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Human Rights Fallout of Nuclear Detonations: Reevaluating ‘Threshold Thinking’ in Assisting Victims of Nuclear Testing

Human Rights Fallout of Nuclear Detonations: Reevaluating ‘Threshold Thinking’ in Assisting... Atmospheric nuclear test detonations conducted by USA, USSR, UK, France and China, 1945–1980, generated radioactive particles that were dispersed by weather patterns, returning to earth as fallout. People who lived ‘downwind’ face ongoing risks from their exposure to ionizing radiation, as well as psychological, social, cultural and political distress. However, testing states obscured these humanitarian consequences by claiming that fallout could be contained to specific spatial zones, that there are ‘thresholds’ below which radiation exposure has negligible health impacts and that socio‐political forms of harm should be disregarded. While the scientific consensus concludes fallout circulates in complex, nonlinear patterns; there is no safe level of radiation exposure; and nuclear testing can generate tremendous anxiety, what Liboiron calls ‘threshold thinking’ continues to underlie policies ostensibly assisting victims of nuclear weapons. This article offers examples from responses to French Pacific nuclear testing, showing how access to compensation and other assistance has often been conditioned on threshold qualifications that function to limit downwind communities’ access to assistance and remedy. Victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offer opportunities to move beyond reductive policy logics to multifaceted, human rights‐based approaches to affected communities’ concerns. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Global Policy Wiley

Human Rights Fallout of Nuclear Detonations: Reevaluating ‘Threshold Thinking’ in Assisting Victims of Nuclear Testing

Global Policy , Volume 13 (1) – Feb 1, 2022

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References (31)

Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2022 University of Durham and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
ISSN
1758-5880
eISSN
1758-5899
DOI
10.1111/1758-5899.13042
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Atmospheric nuclear test detonations conducted by USA, USSR, UK, France and China, 1945–1980, generated radioactive particles that were dispersed by weather patterns, returning to earth as fallout. People who lived ‘downwind’ face ongoing risks from their exposure to ionizing radiation, as well as psychological, social, cultural and political distress. However, testing states obscured these humanitarian consequences by claiming that fallout could be contained to specific spatial zones, that there are ‘thresholds’ below which radiation exposure has negligible health impacts and that socio‐political forms of harm should be disregarded. While the scientific consensus concludes fallout circulates in complex, nonlinear patterns; there is no safe level of radiation exposure; and nuclear testing can generate tremendous anxiety, what Liboiron calls ‘threshold thinking’ continues to underlie policies ostensibly assisting victims of nuclear weapons. This article offers examples from responses to French Pacific nuclear testing, showing how access to compensation and other assistance has often been conditioned on threshold qualifications that function to limit downwind communities’ access to assistance and remedy. Victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offer opportunities to move beyond reductive policy logics to multifaceted, human rights‐based approaches to affected communities’ concerns.

Journal

Global PolicyWiley

Published: Feb 1, 2022

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