By Nukewatch Staff
Three years have passed since the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) received its 50th ratification, triggering its entry into force. In online meeting after online meeting, Nukewatch has collaborated with comrades to rally support for the nuclear ban treaty in the United States. Last summer, Nukewatch’s John LaForge met with nuclear abolitionists in Vienna for the first Meeting of States Parties. This November, Nukewatch gathered in person with even more friends from over a hundred civil society organizations and at least 30 countries for the second Meeting of States Parties that took place in New York City. Nukewatch staff Kelly Lundeen and John LaForge organized and participated in events inside and outside of the United Nations.
Inside the UN headquarters, the Affected Communities and Allies Working Group, along with Nukewatch, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and Article 36 co-hosted a side event titled “Perspectives on Ongoing Harm to Affected Communities and Next Steps with the TPNW,” which highlighted the impacts of nuclear imperialism by three nuclear powers, the U.S., France, and the U.K.
Tina Cordova of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium spoke about the health consequences of the Trinity Test as a member of the fourth generation in her family to be diagnosed with cancer. The U.S. government has denied Trinity’s impacts, which are partially at fault for New Mexico’s status as the U.S. state most dependent on Medicaid. Hinamoeura Cross, mother and French Polynesian parliamentarian, lives with leukemia and is also among the fourth generation in her family to have cancer. She shared the experiences of young French Polynesian women who have deliberately chosen not to have children to avoid the fate of French nuclear test survivors who have endured raising children with malformations, diseases, or losing their babies. Both Cordova and Cross were recipients of the Nuclear Free Futures Award given by Beyond Nuclear and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
Petuuche Gilbert, of Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, reminded those present that uranium mining and milling are necessary for weapons production and have left irreparable environmental and intergenerational health consequences. However, mining and abandoned uranium mining communities, like the Grants district of New Mexico in his home of Acoma Pueblo, have been neglected by the TPNW. Mere Tuilau of Youngsolwara Pacific in Fiji brought to light the struggle of Fijian veterans, some as young as 15 when they were deployed to Kiribati, also known as Christmas Island. There they were exposed to U.K. nuclear testing in the 1950s and are now in dire need of access to health care and compensation.
Mari Inoue of Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World and Affected Communities and Allies Working Group spoke about the importance of a victim-centered approach, adopting stricter radiation protection standards, and affected communities’ disagreement with language in the TPNW that supports nuclear energy.
Nukewatch also attended the UN meetings of 90 nations. More than 65 civil society events took place in New York, and there were dozens of solidarity actions worldwide for the Global Day of Action against Nuclear Weapons. During the week, a delegation of 23 parliamentarians, from 14 countries not yet party to the TPNW, met calling for governments to sign and ratify the treaty. The UN meetings concluded with a declaration reaffirming commitments to getting more countries to join the ban, denouncing nuclear deterrence as policy, and unfortunately restating nations’ so-called “inalienable” right to nuclear energy. The Third Meeting of States Parties to the treaty will take place March 3-7, 2025 in New York.
Outside of the United Nations, Nukewatch brought the message of hope of the nuclear ban treaty to the nuclear-armed states that boycotted the meetings. At the Rally and March to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Nukewatch’s Kelly Lundeen read a letter urging the U.S. and Russia to join the TPNW and work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. When she tried to deliver the letter to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations it was rejected by security at the door, despite several prior attempts to alert them of the visit.
Kelly and John returned to the U.S. Mission two days later on November 30 with Catholic Workers, New York War Resisters League, and Raging Grannies to make sure their message was heard inside. Kelly was part of a blockade of all three entrances that shut down the Mission offices for two hours resulting in the arrest of 18 people. She said, “Nuclear weapons have been banned. The world has spoken. As a U.S. citizen ashamed of what my country has done, I’m here to stand in solidarity.” All 18 were released from jail later that afternoon with a ticket for a court appearance.
Resources and further reading:
- Nuclear Ban Daily
- Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium
- Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment
- Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-free World
- Revised draft declaration of the second Meeting of States
Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear