The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is excited to announce that Melissa Parke, a former United Nations legal expert and Australian government minister, will be taking on the role of Executive Director on 1 September 2023. Ms Parke has over two decades of experience in the fields of international development, human rights, law, and politics, and has served as an ICAN Australia ambassador, in which capacity she has championed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) since 2017.
President of ICAN, Akira Kawasaki welcomed Ms Parke’s appointment: “We are delighted to be able to announce Melissa Parke as our new Executive Director. She has great diplomatic and political experience combined with a long-term commitment to nuclear disarmament, so she is ideally placed to lead ICAN’s advocacy for the universalization of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which is what the world needs as it faces the heightened risk nuclear weapons could be used in conflict for the first time since 1945.”
Ms Parke brings to the position of ICAN's executive director a combination of leadership, diplomatic, conflict-resolution, managerial, political, and legal skills and experiences.
She reacted to the announcement: “I am honoured to be taking up this important role in the global campaign to rid the world of these weapons of mass destruction. The very existence of nuclear weapons, let alone their testing or use, is a moral injury to the planet. The only effective treatment for a nuclear weapons catastrophe is prevention."
About Melissa Parke
Melissa Parke is a former Minister for International Development and former Member of Parliament for the Labor Party for Fremantle (2007 to 2016). As a federal parliamentarian in Australia, she regularly voiced support for nuclear disarmament, including as a member of a cross-party parliamentary group dedicated to the cause, and as Australian chair of Parliamentarians for Global Action and founding chair of the Australia–United Nations parliamentary group
In addition to her work as an ambassador for ICAN Australia, she has also served as a patron of the Tom Uren Memorial Fund, which supports ICAN's work, together with Australia's current prime minister, Anthony Albanese.
Ms Parke's work on nuclear issues began in the 1990s when she joined a campaign to oppose the establishment of a global nuclear waste dump in her home state of Western Australia (one of the two Australian states where the United Kingdom tested nuclear weapons in the 1950s). Around that time, she was elected to represent WA on the national council of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Her former constituency of Fremantle is a self-declared "nuclear-free zone" and active member of the Hiroshima-based Mayors for Peace network.
Prior to entering the Australian Parliament, Ms Parke served as an international lawyer with the United Nations in Kosovo, Gaza, New York and Lebanon (1999 to 2007). More recently, she served as a member of the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
In recent years, Ms Parke has served on the governing boards of the Bangladesh-based international development organisation BRAC, the Western Australian Museum, WA Health, and Animals Australia – roles that reflect her strong interest in history, social justice, and human health and development, as well as her passion for animals, the environment and biodiversity; in short planetary health and well-being.
In 2013, she received the Accountability Round Table award for parliamentary integrity, presented by a former chief justice of the High Court of Australia, and in 2022 the Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize.