top of page

MEI in the News & Press Releases


Maddison addresses United Nations’ General Assembly on Day to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

CONTACT:  Benetick Kabua Maddison,, 479-365-7019 (office)

April L. Brown, Ph.D., Cofounder and COO,


Benetick Kabua Maddison, Executive Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative (MEI), addressed the United Nations as a representative of Civil Society on Tuesday in commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Maddison called for nuclear weapons states to stop stocking their arsenals and argued that the trillions of dollars spent on weapons would be better used for victims’ assistance and environmental remediation. The Marshall Islands was the United States’ testing ground for its most powerful nuclear weapons from 1946-1958; the consequences of the nuclear testing legacy are ongoing.


Benetick Kabua Maddison

Executive Director, Marshallese Educational Initiative


Address to the United Nations on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

United Nations, New York City, September 26, 2023



Honorable President, Excellencies:


I come to you as a member of a nuclear-affected community, to plea for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. This accomplishment would mark one of the most significant events in human history.


We all should know the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons. Those who do not, I encourage you to visit the diplomatic missions of nuclear-affected states and learn from them how these weapons have dramatically changed the lives of their people for the worse. Or better yet, visit their communities and see for yourselves the aftermath of the development, use or testing of these weapons of mass destruction.


In the case of my country, the Marshall Islands, where the United States tested 67 large-scale atomic and thermonuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958, the health, environmental, and cultural consequences of those detonations are ongoing.


Some parts of the Marshall Islands were forever changed by these tests. Some people cannot eat traditional foods, or practice traditional trades. Some communities cannot live in their rightful homelands in their own country. All Marshallese people are nuclear affected.


Those who experienced the worst fallout or were told it was safe to return to contaminated lands experienced the most direct consequences. Women and children were affected the most. Women began experiencing thyroid problems, and they gave birth to jellyfish babies – no legs, arms, eyes, mouth, or head.


The genetic impact remains.


Miscarriages, unfortunately, are common in my community. We also suffer from all types of cancer, including leukemia, ovarian, and liver cancers. Long term consequences of the contamination of our lands has resulted in a dependence upon imported, industrialized food that has directly contributed to our people now having one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world.


This is the reality on the lands of those who know first-hand the devastation of nuclear weapons development, use, or testing. Despite the experiences of these communities - those who are responsible – those who developed and continue to possess these weapons of mass destruction – focus instead on maintaining and even expanding their arsenals, all in the name of national security.


Whose security?


Nuclear weapons have destroyed the security of nuclear-affected communities. Their security in health, and in making a livelihood for their families.


Since the creation of the first nuclear bomb – Trinity – 78 years ago, countries with nuclear weapons have wasted trillions of dollars to develop and stock their arsenals.


I suggest a better use – a just use - of this funding go toward victims’ assistance and environmental remediation.


In 1954, days after the devastating Bravo detonation on Bikini Atoll, leaders of the Marshall Islands sent a letter to this body asking that it force the United States to stop testing.

They wrote: “Land means a great deal to the Marshallese. It means more than just a place you can plant your food crops and build your houses; or a place where you can bury your dead. It is the very life of the people. Take away their land and their spirits go also.”

Though the spirits of my people cannot be made whole, today, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, I, like my ancestors before me, demand nuclear justice, and I ask the world to reaffirm its commitment toward a world without nuclear weapons.

MEI team visits Majuro, Ebeye;

first visit to homelands for some

Team members, Benetick Kabua Maddison, ED, Carlnis Jerry, Program Director of MREC, Marcina Langrine, Program Manager, and Lori Dean, MEI Board member, visited the Marshall Islands from Sept. 4-15. The team visited with individual government officials, government agencies, the College of the Marshall Islands, and local nonprofit organizations. For Maddison and Jerry, it was the first time returning to their home nation in twenty years; it was Langrine and Dean's first time to visit the Islands.

This year MEI celebrates its 10th anniversary as a nonprofit organization, and welcomes many more visits to the RMI.

Story about the visit published in the Marshall Islands' Journal, Sept. 15, 2023.

Maddison editorial in MI Journal
MEI issues March 1 statement by ED on NVRD; advocates for nuclear justice in an inclusive Compact

Statement published in the Marshall Islands JournalFriday, March 17, 2023

Maddison meets with advocacy groups in DC, February 2023

Organized by Global Zero and hosted by Ploughshares, MEI's Executive Director, Benetick Kabua Maddison, met with several advocacy groups to discuss MEI programming and explain some of the challenges faced by Marshallese community members in diaspora in the United States. The meeting was the first in-person meeting with various advocacy groups. We look forward to ongoing and future collaboration to amplify Marshallese voices and for nuclear justice for all affected communities.


The Marshallese Educational Initiative, a Springdale-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announces that Benetick Kabua Maddison has been named Executive Director. Maddison most recently served as Assistant Director and Project Specialist for Youth, Nuclear, and Climate Issues. Maddison first joined MEI in 2014 to assist with the Marshallese Oral History Project while still in high school. He took over as Director in July 2022.


On September 7, 2022, Maddison addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City on the ongoing consequences of the nuclear legacy to commemorate and promote the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. He also delivered the youth address at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference at the United Nations in August, 2022, and led a youth delegation to Vienna, Austria, to attend the U.N. Conference on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in June, 2022. The Marshall Islands was subjected to 67 nuclear weapons’ tests from 1946-1958, the biological, ecological, and cultural consequences of which are ongoing.

