IRRC No. 899

The humanitarian impact and implications of nuclear test explosions in the Pacific region

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The people of the Pacific region have suffered widespread and persisting radioactive contamination, displacement and transgenerational harm from nuclear test explosions. This paper reviews radiation health effects and the global impacts of nuclear testing, as context for the health and environmental consequences of nuclear test explosions in Australia, the Marshall Islands, the central Pacific and French Polynesia. The resulting humanitarian needs include recognition, accountability, monitoring, care, compensation and remediation. Treaty architecture to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons and provide for their elimination is considered the most promising way to durably end nuclear testing. Evidence of the humanitarian impacts of nuclear tests, and survivor testimony, can contribute towards fulfilling the humanitarian imperative to eradicate nuclear weapons.

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