The peer-reviewed academic journal Global Policy will publish a Special Section on “Addressing the Humanitarian and Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Weapons” in its February issue, edited by Dr. Matthew Breay Bolton of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute and Elizabeth Minor of Article 36. Pace University graduate student Sydney Tisch also co-authored one of the articles, on the impact of UK and US nuclear testing in Kiribati. In recognition of the January 2021 entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the Global Policy team are releasing the articles early online and making them open access over the next couple weeks.
The Special Section aims to be a resource for researchers, policymakers, advocates and journalists, compiling in once place key information on the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear detonations and humanitarian, environmental and development policy efforts to address them. The Special Section includes an overview of the locations all nuclear weapons detonations and a review of their humanitarian and environmental consequences; a detailed case study of US and UK nuclear testing in Kiribati; an interview with survivors in Japan and Kazakhstan; a commentary on existing victim assistance and environment remediation; and a commentary on how best to implement the TPNW victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations. The overall argument running through the articles is that policy interventions to date have not adequately addressed the needs and rights of hibakusha, atomic veterans and test survivors, nor ongoing environmental concerns. The authors argue that the TPNW victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations offer an important new opportunity for addressing the consequences of nuclear detonations, by focusing policy attention and constituting a new field of development assistance.
Below are abstracts of all the articles as well as links:
1) “The Humanitarian Initiative on Nuclear Weapons: An Introduction to Global Policy’s Special Section”, by Matthew Breay Bolton and Elizabeth Minor
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12892 (Currently Open Access and free to download)
The use and testing of nuclear weapons caused transnational and catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences. Legacies of more than 2,000 nuclear detonations in the territories of 15 states persist today, with serious implications for human rights and sustainable development. There is an inadequate global policy architecture for addressing the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons. However, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted by 122 states at the UN in 2017, established obligations to assist victims of nuclear weapons and testing and remediate contaminated environments. Other global policymaking bodies have also mandated action on such concerns. In this review article, introducing a Special Section on ‘Addressing the Humanitarian and Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Weapons’, we provide a global overview of the facts about past nuclear weapons activities in different countries and some of the known and potential ongoing consequences of the blast, heat and radioactive energy released by past nuclear weapons detonations. In doing so, we aim to inform the development of policy around the TPNW and the gathering of further relevant information, enabling efforts to develop global humanitarian, human rights and sustainable development policy assisting communities affected by nuclear weapons.
2) “Addressing the Humanitarian and Environmental Consequences of Atmospheric Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Case Study of UK and US Test Programs at Kiritimati (Christmas) and Malden Islands, Republic of Kiribati”, by Becky Alexis-Martin, Matthew Breay Bolton, Dimity Hawkins Talei Luscia Mangioni and Sydney Tisch
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12913 (Currently Open Access and free to download)
Between 1957 and 1962, the UK and USA conducted 33 atmospheric nuclear weapons test detonations at or close to Malden and Kiritimati (Christmas) Islands (total yield 31 megatons), formerly British colonial territories in the central Pacific region, now part of the Republic of Kiribati. Some 40,000 British, Fijian, New Zealand and US civilian and military personnel participated in the test program and 500 i‐Kiribati civilians lived on Kiritimati at the time. This article reviews humanitarian and environmental consequences of the UK and US nuclear weapons testing programs in Kiribati, as well as the policy measures that have addressed them. The authors contend that policy interventions to date have not adequately addressed the needs and rights of test survivors, nor ongoing environmental concerns. They argue that the victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offer an important new opportunity for addressing the consequences of nuclear detonations in Kiribati, by focusing policy attention and constituting a new field of development assistance.
3) “Policy Approaches Addressing the Ongoing Humanitarian and Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Weapons: A Commentary” by Alicia Sanders-Zakre and Nate Van Duzer
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12870 (Currently Open Access and free to download)
The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) not only bans nuclear weapons, it obligates its states parties to engage in assisting victims and remediating contaminated environments (Articles 6 and 7). As states and civil society consider the best methods to implement these provisions, it is important to take stock and review existing policy approaches addressing the ongoing humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons. This practitioner commentary, written by members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its advocacy for the TPNW, reviews existing programs of victim assistance and environmental remediation. It highlights key considerations for policy makers seeking to improve on the existing mechanisms.
4) “Commentary on Addressing the Legacies of Nuclear Weapons Use and Testing: Perspectives from survivors”, by Elizabeth Minor, Hana Umezawa, Terumi Tanaka, Sueichi Kido and Dmitriy Vesselov
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12891 (Currently Open Access and free to download)
To develop an effective and responsive global policy framework for addressing the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons, survivors and communities affected by nuclear weapons use and testing, and their perspectives and expertise on what is needed, must be included. Testimony from survivors was crucial to the global effort for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Articles 6 and 7 will require states joining the TPNW to provide assistance (such as medical and psychological support, and social and economic inclusion) to the victims of nuclear weapons use and testing, and to take measures towards remediating environments that are still affected. Going forward, policy development on the implementation of Articles 6 and 7 of the TPNW should be guided by the priorities that affected communities identify.
5) “A Singular Opportunity: Setting Standards for Victim Assistance under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, by Bonnie Docherty
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12927 (Currently Open Access and free to download)
With entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) scheduled for January 22, 2021, the time has come for states parties to start operationalizing its obligations. The TPNW not only bans nuclear weapons but also includes provisions designed to reduce the “unacceptable suffering” caused by past use and testing. These positive obligations require states parties to assist victims, remediate the contaminated environment, and provide international cooperation and assistance to support those efforts. To inform the work of the TPNW’s First Meeting of States Parties, which will start the implementation process, this commentary proposes strong standards for assisting victims in a nuclear weapons context. The standards draw on the TPNW’s language, humanitarian disarmament’s victim assistance norms, and principles for assisting victims of toxic remnants of war. This commentary addresses the types of harm, types of assistance, framework of shared responsibility, implementation measures, and guiding principles that constitute an effective and feasible assistance program for nuclear weapon victims. Collectively the proposed standards aim to advance the humanitarian purpose of the TPNW.