ICAN launches report on Pacific Islands’ support for a global ban on nuclear weapons

January 30, 2014

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is encouraging all Pacific Island nations to attend the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, to be held in Mexico next month, and use this opportunity to share their experiences of the devastating effects of nuclear testing in the region.

ICAN today released a report that details the ongoing humanitarian impact of the tests. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the infamous “Bravo” nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, which spread radioactive fallout over inhabited islands. From 1946 until 1996, more than 315 nuclear test explosions were conducted across the region by France, Britain and the United States.

Download report: Banning Nuclear Weapons: A Pacific Islands Perspective

The nuclear test explosions have added to the global cancer burden. Hazards were greatest for the military and civilian personnel who staffed the test sites, as well as villagers living on nearby and downwind islands. Years later, many of these nuclear survivors are suffering health problems related to their exposure to radiation.

The Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, from 13 to 14 February in the Mexican state of Nayarit, is a follow-up to the Oslo Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that took place in March 2013. That conference helped build momentum for negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

The author of the report, Nic Maclellan, said: “Pacific island nations – which understand all too well the horrific effects of nuclear weapons – are perfectly placed to play a leadership role in the process to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons, which will help ensure that no one else suffers as they have suffered.”

He added: “So long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a real danger they will be used again – whether by accident or design – and the consequences will be catastrophic. A treaty banning these worst weapons of terror and mass destruction is urgently needed.”

Rev. François Pihaatae, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, wrote in the foreword to the report: “It is necessary that our regional leaders – secular and faith-based – recognise the threats of nuclear weapons and speak forcefully for a ban. In international forums, including conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the Pacific must speak with a united voice.”

By Jessica Lawson

  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s act up! Ban nuclear weapons completely and unconditionally.”

    Ai Weiwei Artist and activist

  • sheen

    “If Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, they would be part of ICAN.”

    Martin Sheen Actor and activist

  • bankimoon

    “I salute ICAN for working with such commitment and creativity.”

    Ban Ki-moon Former UN chief

  • yokoono

    “We can do it together. With your help, our voice will be made still stronger. Imagine peace.”

    Yoko Ono Artist

  • jodywilliams

    “Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”

    Jody Williams Nobel laureate

  • desmondtutu

    “With your support, we can take ICAN its full distance – all the way to zero nuclear weapons.”

    Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate

  • herbiehancock

    “Because I cannot tolerate these appalling weapons, I whole-heartedly support ICAN.”

    Herbie Hancock Jazz musician

  • dalailama

    “I can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and I support ICAN.”

    Dalai Lama Nobel laureate