Delegations representing 146 States, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and civil society organizations, participated in the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Nayarit, Mexico, on 13 and 14 February 2014. This to discuss global and long-term consequences of any nuclear detonation, accidental or deliberate, from the perspective and concerns of the 21st century society, including areas such as public health, humanitarian assistance, the economy, development and environmental issues, climate change, food security and risk management, amongst others. To read more about the conference, click here.
The Nayarit Conference succeeded in presenting a facts-based approach to facilitate an informed discussion of these effects. Some key conclusions can be extracted from the presentations and discussion:
- The effects of a nuclear weapon detonation are not constrained by national borders − it is therefore an issue of deep concern shared by all.
- Beyond the immediate death and destruction caused by a detonation, socio-economic development will be hampered and the environment will be damaged. Suffering will be widespread, the poor and vulnerable being the most severely affected.
- Reconstruction of infrastructure and regeneration of economic activities, trade, communications, health facilities, and schools would take several decades, causing profound social and political harm.
- Radiation exposure could result in short and long-term negative effects in every organ of the human body and would increase cancer risks and future hereditary pathologies.
- Today the risk of nuclear weapons use is growing globally as a consequence of proliferation, the vulnerability of nuclear command and control networks to cyber-attacks and to human error, and potential access to nuclear weapons by non-state actors, in particular terrorist groups.
- As more countries deploy more nuclear weapons on higher levels of combat readiness, the risks of accidental, mistaken, unauthorized or intentional use of these weapons grow significantly.
- It is a fact that no State or international organization has the capacity to address or provide the short and long term humanitarian assistance and protection needed in case of a nuclear weapon explosion. Moreover, it would not be possible to establish such capacities, even if attempted.
The Norwegian delegation presented the first conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons which took place in Oslo, March 2013. The purpose of the Oslo-conference was to provide an opportunity to develop a greater understanding of what the consequences would be, and how states and the international community, would respond to these consequences. Norway summed up three conclusions from the Oslo-conference in the recent conference in Mexico:
- It is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected. Moreover, it might not be possible to establish such capacities, even if it were attempted.
- The historical experience from the use and testing of nuclear weapons has demonstrated their devastating immediate and long-term effects. While political circumstances have changed, the destructive potential of nuclear weapons remains.
- The effects of a nuclear weapon detonation, irrespective of cause, will not be constrained by national borders, and will affect states and people in significant ways, regionally as well as globally.
Read Norway’s full presentation at the Nayarit-conference here.