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2nd Meeting of States Parties in New York – Day 4

Thursday 30 November was day 4 of the 2MSP. Below are reports from our interns at New York!

By Lucy Harrow (Pacific piece); Justine Vonpierre (Agency engagement).

Kazakhstan 's new generation and nuclear politics

By Justine Vonpierre

Members of the panel monitored by Medet Suleiman were :

Aigerim Seitenova, Aditya Akhmer, Yerdaulet Rakhmatulla, Zhilek Toktash, Alisher Khassengaliyev

The first question was : Why should we include young people in Kazakh nuclear legacy?

Kazakhstan suffered from about 460 nuclear tests by the soviet union. As soon as they won independence, peace was a key word of the policy and they ratified treaty on non proliferation or nuclear weapons.

Now the history of nuclear tests and nuclear disarmament should be taught in schools because the past generations don't have a memory of the trauma they experienced.

Education should teach about disastrous humanitarian and environmental consequences of the Soviet's nuclear testing in Kazakhstan. That's why they created Qazak Youth Initiative for Nuclear Justice.

The panel discussed how Kazakh youth sees it's involvement in nuclear politics.

Alisher Khassengaliyev spoke about the very interesting notion of " nuclear colonialism" explaining how the Soviet Union used the land of indigenous people against their will and without informing them about the use they were gonna do of their lands let alone the health and environmental consequences of it. It is a dehumanisation view on local people.

He then asked, " why can a decolonisation approach of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan help to reaper the disaster and the pains ?"

Kazakhstan needs to decolonise knowledge about what happened to build a policy of memory and preserve the memory of those who suffered.

The Kazakhstan government needs to protect more the interest of it's people.

Y. Rakhmatulla reminded us that nuclear disarmament is at the heart of Kazakhstan's foreign policy what makes it a leader of nuclear non proliferation in central Asia, especially in between Russia and China. He asked " how can people who suffered all around the world cooperate?"

Kazakhstan is gonna hist the next TPNW !

A role model for Asian countries.

Adiya made a very moving statement, telling how as a kid she kept hearing about this " magical fire mushroom" in her family. She learnt about it and was aware of it much later. She speaks about " Transgeneration justice" because of the ignorance the previous generations lived in. And still today Russia doesn't release any data about its tests, enabling the Kazakh people to measure the impact of it. Still today no one knows how much the lives of current and future generations will be affected by it.

She also leveled criticism at her own government claiming the lack of victims assistance they are providing. She said paradoxically that " victims have to prove that they are victims." This is the sad reality.

But the positive of it is that these young Kazakh are the first to not associate with the Soviet Union.

The discussion ended on thoughts about memories and the importance of nuclear narrative in the Kazakh national identity.

All of them encourage people affected by nuclear weapons and the next generations to speak out loud because storytelling is more important than numbers to understand how to process the trauma and go forward with a new and fairer knowledge of the past.

A very inspiring presentation from brave and wise young Kazakh people.

By Lucy Harrow

Kazkhstan suffers a "tragic nuclear legacy". This discussion aimed to bring more voices to multilateral fora, hosted by Medet Suliemen and Aigerim Seitenova. The panel was made up of young individuals from Kazakhstan who have created their own initiative Steppe Organization for Peace (STOP).

Speaker 1: Zhibek Toktash

She discussed the role of Kazakh youth to nuclear disarmament and the importance of education. Her own family experienced the effects of nuclear testing yet they did were not given any education on the issue and their schooling only focused on Soviet history. This created an ideology that Kazakhstan did not exist independently before and was given a right to exist by Russia. Education since then has improved and children are told about these issues yet the speaker feels this could still be enhanced such as discussing long term health issues and generational trauma. She believes that they should raise awareness within their country through peace and disarmament education.

Speaker 2: Alisher Khassengaliyev

Kazakhstan was a site of Soviet nuclear colonialism on indigenous land that was seen as remote, empty space. The people were not consulted or informed on the nature, purpose or risks. This extensive nuclear testing resulted in radioactive exposure and irreparable catastrophe. He feels a decolonial approach will help deal with the consequences and the importance of memory in this. This can strengthen international ties between scientists, young leaders and activists. He believes we need to protect the interests of local communities through awareness, demonstrations and campaigns. In this way they can give voices to other nations in their regions.

Speaker 3: Yerdaulet Rak

Nuclear disarmament is a vital part of the foreign policy within Kazakhstan and he believes they should lead their region, or even the world, in the fight towards nuclear disarmament. They are the only nuclear free zone in the northern hemisphere and the only one next to two nuclear armed states which demonstrates their leadership of this topic.

Speaker 4: Adiya Akhmer

Adiya is a fourth generation survivor of nuclear testing who grew up hearing stories of the magical fire mushroom. She demands transgenerational justice for the effects of the testing such as the many family members she has lost to cancer. She stresses the importance of victim assistance as she mentions she lives in fear whether herself or her children will experience similar consequences. Adiya commented on how the legal framework is not gender sensitive to the disproportionate effects felt by women and the gender pay gap. She mentions it is difficult to find information on how to get compensation. Adiya finishes her discussion by speaking of her excitement for when her generation come to power as she knows there will be big changes.

