D. Rietiker "Dealing with Human Rights in the Nuclear Age: Focusing on Vulnerable Groups"

The "Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons", adopted in New York on 7 July 2017, includes a clause on victim assistance and environmental remediation (Article 6), imposing certain obligations on States Parties with a view to assisting victims of use of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing "in accordance with human rights law". By this reference to human rights law, this clause clearly builds a bridge between this branch of law and nuclear arms control law. The present contribution aims at highlighting the relevance of human rights to nuclear weapons.

The proposed study will assess the impact on human rights of the following activities: use of nuclear weapons, testing of these weapons, uranium mining and exploitation of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The study thereby suggests a broad approach to human rights, taking into account civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights.  

Regarding use of nuclear weapons, the most relevant human rights of the people directly affected by a nuclear weapons attack are the right to life, the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to private and family life, including the right to home, as well as the right to property, all of which belong to the category of civil and political rights.

Regarding nuclear weapons testing, uranium mining and nuclear power plant exploitation, the assessment will focus on economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to health or to a healthy environment, as well as the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food and clean water.

It is well established that radiation released by nuclear testing, uranium mining or in accidents occurring in a nuclear power plant cause particular harm to women and children, and to those groups that depend on an intact environment and their traditionally owned lands, in particular indigenous peoples. Therefore, the particular vulnerability and special need for protection of those groups will be a premise throughout the proposed study.