Who Anointed Them with the Power to Burn?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director, International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons*

You were a whole island, once [..]
Then you became testing ground.

29 August 2018 (ICAN)* – “Earlier this year, Kathy, a Marshallese poet and spoken word artist, took a traditional canoe back to the islands of her elders, which are now a massive crater left by the detonation of the Bravo bomb in the Bikini Atoll.

Her haunting poem and documentary Anointed shows the terrible impact of nuclear tests on human lives. Today, on the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, we’re sharing her story and saying “never again”. Will you join us?

Nuclear weapons have been tested – in the atmosphere, underground and underwater – over 2,000 times since 1945, and at more than 60 locations.

Often, these tests were carried out on the lands of indigenous and minority peoples, far away from those who made the decisions to conduct them.

The impact of these tests on the environment are painfully visible in the uninhabitable craters left behind in the Bikini Atoll.

But they also have a devastating long-term humanitarian impact. Doctors project that around 2.4 million people worldwide could eventually die from cancers due to atmospheric nuclear tests [1]

Yet there is reason for optimism. Ever since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban (CTBT) was negotiated in 1996, full-scale nuclear testing has largely come to halt even though the CTBT has yet to legally enter into force.

It is widely recognised that the CTBT has contributed to a customary global norm against nuclear weapons testing [2]. In the eyes of the world, it’s morally unacceptable to do so.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons, negotiated last year, complements the CTBT by forbidding all development, possession, and use of nuclear weapons and recognises the ‘unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to victims’ of nuclear weapons use and testing [3].

Crucially, it also has so-called positive obligations that states must meet: they must provide assistance including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support for the victims of nuclear weapons use or testing and remediate areas contaminated as a result of ‘activities related to’ nuclear weapons use or testing [4].

But the work isn’t over until we eradicate nuclear testing and nuclear weapons altogether!

If we are going to eliminate nuclear weapons, we need to keep emphasising the humanitarian risk and share the stories of the survivors of nuclear testing and use. On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, will you help us do so?”

[1] General Overview of the Effects of Nuclear Testing, CTBTO | CTBTO.org
[2] A customary norm is one that applies to all states not just to parties to a treaty. Learn more about the CTBT at CTBTO.org
[3] Learn More about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons onnuclearban.org
[4] The Nuclear Weapons Ban: assisting victims and remediating the Environment | ICRC icrc.org

*SOURCE: ICAN – International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons. Go to ORIGINAL. 

Read also:

International Day Against Nuclear Tests

‘We Must Join Forces and Take the Final Steps to Secure the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

2018 Human Wrongs Watch


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