Officials from more than 120 countries were in Oslo this week for an international conference entitled the “Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.” After six decades of discussing non-proliferation, military strategies and disarmament, they thought it was time to put the human aspect on the agenda.
“The humanitarian perspective has, interestingly enough, never been at the top of the discussion,” Peter Maurer, president of the International Red Cross, told news bureau NTB. “It’s important that this dimension gets a voice.”
The conference, hosted by the Norwegian government, aimed to examine the human and developmental consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation, focusing on what happens on the ground. Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide opened the conference Monday morning along with Maurer, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, the secretary general of Norwegian People’s Aid, Liv Tørres, and Rashid Khalikov, director of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Eide questioned whether the world would be able to handle the humanitarian catastrophe that would result from detonation of a nuclear bomb. There currently are an estimated 19,000 nuclear weapons in the world with collective explosive power equalling 100,000 of the bombs used by the US against Japan in 1945, according to the ministry.
The US, Russia, Great Britain, France, Israel, China, North Korea, India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons today. NTB reported that only India and Pakistan were officially represented at the conference in Oslo.