Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation in the Pacific
Special Reports

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation in the Pacific

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This report sheds light on the benefits and challenges pertaining to victim assistance and environmental remediation in the wake of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Nuclear weapons were tested by the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), and France across historical colonial and occupied commonwealth lands in the Pacific Ocean from 1946 until 1996. Australia, Republic of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia were directly affected and experienced significant humanitarian and environmental consequences. Other nearby Pacific Island states, including Cook Islands, Fiji, and Solomon Islands were also impacted by the tests. While evidence of environmental and health effects exists, the total long-term consequences remain unknown.

Nuclear weapons possessor states are reluctant to accept responsibility for harms and are unwilling to provide transparency around historical nuclear military activity. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) offers a path forward to understanding the impacts of Pacific nuclear weapons testing and to support nation-states affected by these activities. Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty provide a framework for addressing the humanitarian and environmental consequences and an avenue for international collaboration towards these ends.

To help realise nuclear justice for affected nations, this report makes the following recommendations:

  • Pasifika people are supported to engage with the decision-making process at every stage of its development and implementation.
  • Implement mechanisms and safeguards, including long-term support, monitoring, auditing, and education, to ensure access to support is equitable and fair.
  • Implement Articles 6 and 7 of the TPNW through a lens of epistemic justice
  • Establish frameworks to ensure parity of understanding among relevant Pacific communities, particularly through translation of key materials into non-colonial languages and supporting community networks and mentors.
  • Ensure that any international aid mobilised through the Treaty, whether financial or otherwise, is accessible to all affected communities, regardless of whether they reside in a TPNW State Party.
  • Recognise that Pasifika people must be supported in their practices of recognition, acknowledgement, and memorialisation to address psycho-social and cultural consequences of the nuclear weapons test programs; policy interventions should acknowledge the intrinsic value that many Pacific peoples place on the environment, not just its instrumental value, and nuclear testing victims must receive comprehensive bio-psycho-social medical support.
  • Conduct a complete and detailed environmental, genetic, and public health study, led by international experts in the field to determine the future needs of Pasifika people.


About the authors

Becky Alexis-Martin is a pacifist academic at the University of Bradford. Her work explores the peace science of nuclear warfare, social justice, humanitarian and environmental issues, and human rights. Her current expertise is focused on nuclear geographies and decolonising disarmament policy in the Pacific. She has authored over seventy news articles, book chapters, and peer-reviewed academic articles. Her first book, “Disarming Doomsday: The Human Impact of Nuclear Weapons Since Hiroshima”, was the recipient of the L.H.M. Ling Outstanding First Book Prize.

Qurat Ul Ain is a Research Assistant in Peace and International Development at the University of Bradford. She is passionate about peace, conflict and development. She supports research across disarmament education – and aims to create a more peaceful world.

Kolby Kaller is a journalist who is passionate about elevating decolonized narratives about the ways humans interact with their lived environment. Most recently, she has been focusing her efforts on Sapience Collective, a digital media project aimed at highlighting the ontological shortcomings of the West that have led to the current climate crisis.

Ben Donaldson is a freelance researcher and campaigner with a specialism in arms control and the United Nations. He has over a decade’s experience coordinating advocacy campaigns domestically in the UK and at the UN level. During the second meeting of states parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons he worked as a reporter for Lex International, interviewing diplomats and writing about the political dynamics that shape the Treaty. He co-authored a 2022 report on Britain’s nuclear testing in the Pacific while working at the United Nations Association – UK.

Matthew Maslen is an MA graduate in Philosophy from the University of Glasgow. He attended the First and Second Meetings of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a Youth for TPNW delegate, and as an ICAN volunteer. Through the PeaceJam Foundation he is working to increase youth empowerment in peace activism.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated in this work represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. The APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to

Image: from the field work undertaken by co-author Dr Alexis-Martin in Kiritimati in July and August 2023 (Credit: Becky Alexis-Martin, 2018).

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