The new International ICAN Executive Director!

Aug 11, 2023 | News

Australian to spearhead global campaign to end nuclear weapons.

Melissa Parke, former MP for Fremantle, government minister and human rights lawyer for the UN, is set to take on the position of Executive Director for ICAN International in Geneva. Ms Parke will take up the role on 1 September. She succeeds Beatrice Fihn, who stood down earlier this year.

Melissa Parke has a lifelong commitment to social justice and nuclear disarmament and has served as an ICAN Australia Ambassador since 2017, in which capacity she has championed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

As Executive Director she will focus on ensuring the campaign maintains momentum, escalating adherence, signatures and ratifications of the TPNW, thereby continuing to strengthen this new norm in international law that delegitimises and stigmatises the most destructive and inhumane weapons ever created.

Melissa Parke said: “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 only effective treatment for a nuclear holocaust is prevention.”

“As an Australian, I’m looking forward to the day the Australian Government signs on to the treaty, as Labor has promised to do. While Australia has done important work on other weapons treaties, and taken some meaningful steps on nuclear disarmament, we remain on the wrong side of history until we pick up a pen and join the ban. Nothing less will do.” 

ICAN Australia Director, Gem Romuld, says she is delighted to hear of the appointment of Ms Parke to the international role. “As a former federal Minister, UN human rights lawyer, and ICAN Ambassador for many years, Melissa’s experience and expertise will be invaluable to the campaign, especially now with the risk of nuclear weapons use as high as during the Cold War,” said Romuld.

Melissa Parke is a former Australian Labor Minister for International Development and served as Member of Parliament for Fremantle from 2007 to 2016, in which capacity she argued for nuclear disarmament. Before becoming an MP, Ms Parke served as an international lawyer with the United Nations in Kosovo, Gaza, New York and Lebanon. More recently, she served as a member of the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen.

Image: Melissa Parke at the ICAN Planning Day in Melbourne in 2020.