JUNE 1, 2023

Physicians for Social Responsibility has for decades been centrally focused on moving our world away from our gravest threats exemplified by nuclear weapons and our climate emergency. Against the backdrop of Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and rising tensions between the United States and China, we (SF Bay PSR’s Dr. Robert M. Gould and Dr. Tova Fuller) represented PSR National at the Twenty-Third World Congress of IPPNW held in Mombasa, Kenya in April. The Congress was the first in-person meeting of IPPNW since 2017.

The African setting for the conference helped contextualize conversations around the entire nuclear (weapons and power) enterprise, expanding our focus beyond the policies of the nuclear weapons states (NWS) to the entire world. While Russia and the US possess over 3,700 deployable nuclear weapons posing the biggest threat to regional and global nuclear war, the Ukraine war has also demonstrated the vulnerability of nuclear power plants in the midst of war as a clear and present danger to global health.

Multiple connections between nuclear and climate issues were addressed, including updated “Nuclear Winter” scenarios covering regional through global detonations of nuclear weapons provoking ever-higher levels of global famine. Many sessions exposed the dirty underside of the current promotion of nuclear power as our “climate solution.” These were led by African IPPNW leaders and community organizers providing dynamic presentations about ongoing struggles against the corporate and neocolonial forces promoting uranium mining in countries such as South Africa and Tanzania. This sparked rich discussion among participants about how we, as a global movement, could better oppose uranium mining to protect the devastation of communities while ending the cycle of nuclear plants, weapons, and waste.

Also covered were the ecological impacts of global militarism, exemplified by the fact that the Pentagon is the single largest institutional user of fossil fuels in the world. Amplifying these concerns, IPPNW, in its Congress Declaration stated: “Military and nuclear weapons spending divert massive resources and create enormous opportunity costs that diminish and delay climate action and also steal resources from many other areas of human and environmental need, including health, shelter, and education. Militarization and armed conflict fuel tensions that diminish international cooperation in many areas, including climate action and disarmament.” READ MORE here.

The Declaration also added: “The tragic invasion of Ukraine, now in its second year, has already claimed tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives, including more than 20,000 civilian casualties and several million displaced to other countries. The repercussions of the war for the world economy, including shortages of grain and other commodities, have been enormous. With more than 110 ongoing armed conflicts in the world today—more than 35 of them in Sub-Saharan Africa alone—we are reminded again that war and military actions are always unacceptable anywhere in the world.”

Flowing from this understanding, IPPNW issued an additional “Mombasa Appeal for Peace and Prevention of Nuclear War,” including the following key points. 

“As doctors, we therefore address those who bear responsibility for the survival of us all on behalf of all humanity: the adversaries at war, President Putin and President Zelensky; the governments of the nuclear-armed states, especially Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping; and the governments of the NATO countries and all those involved in the conflict in any way.

We demand the following: 

  1. An immediate ceasefire;
  2. The immediate withdrawal of all invading forces;
  3. All sides refrain from all measures that lead to further escalation of the war;
  4. Renunciation of the use of nuclear weapons by all nuclear-armed states;
  5. Entry into earnest negotiations on a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.”

There are numerous initiatives and proposals that could serve as a basis for such negotiations.

Due to the well-founded concern that the conflict over Taiwan will also turn into a war threatening humanity, our 3rd, 4th and 5th demands apply analogously here as well.

READ the entire statement here.

The intensity of our deliberations was balanced by the wonderful comradery experienced by participants, engendered by the warm hospitality of our African comrades who worked so hard to make this Congress such a success and provide us such an opportunity to rebuild our global community and revitalize our movement, for which we have immense gratitude!

In Peace and Solidarity,

Dr. Robert M. Gould            Dr. Tova Fuller
President, SF Bay PSR       Vice President, SF Bay PSR

Join our Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee.All health professionals, community health advocates, students, and trainees welcome! Please email intern@sfbaypsr.org. You are always invited to sign actions, volunteer on committees, attend events, share posts on social media, and of course, DONATE. 


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