Nuclear Weapons | Report

Racial Inequalities and Nuclear Policy

Sylvia Mishra and Wardah Amir | February 2022


There is a serious lack of attention given to the racist legacies of the nuclear explosive testing and uranium mining that created nuclear weapons. Those legacies entail death, disease, and dislocation inflicted on the Indigenous and other communities in former colonies throughout the developing world.

To delve deeper into the racist origins of nuclear policy and counter racial injustices in the nuclear policy field, this paper by Sylvia Mishra and Wardah Amir discusses race in the context of nuclear governance and policymaking. The paper sheds light on the origins of racist nuclear policies and underscores how decision making on nuclear weapons issues have been exclusive and deliberately selective. It analyzes international treaties, multilateral regimes, and decision making on disarmament, comparing progress on the disarmament of chemical and biological weapons (and the lack thereof) with nuclear weapons. The research also includes interviews with experts who study and work at the intersection of nuclear policy issues and race. Read the full report.

This paper is part of the 61st Strategy for Peace Conference: Disrupting the History of Racism in Peace and Security, co-organized by the Stanley Center for Peace and Security and Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS), taking place in early 2022. This series of reports coauthored by WCAPS members considers the history of global systemic racism in the fields of climate change, nuclear weapons, and mass violence and atrocity prevention.