Wednesday, 29.11.2023

Addressing the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

At a time of increasing nuclear tensions, focusing on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons use and testing can build much-needed trust.

“International Cooperation and Assistance -- Addressing Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons” | Wednesday, 29 November 2023

During the second Meeting of States Parties (2MSP) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Article 36 and Pace University's International Disarmament Institute hosted a side event on the humanitarian and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons use and testing.

According to UN High Representative for Disarmament Izumi Nakamitsu, the legacy of nuclear tests continues to have “profound, harmful, and long-lasting effects on the environment, human health, and the economic development of some of the world’s most fragile regions.” The TPNW’s “positive obligations -- Article 6 and 7 -- require states parties to engage in international cooperation and assistance to aid communities affected by the ongoing humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons use and testing. In the Action Plan of the TPNW’s First Meeting of States Parties, states parties agreed to assess needs and establish national and international mechanisms to provide victim assistance and environmental remediation, centering on the concerns of affected communities. Recent negotiations in the NPT, Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly First Committee have also elevated victim assistance and environmental remediation as diplomatic priorities beyond the TPNW.

However, to date there have been few efforts either by donor states or private philanthropic organizations to actively provide support to communities affected by nuclear weapons use and testing, particularly in comparison with other humanitarian disarmament sectors like mine action and small arms control. This side event considered what actions and discussions might need to happen to bolster nuclear weapons-related victim assistance and environmental remediation as an emerging sector of development assistance. It brought together selected parliamentarians and diplomats from UN member states, as well as representatives from international organizations, grant-making institutions, and civil society.

Welcome:

  • Michael Bröning, Executive Director, FES New York

Input:

  • Bedi Racule, President, Marshall Islands Student Association
  • Zhangeldy Syrymbet, Counsellor, Permanent Mission Kazakhstan to the UN
  • Alexander Kmentt, Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non- Proliferation Department, Austrian Foreign Ministry
  • Elizabeth Minor, Advisor, Article 36

Chair:

  • Volker Lehmann, Senior Policy Analyst, FES New York

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