On December 22, 2023, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution entitled “Addressing the Legacy of Nuclear Weapons: Providing Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation to States Affected by the Use or Testing of Nuclear Weapons.” This historic resolution was tabled by the Republics of Kazakhstan and Kiribati, two countries impacted by the nuclear testing conducted by the Soviet Union, in the case of Kazakhstan, and by the United States and the United Kingdom, in the case of Kiribati. The resolution marks a pivotal step in a long journey towards addressing the legacy of nuclear weapons and achieving nuclear justice.

The resolution’s primary purpose is to lay the groundwork for global collaboration and aid, focusing on mitigating the harm inflicted on countries that have experienced the use or testing of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the resolution outlines measures for evaluating the impact of nuclear tests and explores pathways for offering both practical and financial support to those affected, as well as strategies for the rehabilitation of regions contaminated by radiation.

This resolution, co-sponsored by 41 UN Member States representing diverse global regions, was overwhelmingly approved with 161 nations voting in favor in the General Assembly (previous vote in the General Assembly’s First Committee resulted in 171 votes in favor). However, the resolution faced opposition from four countries—North Korea (DPRK), France, Russia, and the United Kingdom—and six abstentions, coming from China, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Sudan, and the United States. Despite these dissenting and neutral positions, the resolution’s passage with such a substantial majority underscores a global recognition of the need to address the consequences of nuclear testing. The resolution is an example of the way in which the norms and expectations attached to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the treaty’s humanitarian provisions spelled out in Articles 6 and 7, more specifically) are becoming universalized.

We are delighted to support these efforts of Kazakhstan and Kiribati and offer our congratulations to their governments and diplomats on this victory, as well as gratitude for their commitment to nuclear justice and nuclear abolition. Special shoutout goes to our Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, Christian Ciobanu, who, working as an advisor to the Kiribati government, moved mountains to make this resolution a stunning success. This is an important step on the road toward nuclear justice and elimination of nuclear weapons, to ensure that such victims are never created again.

Read the resolution HERE and below.

UNGA Resolution Vote Tally: 161 Favor, 4 Oppose (DPRK, France, Russia, UK), 6 Abstain (China, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Sudan, USA).

Individual Country Votes

Article on Nuclear Justice in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Article on Nuclear Justice in The Nation