Nuclear Disarmament and the Protection of Cultural Heritage; Patricia Lewis; Chatham House

Mali – Old Towns of Djenné

States possessing nuclear weapons should be called upon to consider and publish the risks posed to cultural heritage, and their mitigation strategies, in their nuclear-weapons doctrines and policies.


  • Renewed risk assessments for nuclear weapons and policies are taking place around the world in light of nuclear modernization and the changing geostrategic environment that is making the use of nuclear weapons more likely. As such the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and tests have received increased attention. However, the effect on cultural heritage has so far been neglected.
  • The potential for armed conflict to destroy cultural heritage has been recognized in international law since 1954. There is significant evidence on the impact of nuclear weapons on cultural heritage including the consequences of their use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the effect of nuclear-testing programmes in places of cultural significance since 1945.

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