Goals and strategies
Working to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
IPPNW continues to unite and activate people across political divides to prevent nuclear war. The global threat posed by nuclear weapons is more acute, immediate and entrenched than ever, as even the head of IAEA, Mr. El Baradei recently pointed out. IPPNW works to bring the nuclear weapons states (the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India and Pakistan) to disarm their huge arsenals. Our understanding of the devastating potential of these weapons is rooted in the terrible experience of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Still - the weapons used in 1945 were tiny compared to most of the approximately 30,000 weapons in today's arsenals. A single modern weapon, exploded either intentionally or accidentally over a large city, is capable of slaughtering millions.
If a larger number of weapons are exploded, in form of an uncontrollable chain-reaction, the overall consequences will include not only short- and medium-term medical injuries in the billions, but also severe environmental effects, disruption of transportation, delivery of food, fuel, and basic medical supplies as well as famine and mass starvation on a global level.
The effects of a nuclear explosion are so devastating that many people today are in denial about the continued threat. At the same time, a succession of arms control agreements and the end of the Cold War have combined to create a popular myth that the threat of nuclear war has ended. IPPNW works to dispel this dangerous misconception that has lessened public pressure for the steps needed to end the nuclear threat. The myth is also dangerous because it underestimates the capacity and willingness of nations to wage war when their perceived interests are at stake and to use whatever weapons are necessary to secure those interests. Finally, it is dangerous because it perpetuates the system of nuclear double standards that grants the powerful states permission to maintain nuclear arsenals.
Click here to view some interesting facts of Nuclear Weapons in today's world.
Promoting peace and development
Because of our concern for global health in the broadest sense, IPPNW expanded its mission in 1991 to include the prevention of all forms of warfare and the promotion of alternate means of conflict resolution. Conventional warfare is responsible for human suffering and death on a pandemic scale. The 20th century has been the most violent in history, killing at least 110 million people. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, more than four million people, many of them women and children, have died in violent conflicts. Right now, more than 35 million people were refugees or had been displaced by war.
For many IPPNW affiliates - especially those in the developing world - the effects of war on public health are a reality of every day life. In war-torn countries, doctors work to heal the physical and psychological wounds of violent conflict. Because prevention of war is essential in ensuring health, IPPNW physicians travel to areas of worsening conflict to promote peaceful means of conflict resolution. This idea finds it concrete realization in the concept of "Peace through Health". Members of IPPNW's affiliates have been active in promoting peace in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the former Yugoslavia. Teams of IPPNW doctors also conduct fact-finding missions to assess and publicize the effects of conventional war and so-called low-intensity conflict on health. IPPNW medical students focus on the effects of war on children, raise awareness of the health effects of war, violence and nuclear arms amongst their peers, organize visits to refugee camps and are active in the landmines campaign, amonsgt other things.
IPPNW recognizes that war and militarism rob both rich and poor societies - especially the poor - of the resources needed to protect and promote health. In a world armed to the teeth, precious resources are poured into the military while billions go without food and health care. Accordingly, IPPNW advocates a readjustment of global priorities that will lead to a just and lasting peace. Whether delivering antibiotics and vitamins to famine victims in North Korea, speaking out on behalf of brutalized physicians in Nicaragua, conducting needs-assessment of AIDS-orphans in Kenya, or introducing a "War and Health" curriculum in Cuban medical schools, IPPNW physicians are working to counteract the overwhelming culture of violence and change it into one of peace.
IPPNW is also aware that environmental degradation, inequitable use of the world's scarce resources and population growth are potential sources of future conflicts. Freedom from war is a prerequisite to the global cooperation that will be needed to redress the environmental crisis. IPPNW sees opposition to war and militarism as an essential contribution to restoring and protecting the global environment.
As community, national and regional leaders, IPPNW physicians, medical students and other health professionals reach millions with the message of peace and health for all. Through speaking tours, symposia and media campaigns, IPPNW is helping to create a new way of thinking about global security. Our activists help educate decision makers, students and the general public about the continuing nuclear threat and the enormous costs of war to public health.
IPPNW publishes books and reports on its core issues as well as the newsletter Vital Signs and the journal Medicine and Global Survival. IPPNW experts frequently publish articles in newspapers and medical journals and appear on television or radio around the world. IPPNW World Congresses bring thousands of physicians, medical students, scientists, world leaders and activists together to share new scientific information on IPPNW issues and to express their common commitment to ending nuclearism and militarism. IPPNW has held Congresses in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Finland, Hungary, Germany, the Russia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Mexico and China. The latest World Congress was held in Finnland in 2006.