RMI Min. Tony deBrum and the Republic of the Marshall Islands government were selected as "2016 Arms Control Persons of the Year" for their efforts to hold nuclear powers accountable, it was announced Monday by the ACA. The Marshallese leaders were selected among several nominees, including U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry and Foreign Ministers of several nations.
In April 2014 de Brum and the RMI government filed lawsuits against the nine nuclear nations, most of which had signed the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty stating that they would work toward nuclear disarmament. The lawsuits brought the issue of nuclear weapons testing and their proliferation to the world's attention. From 1946-1958 the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons on Bikini and Enewetak Atolls in the Marshall Islands. The Castle Bravo detonation in 1954 was 1,000 times the force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in Japan at the end of World War II.
Today, the world enters an era of uncertainty given the naive and cavalier statements made by the President-Elect of the United States. In December, the President-Elect tweeted: "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." This statement, however nonsensical, hints at a new arms race.
It is our hope that world leaders recognize and listen to the people of the Marshall Islands who know first-hand the biological, cultural, and ecological consequences of nuclear weapons usage. We thank Min. deBrum and the RMI government for the brave step they took to hold nuclear states accountable, and we are grateful that the readers of Arms Control Association and supporters of nonproliferation around the world have recognized their efforts.