Category: ILPI-UNIDIR Joint Papers

Gendered impacts

The humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons from a gender perspective

By Anne Guro Dimmen
4 December 2014

Using a gender perspective ‘adds a layer’ to understanding the effects of nuclear weapons on humans. Women are biologically more vulnerable to harmful health effects of ionizing radiation than men. Social effects of nuclear weapons are gendered, women often being the ones most affected in relation to psychological health, displacement, social stigma and discrimination.

Population displacement

Displacement in the aftermath of nuclear weapon detonation events

By Simon Bagshaw
4 December 2014

One of the most significant and immediate consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation event will be the mass displacement of people. These displaced people will urgently need shelter, uncontaminated food and water, adequate yet specialized healthcare, as well as protection from violence, abuse, and discrimination, both in the short term and, for many, in the longer-term too. Meeting these needs, while maintaining on-going humanitarian operations throughout the world, would pose a fundamental challenge for global humanitarian response, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

A limit to safety

Risk, ‘normal accidents’, and nuclear weapons

By John Borrie
4 December 2014

Although improvements in managing nuclear weapons might reduce risk, factors like competing organizational agendas, biases, human frailty and the incomprehensibility of systems failures to their designers and operators mean that risk cannot be eliminated. One difficulty in assessing risk of detonation of nuclear weapons is due to lack of transparency on the part of possessors about their safety records. This serves to detract from claims that nuclear deterrence is safe or sustainable. At the same time, evidence from catastrophic accidents involving hazardous technologies of various kinds indicates that significant risk is endemic in complex and tightly coupled systems, as nuclear weapon control systems must be if nuclear deterrence is to function.

A harmful legacy

The lingering humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons testing

By John Borrie
4 December 2014

There have been more than 2,000 nuclear detonations as part of the weapons testing programmes of at least eight nations—the majority of these devices exploded underground since a partial test ban was agreed in the 1960s. The impacts on human health and wellbeing from nuclear tests are both longer lasting and broader in scope than is often realised. Health consequences of nuclear weapons testing have fallen most heavily on minority, rural, or disenfranchised populations because governments have tended to situate their test sites in remote areas populated by such groups.

The story so far

The humanitarian initiative on the impacts of nuclear weapons

By Nick Ritchie
4 December 2014

Decisive multilateral progress toward a nuclear-weapon-free world led by the nuclear-armed states has not been forthcoming since the end of the cold war, as many once expected. Some non-nuclear-armed states have responded by reframing nuclear disarmament debate in terms of the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, and this perspective has gathered broad political support and momentum. The Vienna conference provides an important opportunity ahead of the 2015 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to begin to consider potential diplomatic responses to the indiscriminate and catastrophic effects of nuclear violence.

ILPI–UNIDIR joint paper series for the third HINW-Conference

Joint paper series on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons

4 December 2014

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Project at the International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) has produced a series of six concise briefing papers in partnership with UNIDIR in Geneva, Switzerland. The papers are intended to provide background briefing for the upcoming international conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons to be held in Vienna, Austria from 8th to 9th December 2014.