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International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation.
IPPNW was founded in 1980 by physicians from the United States and the former Soviet Union who shared a common commitment to the prevention of nuclear war between their two countries. Citing the first principal of the medical profession — that doctors have an obligation to prevent what they cannot treat — a global federation of physician experts came together to explain the medical and scientific facts about nuclear war to policy makers and to the public, and to advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals.
IPPNW received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Although the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US and Russia retained thousands of nuclear weapons ready to launch at a moment’s notice. Proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism have added to the nuclear danger in the post-Cold-War world. In recent years we have learned that even a limited, regional nuclear war using a fraction of the world’s nuclear weapons would cause irremediable harm to the Earth’s ecosystems and could result in the starvation of as many as two billion people in a “nuclear famine.”
IPPNW has remained a leader in the global movement for a world without nuclear weapons, launching the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in 2007, and working with numerous other NGOs to campaign for a treaty that will ban and eliminate these instruments of mass extermination under international law.
We recognize that the catastrophic health and environmental consequences of a nuclear war are at the extreme end of a continuum of armed violence that undermines health and security. IPPNW is committed to ending war and to addressing the causes of armed conflict from a public health perspective.
The 1990s global campaign to ban landmines marked IPPNW’s first major entry into the non-nuclear arena. The federation became engaged in addressing small arms violence in 2001 when we launched Aiming for Prevention, which has broadened to include all types of armed violence. Aiming for Prevention has been driven by IPPNW affiliates from the global South—primarily Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia—who live and work in areas where armed violence is a constant threat and consumes significant portions of health care budgets.
As part of Aiming for Prevention, IPPNW is an active participant in the World Health Organization’s Violence Prevention Alliance, and coordinates the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) Public Health Network.
Continuing medical education courses and trainings in the emerging field of Peace through Health have been developed by IPPNW affiliates with university affiliations in Norway, Denmark, the UK, and Canada. IPPNW supports and encourages this academic work to advance the understanding of the interconnections between peace and health.
IPPNW is supported in large part by donations from our members and from members of the general public who support our work. To make a donation online immediately, please visit our online donations page. For more information please visit Support IPPNW.