The Marshall Islands today

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Recently, the authorities of the Marshall Islands have tried to involve the United Nations in order for them to assume their share of the responsibility in allowing the United States to carry out nuclear tests while acting as a UN administrator and, in this regard, they have asked the UN to put pressure on the government of the United States to finally provide adequate compensation.

In September 2012, Calin Georgescu, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxic waste, in his report on the Marshall Islands, emphasised what the nuclear tests had meant for communities, the loss of their indigenous way of life and that it had had long-term negative consequences on the health of the people. That is the reason he encouraged the United States to fulfil its responsibilities to the Marshall Islands people by providing "full funding for the Nuclear Claims Tribunal to award adequate compensation for past and future claims." 

Even today, nuclear issues remain at the centre of the complex geopolitical relationship between the United States and the Marshall Islands. The consequences persist. The population of the islands suffers from health problems including high rates of cancer and diabetes; there are no permanent oncologists nor adequate treatments against cancer such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy; and there is no consensus between the Department of Energy of the United States and the government of the islands about the effects of exposure during and after the tests. But apart from the problems caused by the direct incidence of radiation, there are others problems such as unemployment, alcohol consumption among young people and diabetes and obesity caused by the consumption of imported processed products such as chicken and rice [1].

Newly picked bananas in the food preparation of women in Majuro, Marshall Islands.Asian Development Bank. Newly picked bananas in the food preparation of women in Majuro, Marshall Islands.

One of the advantages of the agreement with the United States is that the citizens of the Islands can work in that country indefinitely without needing a visa. The most promising students often emigrate there or enter the army, and they rarely return. Bilateral relations also provides for the existence of scholarships. The United States Army still leases a handful of islands north of the Kwajalein Atoll. Currently, the main threat to the Marshall Islands is climate change which manifests itself in high tides that force many people to evacuate and which, in some ways, brings back "the ghosts of the past”.

[1] A ground zero forgotten. The Marshall Islands, once a U.S. nuclear test site, face oblivion again. The Washington Post. November, 2015