Alva Myrdal, Alfonso García Robles

Nobel Peace Prize 1982

Alva Myrdal

(1902-1986)

Disarmament and nuclear weapons-free zones

Alva Myrdal already had an extensive career behind her when she was elected to the Swedish "riksdag" (legislative assembly) in 1962. She had studied philology and pedagogy, and in the inter-war years devoted herself to improving the conditions of the working class through the Social Democrat Party. She also made a name for herself as a campaigner for women's rights.After World War II, Alva Myrdal held prominent posts in the United Nations system, hand-picked by the Secretary-General. She was among other things head of UNESCO's social science section. From 1955 she was Swedish Ambassador to India.It was, however, as the government minister in charge of disarmament issues that Alva Myrdal really stood out as an innovator. As the representative of a non-aligned Sweden, she worked actively to persuade the superpowers to disarm. The nuclear race was a major concern, and she fought for nuclear weapons-free zones in Europe. Each individual country ought to take the initiative and ban nuclear arms on its territory.

Alfonso García Robles

(1911-1991)

Mexico

"Mr. Disarmament"

Alfonso García qualified as a lawyer and held a diploma from the Academy of International Law in the Hague. He embarked on a long career as a diplomat, including various posts at the UN headquarters in New York.After the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, Garcia Robles played a key part in the laborious efforts to make Latin America a nuclear-free zone, which led to an agreement signed by 14 states in Mexico City in 1967.When the agreement had been concluded, García Robles continued his work for peace. He participated in the formulation of the non-proliferation agreement for nuclear arms of 1968, and figured prominently in the UN's special sessions on disarmament. He was also Mexico's Foreign Minister for a little over a year.But it was as a diplomat that García Robles achieved his greatest triumphs. The last time he visited the UN Headquarters, he was lauded as "Mr. Disarmament".