effects of even a single nuclear weapon are shocking and overwhelming. Its destructive force is capable of nightmarish scenes of death, despair and suffering. They go far beyond what is considered acceptable, even in the context of war.

The Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo held in March 2013, concluded that it would not be possible to coordinate and deliver any meaningful humanitarian response to a catastrophe brought about by nuclear weapons. No international organization or state could adequately deal with the situation. This much is clear.

The time has come for a prohibition on nuclear weapons. Civil society is ready. Civil society has struggled for a long time with this issue. It’s not an easy task we have ahead of us. There are those who will seek to thwart and undermine our efforts; they will say that our focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is a distraction, that our goals are unrealistic and impossible, even undesirable.

It’s a good thing that we know panic when we see it – and those that would seek to slow us down are

definitely panicking. In the last years we have seen the rebirth of a seminal idea – a ban on nuclear weapons. In order to reach our goal, ICAN campaigners around the world need to work hard and work together.

We have to be relentless and effective in our campaigning to spur governments to act. We can prevent a humanitarian disaster from a nuclear weapons detonation, but we need to mobilize now. A treaty banning nuclear weapons is achievable. It can be initiated by states that do not possess nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed states should not be allowed to prevent such negotiations. Campaigning for a ban on nuclear weapons might appear hard at times. It might seem hopeless and unrealistic. But a ban on nuclear weapons is coming because ICAN campaigners have decided to make it happen.

And from experience, civil society can be extremely powerful when we work together, in an organized way. Through effective mobilization, civil society has overthrown governments, blocked destructive international agreements, and created multilateral treaties, international law and courts to enforce it.

We can ban nuclear weapons, and by mobilizing on all levels, through international diplomacy, on a national level, through traditional media and social media, we will make it happen. Let ’s get it done. Let ’s ban nuclear weapons.

Comments are closed.

  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s act up! Ban nuclear weapons completely and unconditionally.”

    Ai Weiwei Artist and activist

  • sheen

    “If Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, they would be part of ICAN.”

    Martin Sheen Actor and activist

  • bankimoon

    “I salute ICAN for working with such commitment and creativity.”

    Ban Ki-moon Former UN chief

  • yokoono

    “We can do it together. With your help, our voice will be made still stronger. Imagine peace.”

    Yoko Ono Artist

  • jodywilliams

    “Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”

    Jody Williams Nobel laureate

  • desmondtutu

    “With your support, we can take ICAN its full distance – all the way to zero nuclear weapons.”

    Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate

  • herbiehancock

    “Because I cannot tolerate these appalling weapons, I whole-heartedly support ICAN.”

    Herbie Hancock Jazz musician

  • dalailama

    “I can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and I support ICAN.”

    Dalai Lama Nobel laureate