Communities harmed by nuclear weapons call for assistance from all states under the UN nuclear ban treaty


Communities from across the world whose health has been harmed and environment contaminated by the testing, use and development of nuclear weapons have called on the international community to provide assistance as mandated by the UN nuclear ban treaty.

The call was made today at the Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in New York. The TPNW came into force in 2021 and one of its innovative features is that it mandates states to provide assistance to communities harmed by nuclear use and testing and to clean up radioactive contamination that remains in many of the regions used for testing.

Between 1945 and 2007, more than 2000 nuclear tests were carried out, mainly in the southwestern United States, many Pacific islands, Australia, Algeria and Kazakhstan. The majority of the tests were carried out in what were then colonies and/or regions inhabited by Indigenous peoples. Nuclear weapons were used twice in warfare – in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – and their production has caused ongoing and widespread impacts on surrounding communities.

In a statement to the more than 100 countries at the TPNW meeting, the communities said: We call for the clean-up of our contaminated lands and waters. We call for assistance for victims and survivors, whether we are Indigenous Peoples, hibakusha, hibakunisei, nuclear veterans, test survivors, downwinders, or anyone whose lives are scarred by the intergenerational harms caused by the development and production of these weapons of mass destruction. We deserve recognition, respect, and reparations.”

They also called for all states, but particularly nuclear-armed states, to join the TPNW and make themselves accountable for their actions with this appeal: We feel as though governments are waiting for us to vanish, hoping their responsibilities will die with us. But the effects continue for our children and grandchildren and beyond. We are anxious about the future. How much longer will we suffer ?”

In a stark reminder of the injustice these communities face, on the day the TPNW meeting in New York began, the United Kingdom, which tested 45 nuclear weapons in Australia and what is today Kiribati, announced in a statement to parliament in London that it was rejecting calls from Kiribati for compensation: “The UK has reviewed residual contamination relating to British nuclear tests on Kiribati and concluded that any required remediation had been undertaken.” An assertion that is contradicted by  recent research.

Editor’s notes

The full statement is available here

The statement was made on behalf of the following organisations:

  • Asia Pacific Network of Environment Defenders - Pacific
  • Australian Nuclear Free Alliance - Australia
  • Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety -USA
    Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining - USA
  • Fiji Nuclear Veterans Association – Fiji
  • Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition – Japan
  • Indigenous Life Ways Inc – USA
  • Indigenous World Association – Canada
  • Japanese Liaison Council of Second-Generation Atomic Bomb Survivors - Japan
  • Jharkhand Organisation Against Radiation – India
  • Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment – USA
  • Marshallese Education Initiative - Marshall Islands
  • Moruroa e Tātou - Maohi Nui / French Polynesia
  • Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment – USA
  • Nihon Hindankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Orgs) – Japan
  • Nuclear Truth Project – International
  • Pacific Conference of Churches – Pacific
  • Pacific Network on Globalisation – Pacific
  • Radiation Exposure Awareness Crusaders for Humanity - Marshall Islands Southwest
  • Indigenous Uranium Forum – USA
  • Taourirt Association – Algeria
  • Tewa Women United – USA
  • The Lop Nor Project – China
  • West Mallee Protection – Australia
  • Youngsolwara Pacific - Pacific

For more information or request a briefing or interviews contact

ICAN Head of Media, Alistair Burnett  [email protected] +41 78 238 7179