Law alumnus part of Nobel Peace Prize team
An Edinburgh graduate who played a key role in the organisation will receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Daniel Högsta, who graduated from Edinburgh Law School in 2012, is Network Coordinator for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Mr Högsta will be in Oslo on Sunday, 10 December, to receive the prize with other members of ICAN.
The award was given in recognition of ICAN’s work in driving the process to achieve the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Passed on 7 July 2017, it is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. Its goal is their total elimination.
We recognise that this award is both a hugely humbling honour as well as an incredible opportunity. The recognition of our strategy by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is a massive boost. We’ll work harder to live up to it.
Mr Högsta began working with ICAN shortly after leaving Edinburgh. For the past two years, he has coordinated ICAN’s partnerships with more than 460 organisations. He has also lobbied governments in international forums, such as the UN.
During this time, Mr Högsta and ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn were the only full-time members of staff.
The Edinburgh graduate admits he was “totally floored” by the Nobel Prize win.
There had been some murmurings by some media outlets that it was a possibility, but we never really entertained the possibility in our minds. After about 5-10 minutes of paralytic shock, we managed to collect ourselves and start to deal with the mad rush of press swamping our office and jamming the phone lines.
A chance conversation with Professor James Harrison, Senior Lecturer in International Law, on the stairwell leading to the Law Library set him on his career path.
Prof Harrison suggested that if Mr Högsta was interested in the practical side of international law, he should apply for small, internationally-focused NGOs, where he could make an impact. Mr Högsta subsequently applied for internships in Geneva and was recruited by ICAN.
“Studying at Edinburgh has had a pretty huge impact. I learned that what I was interested in most was Public International Law. Learning the language of the law and learning how to think critically were two of the major takeaways from my time at Edinburgh. It was certainly an intense time academically, but I’m so very grateful for it all.”
ICAN’s success has another Edinburgh connection. At the time of the win, Dagmar Topf Aguiar de Medeiros, a PhD student from the University’s School of Law, was an intern with Ithe organisation.
ICAN’s Beatrice Fihn will jointly deliver the speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony with Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature.
It has been awarded annually since 1901 to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".
Edinburgh has several links with previous Nobel Peace Prize winners. Malala Yousafzai, recipient in 2014 and the youngest ever winner, is an honorary graduate.
Professor Gabi Hegerl, Professor Mark Rounsevell and Dr Terry Barker contributed to the work of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
In 1995 Sir Joseph Rotblat, Montague Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University from 1975–1976, was awarded a prize for efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international affairs and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.
Image credit: ©ICAN