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Education and Research on Global Disarmament Policy

June 17, 2022
by mbolton
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Addressing British nuclear tests in Kiribati: a new opportunity for victim assistance and environmental remediation

The first Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is taking place in Vienna from 21-23 June 2022. Countries will come together to begin operationalising the victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation and assistance provisions of the TPNW.

Launched ahead of 1MSP, “Addressing British nuclear tests in Kiribati: a new opportunity for victim assistance and environmental remediation” is co-written by Dr. Matthew Breay Bolton of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute, along with NGO experts and academics who have conducted significant field and policy research relating to the UK’s nuclear testing. The report, published by the UN Association of the UK, focuses on the harm caused by the UK’s tests in Kiribati in the context of new opportunities for recognition and remediation, given Kiribati’s role as a state party to the TPNW.

From 1952 to 1991 the UK undertook 98 nuclear weapon tests internationally including 45 explosive nuclear weapon tests, as well as 29 minor trial series and facilitation of a further 24 tests which took place on British administered and colonised lands. These tests have had long lasting humanitarian and environmental consequences. Victims include affected communities in the countries where tests took place, including indigenous peoples, as well as the British and colonial service personnel directly involved or serving nearby.

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May 11, 2018
by mbolton
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The Devastating Legacy of British and American Nuclear Testing at Kiritimati (Christmas) and Malden Islands

 

Just Security ran an article 11 May 2018 covering reports by Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute (one on Kiribati and the other on Fiji) on the humanitarian, human rights and environmental impacts of UK and US nuclear weapons testing in what is now the Republic of Kiribati:

“In addition to the some 500 indigenous I-Kiribati people on Kiritimati island, now part of the Republic of Kiribati, 43,000 military and civilian personnel from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States and Fiji participated in the total of 33 U.K. and U.S. nuclear weapons tests in and around Kiribati between 1957 and 1962. …

“In 2015, Kiribati’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Makurita Baaro stated, “Today, our communities still suffer from the long-term impacts of the tests, experiencing higher rates of cancer, particularly thyroid cancer, due to exposure to radiation. …

“There has never been a sufficiently comprehensive, public, and independent analysis of the environmental impact of nuclear testing at Kiritimati, nor Malden Island. … Nevertheless, there is extensive evidence that the tests killed and maimed wildlife and damaged vegetation. …

“The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) frames nuclear weapons as an affront to humanity and acknowledges the humanitarian and environmental harm of use and testing, including the disproportionate impact on women and girls and indigenous peoples. In addition to banning nuclear weapons, the TPNW obliges states that join it to address the harm inflicted on people and the environment from nuclear weapons use and testing.”

To read the whole article, click here.

For the International Disarmament Institute’s comprehensive report on the impact of the Kiritimati and Malden Island nuclear weapons tests, click here. For its report on the impact on Fijian veterans, click here.

For the International Disarmament Institute’s general overview of the global humanitarian, human rights and environmental impact of nuclear weapons use and testing, click here.

 

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