Unspeakable suffering: the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons

This publication examines the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and is aimed for civil society actors, academics, and governments that are interested in approaching weapons negotiations with a humanitarian lens. 

We hope it will be useful for the upcoming period that hopefully will be shaped by a reframing of the nuclear debate, and for challenging the rhetoric of the nuclear weapon possessors. By highlighting the reality of these weapons and what they would cause if used, this publication demonstrates that a stronger and more concrete commitment to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons must be made now.

Download the PDF here.


  • Executive summary
  • Part 1: Health
  • Part 2: Environment and agriculture
  • Part 3: Economy and development
  • Part 4: Law and order
  • Part 5: Case studies
  • Part 6: Conclusion - Preventing the unacceptable

Edited by Beatrice Fihn • Authors: Ray Acheson, John Burroughs, Lloyd J. Dumas, Ira Helfand, Barbara R. Johnston, Patricia Lewis, Magnus Løvold, Teresa D. Nelson, M.V. Ramana, Felicity Ruby, Tilman Ruff and Masao Tomonaga  Second edition (2021) • First published by Reaching Critical Will, a programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 2013.

This report was made possible with the kind contribution of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

We are delighted to offer the PDF for free, but please consider making a donation to Reaching Critical Will to help us continue to produce publications and other materials and information services that Reaching Critical Will provides.