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Pacific nations seek justice as nuclear weapon ban comes into force

Jan 22, 2021

Pacific Nations have welcomed the signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons. This Treaty came into effect on 22 January 2021. Pacific Island Countries are now focusing on achieving historical truth-telling to gain nuclear justice for affected communities. 

The Pacific – a nuclear testing ground

For many years the Pacific Island nations have called for this treaty as more than 315 nuclear weapons were “tested” in the region in the second half of the 20th century. These tests were conducted by former colonisers or “friendly” forces.  Nuclear bombs were tested in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, French Polynesia (Maohi Nui) as well as Australia. The United States, Britain and France were behind the weapon tests during the Cold War era. In addition to the physical damage and impacts to the environment, communities were also affected.

Which countries have signed and ratified the Treaty?

Pacific Island nations such as Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, New Zealand and Nauru signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons early in the process. Yet Australia, who also had nuclear tests conducted on its soil, has not signed or ratified the Treaty. The United States, Britain, and France – all countries who relied upon largely colonised lands to conduct nuclear weapons tests – have also not signed the Treaty. Also absent are Russia and China. 

“Pacific Islanders continue to be exposed to nuclear radiation. Nuclear explosions, we know very well, do not observe national borders, they don’t respect visa regimes, nor does nuclear waste respect time – it remains for generations.” Fiji’s High Commissioner to the United Nations, Dr Satyendra Prasad

Treaty gives hope for nuclear justice

With the treaty enshrined into international law, Pacific Island countries are now focusing on the process of historical truth-telling to obtain nuclear justice for communities affected. Records pertaining to the nuclear testing have been held by the colonial powers. They have not been made available to the Governments of the Pacific or the affected communities. In order to achieve nuclear justice, nuclear testing records must be opened up and a commitment to accountability and transparency is required from all countries involved in historic nuclear testing.

Take action!

Tell your MP that the time is right for Australia to do its part by signing and ratifying the ban:

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