World Congress of the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) was held in York

by Dr Matin Baraki

The organisation IPPNW – an international grouping of physicians – also has a German section (“Internationale Ärzte für die Verhütung des Atomkrieges, Ärzte in sozialer Verantwortung e.V.”), which mainly works for the disarmament of nuclear weapons.
In 1985, the organisation received the Nobel Peace Prize for its “considerable service to mankind by spreading authoritative information and by creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare”.
For the 22nd time, this international meeting was held in York (Great Britain) in September with approximately 600 guests from all over the world.
The strong presence of representatives from India and Japan was conspicuous. The “face” of the meeting was characterized by young people who’s messages contributed to the constructive progress achieved at this meeting. The Congress called for a peaceful coexistence of all nations without nuclear bombs and set its goal of contributing to the enforcement of the worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.
In the opening speech, the President of the Conference pointed out that it would be a matter of convincing all nations to support the nuclear weapons ban agreement, which is already supported by 486 organizations from 130 countries around the world.
It was emphasised that with the escalation of the conflict between North Korea and the USA, the acute danger of the actual use of nuclear bombs is growing today. A study was presented which informed of the consequences of such an operation. Just 50 bombs – if India and Pakistan were to use them in the event of a war – would kill 30 million people immediately. The resulting global nuclear climate change would lead to further 200 million deaths. Never was the danger that the human species could be extinguished, as great as today.
The text of the nuclear weapons ban agreement shows how the countries can exit of this program. The treaty is to be enshrined in international law, and the ideas of “collective security” in the partner organisations and states are to be disseminated. However, with the current strategy of the nuclear powers, the existing power structures in the world are being cemented. This makes a change in the status quo more difficult. Indeed, these powers do not intend to dissolve the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but they also do not want to sign it, explicitly referring to India and Pakistan.
Delegation members reported on their work and the struggle of the peace forces in their countries. The British nuclear bomb opponents see their focus on obtaining a ban on British nuclear submarines. They pointed out that for the US armaments industry, the nuclear bomb is a “sacred cow”. In the USA peace movement, the medical and humanitarian consequences of a nuclear weapon deployment are addressed in order to mobilise the people there against the nuclear bomb. A Russian representative emphasised that for the government of Russia nuclear safety was the first priority to promote conditions for the abolition of the nuclear bomb. An Indian delegate emphasised the role of UNO and criticised the Indian mass media, which hardly reports on the subject of the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The Japanese participant pointed out the confrontational behaviour of North Korea and the USA, which has reached a frightening stage. But these tensions can only be solved politically. The US administration should respect the sovereignty of North Korea. Australia, like the Federal Republic of Germany, put themselves under the nuclear protection shield of the USA. Therefore, the government in Canberra has no interest in banning nuclear bombs, declared an Australian delegate. While a Norwegian participant called for the necessary popularisation of prohibition in his speech, the delegate from Costa Rica highlighted the role of his country as the most committed country for a ban, pointing out that 25 to 30 Latin and Central American countries had signed the contract on the prohibition of nuclear bombs. Costa Rica presented the prohibition agreement to the UNO in 1997. All African states are nuclear-free, and South Africa, which already had the nuclear bomb, has, however, ceded it long ago, as a guest from Kenya informed.
The Afghan delegate presented a “peace plan” for Afghanistan, the implementation of which would require the replacement of the NATO military by military units from the Islamic and non-aligned countries. The already 38-year war in the Hindu Kush shows that only a political solution of the conflict is promising. For this solution, a concept and a program should be developed and implemented by the Afghans themselves, in accordance with the local conditions, involving the broad masses of the population and all political groups, including the Taliban.
It was emphasised that the USA did not sign the Cluster Bomb Prohibition Treaty, however, stopped its production. Here the normative force of a treaty becomes clear, which in the case of a prohibition of nuclear bombs could have a similar effect.
In meetings of the regions (Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, South Asia and Southeast Asia and the Pacific) and in numerous workshops, the participants discussed and deepened the questions and problems presented in the plenary session.
A British soldier who was deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland gave a historical overview of the brutality of the British Empire, in which the continuity of the warfare of British imperialism was unmistakable. His appearance turned out to be a highlight of the Congress.     •
(Translation Current Concerns)