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Bradford academic presents nuclear justice research to UN


A University academic smiles and stands in front of sign for the United Nations

A University of Bradford academic has presented her research on nuclear weapons justice to the United Nations.

Dr Becky Alexis-Martin, Lecturer in Peace, Science and Technology at the university, presented ‘Epistemic Nuclear Justice: Changing What We Don’t Know’, to delegates in Geneva, Switzerland.

Epistemic nuclear justice aims to ensure communities know that they have a right to their own history, their health issues are taken seriously, and any environmental harms are recognised. It also looks to ensure communities have an opportunity to take part in the democratic process of making global policy. 

Dr Alexis-Martin said it is important her paper is co-authored by both community leaders and international academics. The research is the outcome of the fieldwork she carried out in summer 2023. 

‘Community stories are heard’

Her project will contribute to defining ‘nuclear justice’ for the next stage of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

She presented the research to representatives from New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Indonesia at the Palais des Nations – the UN’s location in Geneva. She will publish a community co-authored paper with the same title in the near future. 

Dr Alexis-Martin said: "It felt good to see the results of the project shared back to the community that it will benefit most. 

“It's really important that the truth of community stories are heard by the UN. I'm grateful to be given space to help support this process.”

A large group of people standing together and pose for a photograph

A further nuclear justice paper was presented by invitation at the Alva Myrdal Disarmament Center in Sweden in June 2024 and will go to journal submission this month. 

At the event, held in June, Dr Alexis-Martin worked with an international team to define ‘nuclear justice’, which draws on the fieldwork she carried out throughout last year. 

Long-lasting effects 

Her research presentation in Geneva also built on her contribution to the Second Meeting of States Parties for the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, held in November 2023, at the UN headquarters, in New York. She was accompanied by six young women from a Pacific island, aged between 18 and 25, who she met following her visit last year as part of her research. 

Dr Alexis-Martin travelled to Kiritimati in the Pacific Islands to research the effects of nuclear weapons testing on the Pacific region. 

During last year’s visit, she spoke to residents to understand the long-lasting effects of the 33 nuclear weapons tested by the US and UK around Kiritimati between 1952 to 1962. According to the Kiritimati Association of Atomic Cancer Patients, 189 families became unwell after the tests. 

As part of her previous research, between 2016 and 2018, Dr Alexis-Martin interviewed 144 members of the nuclear test community in the UK about their experiences. The project is filed within the House of Commons library and contributed towards the campaign to award veterans the Nuclear Test Medal, on the grounds of cultural, social, and health reasons.