photo credit: ICAN | Darren Ornitz

Affected Communities at the 2MSP


One of the powerful aspects of the TPNW, that no other treaty has ever done, is the recognition of the survivors of nuclear use and testing. States attending the Second Meeting of States Parties today heard from survivors of nuclear weapons use and testing, who are still experiencing losses caused by the harm of these weapons, sometimes generations after the initial harm took place.

In the General Debate, a joint nuclear affected community statement endorsed by 26 affected community-led organisations was presented to the conference. Affected communities members declared:

"Nuclear weapons do harm every day. From the mining of uranium to the creation of the bomb and the everlasting radioactive waste, our planet carries the scars of so many nuclear sacrifice zones. Nuclear colonialism has disproportionately impacted Indigenous Peoples and marginalised communities. Indigenous Peoples lands were taken. Bodies were used, people were bombed."

During the meeting, Kazakhstan and Kiribati reported on intersessional progress to advance Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on victim assistance and environmental remediation. The Vienna Action plan established ten actions dedicated to the implementation of Articles 6 and 7, including to discuss the feasibility of an international trust fund for affected states, to consider developing a voluntary reporting format, and for affected states to provide initial assessments of the effects of nuclear weapons use and testing and to develop national plans for the implementation of these articles.

We also saw continued strong acknowledgement of the importance of this area of the treaty from a range of states parties, and dozens of states (at least 37) highlighted the need to address the ongoing humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons use and testing. States also emphasised the need to work inclusively with affected communities and engage with civil society.

The TPNW is the only treaty that addresses the issues of loss and harm in communities affected by nuclear weapons, and states reiterated their commitment to continue to center these communities in the work going forward. Building on this work from inside of the meeting, a number of side events were held that prominently featured members of affected communities with the goal of centering their voices in the future implementation of the TPNW.

Nuclear Survivors Forum

One of the powerful aspects of the TPNW, that no other treaty has ever done, is the recognition of the survivors of nuclear weapons. ICAN hosted a Nuclear Survivors Forum, in coordination with partnering organizations, including Peace Boat, the Nuclear Truth Project, ICAN Australia, PANG, Youth4TPNW, Reverse the Trend, which created a space for members of affected communities to foster cross-cultural connections and engage in dialogue on ways to advance the provisions addressing victim assistance and environmental remediation. The participants affirmed the importance of widely sharing the stories of survivors, particularly with the younger generation, to ensure that history does not repeat itself. There was also a strong sentiment that, in order to move forward and heal, acknowledgement and apology are important. Signing and ratifying the TPNW is the best first step that states can take toward reconciliation and the prevention of further harms due to nuclear weapons. Read the public report of the Nuclear Survivors Forum here.

Challenging Nuclear Secrecy

The Nuclear Truth Project hosted an event that included a panel discussion of hierarchies, ethics and barriers to access in nuclear archives as highlighted in their recently released report entitled Challenging Nuclear Secrecy. This report concludes that privileged and hierarchical access to nuclear archives remains a substantial obstacle in reconciling the past and present harms of nuclear weapons, and it calls on States to commit to openness and transparency with their nuclear archives. Based on this foundation, the panel also examined what it will take for affected communities to be at the center of work to implement Article 6 and 7 of the Treaty. Bedi Racule, a survivor from Fiji/The Marshall Islands, summed up the importance of this discussion for affected communities:

“For us, access to documents and research can be challenging enough from the outside, let alone from the inside. Our families find it difficult to recount stories of nuclear tests and to communicate with children about this legacy.”

Perspectives on Ongoing Harm to Affected Communities and Next Steps

Another side event featured a panel discussion of affected community members on the legacies of nuclear weapons in their families, communities, and land. They spoke at length about intergenerational trauma, numerous health impacts, and the lack of accountability of colonial powers for their use and testing of nuclear weapons. There was a discussion on the importance of developing networks among communities to increase the cohesiveness of advocacy. Additionally, the panelists addressed a question about how to bridge the often bureaucratic and technical language with the lived realities of victims. They stressed the need for inclusion of affected communities and translation to make meetings more accessible. 

Survivor Testimony

Setsuko Thurlow was a 13-year-old schoolgirl when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on her city, Hiroshima. Setsuko has traveled the world for decades as a staunch advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and she is a long-time ambassador of ICAN’s message. She sent a powerful message to the Second Meeting of States Parties. 

“But while we need to work hard at this meeting to strengthen our treaty, we should also continue to celebrate it, to spread the good news, especially to young people, that paradigms can shift: that another, non-nuclear world is possible.”


ICAN's work with affected communities is supported in part by the Canton of Geneva.