Press Release: IFMSA and IPPNW

The Students of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW Students) and International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) Youth Call on our World Leaders.

The prevalence of peace is a major determinant of a society’s health and together they represent a vital determinant of a sustainable future and society. The deterioration of peace in many regions of this world has been associated with negative outcomes on health. Recent war strategies have breached international humanitarian law and used attacks on not only healthcare facilities but also healthcare workers and civilians as a tactic causing death tolls to rise. This is only one example of the threats we face. Taken one step further, a worrying question our young generation is facing is the possibility of a nuclear weapons race in the 21st century, a race that will render the world damaged. Certainly, the health and future of children and young people are disproportionately affected by war. The students of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) jointly express our deep concern on the need for sustainable peace for our future and the continuity of our mankind.

We are disheartened by recent rhetoric that threatens global peaceful coexistence. Internationally agreed treaties and norms exist to be respected and further strengthened. When nations come together to chart the best path for the world, it should be in the interest of every person to follow. The most critical of such prerogatives is when overturning particular norms and treaties threatens the existence of humanity. The INF-treaty, signed in 1987 and prohibiting intermediate-range ground-launched nuclear or conventional missiles symbolizes a historical milestone in the global disarmament process. The treaty marked the first time when the former Soviet Union and the U.S. agreed to eliminate their nuclear arsenals within certain ranges. Its possible termination would, therefore, be a major rebound in international disarmament efforts and could cause another global arms race. The current escalation between the U.S. and Russia contrasts sharply the development of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) – whose status is currently in the process of signature and ratification since 2017 – with 69 signatories and 19 states parties thus far. Weapons of indiscriminate and disproportional mass destruction such as biological weapons have been successfully banned and efforts to ratify the treaty prohibiting the most dangerous and evil of them – nuclear weapons – are being put into force.

As medical students and future health professionals, we are alarmed by the existential threat of normalization of violent militaristic approaches to solving conflicts that often lead to mass civilian casualties and the role of the unregulated arms trade in escalating violent conflicts. In addition, we are saddened by the reactionary rather than proactive means of peacebuilding in countries & dismayed by the prolonged humanitarian crises that prevent children from going to school, youth from engaging in peaceful citizenry and parents from nurturing their young in the arms of harmonious societies.

Thus, on behalf of our members and future health professionals from around the world, IPPNW
Students and IFMSA jointly call upon the leaders of our world to:
– Adhere to all previously negotiated anti-nuclear treaties such as INF; only adding amendments
that seek to strengthen them should the need arise
– Sign, ratify and implement the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) keeping in mind the
importance and long-term implications of such a treaty
– Promote peacebuilding discussions that aim to support current and future leaders in protecting
societies worldwide, in addition to withholding debates that risk world peace