Nuclear weapons have long affected and damaged societies, particularly indigenous peoples. Now they demand that their voice be heard and use international law to stem the historical use of force.
In order to maintain a “credible” nuclear deterrent, the nuclear powers have carried out more than 2,000 test explosions and destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of people. On average, nuclear weapons were detonated almost every eight days between 1950 and 1989.
The nuclear powers often chose to shift the long-term costs to others, preferably colonies and indigenous lands. A balance of interests was made between the need for deterrence and the right of others to live their lives.
It was necessary for the US authorities to forcibly relocate the people on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and blow it up to the point of being uninhabitable. Soviet authorities chose Kazakhstan. China in Xinjiang Province. France in the Pacific and Algeria. Great Britain in the Pacific and Australia.
None of the nuclear powers have ensured adequate repair. One reason for this has been the affected communities’ lack of resources and legal instruments. Another weighty reason has been the asymmetric power and dependency relationship between former colonial power and colony.
A balance of interests was made between the need for deterrence and the right of others to live their lives.
122 states and representatives from civil society and indigenous peoples were present during the negotiations and adoption of the UN nuclear weapons ban in 2017. The ban is the first international agreement that requires assistance to victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons. It has created a framework for repairing damage done by others.
The nuclear weapons ban’s framework draws inspiration from other agreements, including the bans on cluster munitions and landmines and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Now that the UN nuclear weapons ban has entered into force and is being implemented, measures will be shaped and influenced by these agreements. Victims must not only receive the necessary health care, they must be able to enjoy civil and political rights.
Measures should be financed by states inside and outside the ban. It will make up for missing resources and asymmetric relationships. The United States is the largest contributor to the clearance of landmines, although the United States has never acceded to the Mines Convention.
If Støre’s government is serious about the Hurdal platform, they should be a constructive partner to the ban. Putting human rights aside for security policy dogma belongs to another era.
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