Edinburgh law alumnus part of Nobel Peace Prize team

Daniel Högsta

An Edinburgh University graduate is a member of the organisation that 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 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.

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.

He said: “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.

Professor 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 Beatrice Fihn will jointly deliver the speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony with Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

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