Nobel committee awarded prize to ICAN, a coalition of non-government groups, in bid to bolster case for nuclear disarmament.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, warning of a rising risk of nuclear war and the spread of weapons to North Korea, awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to a little-known campaign group seeking a global ban on nuclear arms.
The award for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was unexpected, particularly in a year when the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal between international powers and Iran had been seen as favourites for achieving the sort of diplomatic breakthrough that has won the prize in the past.
ICAN describes itself as a coalition of grassroots non-government groups in more than 100 nations. It began in Australia and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.
"We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time," said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
"Some states are modernising their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea."
In July, 122 nations adopted a UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, but nuclear-armed states including the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France stayed out of the talks.
The Nobel prize seeks to bolster the case of disarmament amid nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea and uncertainty over the fate of a 2015 deal between Iran and major powers to limit Tehran's nuclear programme.
US President Donald Trump has called the Iran agreement the "worst deal ever negotiated" and a senior administration official said on Thursday that Trump is expected to announce soon that he will decertify the landmark pact.
The organisation will receive their prize, consisting of a gold medal, a diploma, and a cheque for $1.1 million (nine million Swedish krona), at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the prize's creator, Swedish philanthropist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.
Previous Nobel Peace Prize recipients have been controversial.