An illusion of safety

Challenges of nuclear weapon detonations for united nations humanitarian coordination and response

image of An illusion of safety
There is renewed and deep international concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the detonation of nuclear weapons in populated areas. Yet 25 years after the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence remain central to the security doctrines of a significant number of states. This volume explores the risks and consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation event especially for the United Nations system in terms of preparedness.




This study is the second phase of a UNIDIR project on humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons that initially began its work in January 2013. This second phase of project work, commencing in August 2013 and working toward this study, would not have been possible without the generous support of the governments of Norway and Ireland. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway we would like to thank, in particular, Sten Arne Rosnes and Per-Øyvind Landemoen. Ambassador Steffen Kongstad, Kjersti Nordskog Nes, and Stein-Ivar Lothe Eide at the Norwegian Permanent Mission in Geneva were unflaggingly supportive. Our thanks also go to Gerard Keown, Breifne O’Reilly, and Michael Hurley, at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland and to Irish Aid in Dublin, as well as to Ambassador Patricia O’Brien, and to Robert Jackson, at Ireland’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.


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