The Humanitarian Impact of WMD
Giving a voice to survivors
Project Coordinator: Aayushi Sharma | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Humanitarian Impact of WMD on the Middle East (the Humanitarian Project) is a project that aims to build awareness about the effects of WMDs[i] on the population and the environment during the whole lifecycle of weapons: from the impacts of uranium mining, the pre-cursor chemicals and biological agents on local communities, through to the testing of such devices, and their use during times of conflict.
Amplifying the voices of WMD survivors and their lived experiences is a significant tool in building a discourse towards total WMD disarmament and non-proliferation, as has been evidenced by the effectiveness of a humanitarian focus on campaigns to prohibit landmines, cluster munitions and nuclear weapons in the last two decades.
The Humanitarian Project will bring forth and highlight the stories of the people who have suffered from the use or testing of WMDs in the Middle East. It will also draw attention to the various needs of the survivors as they are still struggling to obtain any form of humanitarian assistance to deal with the consequences of such attacks.
The recent history of the Middle East is littered with governments attempting to expand, test and use weapons of mass destruction. This includes the effects of French nuclear testing in Algeria (1962-1963); the use of chemical weapons by Egypt in Yemen (1962–1967); by Iraq on its own citizens (1988) and against Iranians during the eight-year war (1980–1988); and by Syria in multiple cases since 2013.[ii]
There are also continuing concerns over Israel’s nuclear weapons and the nuclear developments in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These non-proliferation challenges are further compounded by the lack of global nuclear weapons disarmament; regional proliferation risks as nations develop their own nuclear energy programs and uranium extraction; and the increasing threat of WMD acquisition and use by non-state actors.
These historical and contemporary WMD use and proliferation risks have been primarily viewed through a state security lens, with little regard toward their humanitarian consequences. Drawing attention towards the humanitarian impacts of WMDs will be an important contribution to the global non-proliferation and disarmament campaign.
I. Draw public attention to the humanitarian consequences of WMDs.
II. Empower diverse voices and grassroots organizations working with WMD survivors.
III. Engage directly with the WMD survivors in order to record their experiences as well as their needs.
IV. Forge partnerships with survivors, activists and CSOs in the region, along with international CSOs working on highlighting the humanitarian consequences of WMDs.
V. Raise funds for the WMD Survivors Assistance Programme in the region to make medical, psychological and financial assistance more accessible for the survivors.
VI. Develop a network that connects WMD disarmament experts with survivors.
VII. Develop media content such as interviews, podcasts and documentaries; humanising the survivors and letting their stories be known world-wide.
VIII. Produce a detailed body of research on the consequences of WMD usage on the people in the region.
IX. Incorporate the humanitarian consequences of WMD and a clause for Survivors Assistance and Environmental Remediation in the evolving METO Draft Treaty.[i]
[i] METO has developed four iterations of its Draft Treaty. These Draft Treaties, which evolved with the help of former diplomats, subject matter experts, and civil society partners, serve as a tool to diplomats working within the UN framework to negotiate a treaty text. The latest version of our Treaty Text can be found here: https://www.wmd-free.me/home/draft-treaty/draft-treaty-v4/
Podcast interview with a Chemical Weapon Attack survivor Zmnako Mohammad Ahmad. In the interview Zmnako details his pursuit to help amplify the voices of other survivors like him, the challenges and struggles survivors face, the need for tangible humanitarian assistance and the role of the state, as well as his vision for the Treaty text for a WMD free zone in the Middle East. Listen Here
Article on chemical weapons use in Halabja, Iraq titled, “Consequences of chemical weapons still felt by victims 34 years after the attack on Halabja, Northern Iraq.” Read More Here
[i] Weapons of Mass Destruction: biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons. The scope of this project is not limited to the schedule of prohibited substances contained in the Chemical Weapons Convention; within the scope of this project we also include other substances such as white phosphorous and depleted uranium.
[ii] Cindy Vestergaard, “A Chemical Weapons-Free Middle East?” Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 21, 2013, https://bit.ly/3JgwlMK. See also the 2005 International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on the “Radiological Conditions at the Former French Nuclear Test Sites in Algeria”, https://bit.ly/3x97E2r.
[iii] METO has developed four iterations of its Draft Treaty. These Draft Treaties, which evolved with the help of former diplomats, subject matter experts, and civil society partners, serve as a tool to diplomats working within the UN framework to negotiate a treaty text. The latest version of our Treaty Text can be found here: https://www.wmd-free.me/home/draft-treaty/draft-treaty-v4/