On 27 October ICAN and Article 36 hosted a virtual side event to the UN General Assembly First Committee exploring the significance and opportunity presented by the obligations to address nuclear harm in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and what the first steps towards their implementation could entail. The event heard perspectives from legal and policy experts, states party to the TPNW, and affected communities.

You can watch the recording below, or read a summary by ICAN’s Talei Luscia Mangioni in WILPF’s First Committee Monitor here.


The panel was moderated by Alicia Sanders-Zakre of ICAN and heard from Bonnie Docherty of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School; Zhangeldy Syrymbet of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations; and Bernice Gutierrez from the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

The past use and testing of nuclear weapons continues to affect communities and their environments in countries around the world today, including through ongoing physical and mental health impacts, socio-economic effects, displacement, cultural harm and radioactive contamination.

The TPNW includes landmark obligations to address these ongoing harms through its provisions on victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation, (Articles 6 and 7). These are unprecedented obligations in an international legal instrument addressing nuclear weapons. They provide a framework of responsibility that fosters solidarity to support affected states parties and take the actions that are possible for TPNW parties to do now to address humanitarian and environmental harm.

With the TPNW now entered into force and its first Meeting of States Parties scheduled for March 2022, states have the opportunity to operationalise and implement these obligations in a way that translates into meaningful action for and with affected communities. This event discussed the ongoing issues of nuclear harm that need to be addressed, what an initial framework for action on the TPNW’s obligations in this area might look like, and the principles that should underpin this – including the centring of affected communities in policymaking.

Featured image: ICAN/Aude Catimel

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