"Nuclear legacy is part of our past, present and future…"

  • Aigerim Seitenova

My thoughts: I throughly enjoyed this was discussion. This was one of the only discussions that showed real emotion and brought to light the importance of nuclear disarmament. It also highlighted how we are not doing an adequate job of victim assistance.


Reinforcing and strengthening the nuclear Taboo

By Justine Vonpierre

The panel :

  • Dr Nina Tannenwald, Senior Researcher in the Department of Political Science at Brown University

  • Dr J. Luis Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of International Security & Law at George Mason University

  • Professor Charli Carpenter, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

A discussion about reinforcing the discussion around nuclear weapons.

The panel tried to answer several questions such as :

  • What role does the TPNW play in reinforcing the nuclear taboo, and how can states parties ensure its effective implementation?

  • How can civil society contribute to the preservation and reinforcement of the nuclear taboo?

A lot of interesting notions were discussed such as " nuclear forgetting" ( forgetting about what leaving under nuclear threats means).

Charli Carpenter explained about her research on how the TPNW affects US public opinion because nuclear Taboo is very strong in the US .

For the survey she conducted she used birds metaphors comparing some people's behaviour and opinions with a ostriches, hawks and owls.

She concluded that " treaty information reduces American preferences for nuclear use even the use is not bound by the treaty." And that the " Science shows the TPNW can change hearts and minds even in non party states."

A Norwegian politician commented on the current difficulty to get umbrella states engaging with taboo talks. Norway for example was even pushing the NATO to threat Russia back with the nuclear weapon.

But nuclear Taboo is not a sign of power but vulnerability.


Prevention is the only cure: Public health case for nuclear disarmament

By Lucy Harrow

Hybrid discussion from various health professionals. Speaker 1: senior arms advisor for Red Cross 70 years ago, doctors, nurses and Japanese Red Cross saw the horror of atomic bombs. They struggled with a lack of bandages, medicines or blood transfusions meaning infections were common. We now see the longterm affects including gender impact. There was not and is not an international medical plan in response to a nuclear attack. So if we can not respond we have to prevent. On top of the obvious medical issues that arise from this problem, the environmental consequences further add to the medical issues in the long term. They finish the discussion by noting how the TPNW is a beacon of hope for achieving the impossible and the importance of article 6 and 7 for achieving the humanitarian objectives. Speaker 2: Gill Adynst The speaker is a nursing and health policy analyst, speaking on behalf of the international council of nurses. She mentioned how prohibition and disarmament is the only way to fight against nuclear related medical issues. Furthering the disproportionate gender effects is the 90% female nurse statistic. Nurses will be highly impacted by nuclear issues and in this way should be involved in the conversation. Speaker 3: medical student Young people play a huge role in shaping the political plane. She comments on how she feels the role of medical students is to become architects for a safe and healthy world. She mentions the importance of preventative medicine and how prohibition is preventative medicine for an illness we can not treat. Speaker 4: Bettina Borisch There is very little on health in geopolitics yet these tensions influence health discussions. This often results in a silent battle of political systems in situations like COVID leading to a lack of trust. She mentions that you need to question what political system favours global health? To prevent wars and other man made disasters we need to involve peacebuilding in the global health discussion. The prevention of war starts with creating deterrence that favours peace instead of war. Speaker 5: representation of the world medical association This was a plea for nuclear disarmament and the preservation of health and future. As physicians, they say no more, not now, not ever. Speaker 6: IPPNW co-president Costa Rica is a demilitarised country with a government that recognises the importance of civil society and science. He concludes with drawing attention to the life threatening aspect of nuclear war including the environmental impact to the stratosphere. He emphasised how we must prevent what we can not cure! It is important that the general public understand the risk and discuss it at home and in public areas. The concluding remarks drew attention to how nuclear bombs are designed to kill civilians and not in a combat environment. This should make clear the terrifying disregard to human life. My thoughts: this was an insightful discussion into the health aspect of nuclear disarmament which showed how the only possibility of controlling the effects of the issue was stopping it in the first place.


Misperception: how to convince nuclear-armed states By Lucy Harrow

The TPNW empowers countries that they have the right to speak up about nuclear weapons but also an obligation to. The different arguments for nuclear armed states are formed on learned realities and sets of beliefs that have hardened into ideologies. We need to undermine this faith through realist and not idealist arguments. His logic based argument is based on abandonment instead of dis-invention. He argues that nuclear weapons can be abandoned when no longer seen as useful which can be shown by the lack of practical application since their invention. My thoughts: this argument works logically but lacks emotion. This made me question whether logic or emotion was more essential in this fight.


This morning some of us celebrated St. Andrews day singing in front of the non-Violence, also known as The Knotted Gun, sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd

Some of us attended a screening : the Vow from Hiroshima a documentary Film

directed by Susan Strickler.

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