Screen Shot 2022-09-08 at 7.12.17 PM.png

MEI's work on Climate Justice feature in Reuters story

by David Sherfinski, "Migrants share lessons with US to improve climate resilience," Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug. 19, 2022

Maddison leads MEI team to participate in United Nations' Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Conference, July 29-Aug. 13th; Addresses UN General Assembly as Youth Representation with Civil Society. 

Photos below (clockwise):  Benetick being interviewed by a reporter from Japan, speaking at the GA, with NAPF President, Dr. Ivana Hughes, and Matthew, Benetick, and Marino at the UN.

imagejpeg_0 6.jpg
Screen Shot 2022-08-25 at 2.52.38 PM.png
imagejpeg_0 5.jpg

MEI Press Release, June 13, 2022

"MEI team to participate in Nuclear Ban Conference; Maddison to speak on nuclear legacy"


A team from the Marshallese Educational Initiative will participate in the ICAN Civil Society Conference leading up to the United Nations meeting on the TPNW in Vienna, Austria on June 18-19. The Marshall Islands was used by the United States as a testing ground for nuclear weapons from 1946-1958, the effects of which are still being felt by community members.

imagejpeg_0 7.jpg
Screen Shot 2022-06-14 at 12.10_edited.jpg
Nuclear 5_edited.jpg

Resilience in community: Marshallese leaders race to fill gaps in aid amid ‘existential threats’ - Despite lack of federal attention, the effects of America’s nuclear legacy, and climate disasters, Marshallese people still cling to hope for a renewed future.

by Javan Santos and Joshua Yang from The Yappie, May 11, 2022

MEI recognized as partner in local Community of Practice cohort led by UAMS to help address food insecurity in the region

KUAF, March 2, 2022 - "UAMS partners with local organizations to address food insecurity in NWA"

Benetick Kabua Maddison.jpg

MEI Press Release, Nov. 3, 2021 -
MEI Assist. Dir. Benetick Maddison Speaks at Yale Club in NYC; Addresses Nuclear Justice, Urges Youth to Raise Awareness

MEI hosts Women's Conference in honor of Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Oct. 29, 2021
Visit our Facebook page for more photos!

Women's event flyer.jpeg
Screen Shot 2021-11-16 at 1.10.49 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-11-16 at 1.09.04 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-11-16 at 1.10.23 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-11-16 at 1.10.36 PM.png

Article on MEI's work for nuclear justice; partnership with RTT and Lovely Ulmayam

Olivia Paschal, "The long road to nuclear justice for the Marshallese people," Facing South, April 2, 2021

OIA's Tanya Joshua interview with MEI staff about the work we do; COVID-19's impact

OIA Conversations, June 10, 2021, YouTube Video

Carlnis Jerry Marshallese Educational Initiative.jpg

KUAF audio story about MEI's commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the 1st nuclear test in the Marshall Islands on Bikini Atoll, July 7, 2021

Article about Coldwell Banker's donation drive for MEI to assist Marshallese families due to impact of COVID-19

5 News Online,"Organizations asking for donations to aid Marshallese educational initiative amid coronavirus pandemic," July 10, 2020

Outreach to Pocahontas
Visit of Speaker Kenneth Kedi
Tornado response.png
Richard Laraya on the scene of tornado.png
MEI participates in Springdale Art Walk
Visti by HE Amb. Amaitlain Kabua
Outreach in Bentonville, AR.png
Outreach to Schools.png
MEI facilitated visit to the Universary of Arkansas.png
Reclaiming our Future webinar
Outreach to Schools in NWA.png
Empowering First Nations and Indigenous Communities Webinar
Visit with Amb Kabua.png
Amnesia Atomica exhibit with Kazahkstan Councilor.png

MEI News Archive


NPR feature on Mentorship Program, 2016

"Marshallese College Students Mentor Middle School Students in Springdale," KUAF, 91.3 FM, interview by Jacqueline Froelich, November, 2016

Mark Abide, "Marshallese 'Climate Refugees' Could Soon be Headed to this Middle America Town," Business Insider, Feb. 6, 2016

MEI team members interviewed for article.

Feature article (solicited) in Reflections about the MOHP

April Brown, "Marshallese Oral History Project: Stories from Arkansas' Latest Wave of Pioneers," Reflections, Arkansas Humanities Council, Vol. 38, Issue 4 (Winter 2015):5-6.

Feature on MEI Cofounder, Dr. Jessica Schwartz, 2015

Serena Golden, "UCLA's Professor of Punk," UCLA Magazine, March 23, 2015.

Laukon speaks at Techno-Utopianism & the Fate of the Earth conference, New York City, 2014

Neisen Laukon, "Present at Birth," Techno-Utopianism & the Fate of the Earth, International Forum on Globalization, Oct. 25-26, 2014 

Watch video on YouTube

Stege speaks at American Museum of Natural History, New York City, 2014

Tina Stege, "Islands at the Edge with Jenny Newell and Tina Stege," SciCafe, American Museum of Natural History, Oct. 1, 2014. 

Watch video on YouTube

Schwartz speaks at U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, DC, 2014

"Nuclear Weapons Testing: History, Progress, Challenges," Embassy of Kazakhstan & Partners, Sept. 15, 2014.

Article (solicited) on Castle Bravo in Arms Control Association publication

April L. Brown, "No Promised Land: The Shared Legacy of the Castle Bravo Nuclear Test," Arms Control Today, March 2014.

NPR Interview with Dr. Schwartz about her research on radiation songs, 2013 

Jessica A. Schwartz, "Marshallese Radiation Songs," KUAF, 91.3 FM, interview by Jacqueline Froelich, July 2013.

bottom of page