An evidence-based understanding of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has become the driving force behind a renewed State and civil society demand for effective action to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. The facts about nuclear weapons and the consequences of their use were the subject of three international conferences starting in 2013—in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna. Those conferences—and a series of joint statements on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons submitted to the UN General Assembly—led in 2016 to a UNGA resolution authorizing negotiations on a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was negotiated and adopted by the UN in July 2017.
The facts about nuclear weapons—their unprecedented destructive power, their massive and indiscriminate medical and environmental effects, their capacity to wipe out everything that sustains life on Earth—have been extensively documented in hundreds of books, journal articles, and scientific papers. Campaigners for nuclear abolition are faced with the challenge of presenting the facts correctly and persuasively, and they must often do so in the few moments they have the attention of a government minister, a parliamentarian, a politician, a journalist, or a person on the street.
ICAN—the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons—was launched by IPPNW in 2007, and received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to achieve the TPNW. ICAN and IPPNW have argued that the humanitarian threat posed by nuclear weapons requires both a treaty banning them and their elimination through the full implementation of that treaty.
The purpose of this kit is to provide ICAN campaigners—and all others working to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons—with the essential facts about the blast, burn, and radiation effects of nuclear weapons; the devastation they wreak upon the environment; and the inability of physicians to reach and treat the surviving victims of nuclear war; in language that is accessible, understandable, repeatable and, we hope, persuasive.