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The great evasion

January 18, 2021

Two related events—the 75th anniversary of the January 24, 1946 UN General Assembly Resolution 1 (which established a commission to plan for the abolition of nuclear weapons) and the January 22, 2021 entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (designed to finally implement that goal)—should be a cause for worldwide celebration.  

In fact, however, they are a cause for shame.  The nine nuclear powers have refused to sign the treaty and, instead, today continue to engage in a nuclear arms race and to threaten nuclear war—a war capable of destroying virtually all life on earth. Read more…

Farewell to a friend and mentor: H. Jack Geiger, 1925-2020

December 30, 2020

When I met Jack Geiger in 1987, he was already legendary. One of the founders of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a co-author—along with Vic Sidel, Bernard Lown, and others—of a series of groundbreaking articles about the medical consequences of nuclear war published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1962, he had just finished his term as PSR’s president when I joined the staff as communications director. I had no sooner arrived in Washington when my new boss, Jane Wales, sent me back to Boston to slow down, if not outright stop, a plan that Jack was developing with Vic and another board member, Jennifer Leaning, to start a new PSR journal. Much to Jane’s chagrin, I returned to Washington persuaded that the journal was a great idea. Much more important for me, I had met the three people who would be my mentors and, not infrequently, my most relentless taskmasters for many years to come. Read more…

Is the nationalist tide receding?

December 1, 2020

Nationalism—placing the interests of one’s own nation above the interests of other nations—has been a powerful force in world affairs for centuries.

But it seemed on the wane after 1945, when the vast devastation of World War II—a conflict fostered by rightwing, nationalist demagogues—convinced people around the globe of the necessity to transcend nationalism and encourage international cooperation.  Indeed, the widespread recognition of the interdependence of nations led to the creation of institutions like the United Nations (which established a modicum of global governance) and the European Union (which established a regional federation).

Thus, it came as a shock when, during the second decade of the twenty-first century, a new generation of nationalists, invariably rightwing populists, made startling political breakthroughs in their countries. Read more…

Always immoral, now a new treaty bans nuclear weapons

November 17, 2020

JOINT STATEMENT 16 November 2020

IPPNW, PEAC Institute and CoNGO welcome 50 states ratifications and imminent entry into legal force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

On October 24, 2020, exactly 75 years to the day the United Nations opened for business, Honduras became the 50th member state to ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). By crossing the 50 ratifications threshold, this means that in 90 days, on 22 January 2021, the treaty will enter into legal force and become international law, binding on the states that have already ratified it, and all those which subsequently ratify the treaty. Read more…

Nuclear disarmament for health: time to rejoice

November 13, 2020

by Mary-Wynne Ashford

The dream of the founders of the United Nations has finally come to fruition. The first resolution of the General Assembly on January 24, 1946 called for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction. Now at last, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons became law when the 50th country ratified it. The Treaty will come into force January 22, 2021, almost exactly 75 years after the first resolution. Canada has not yet signed. Read more…

The most consequential election

November 1, 2020

There has never been an election—or probably any single national event—of greater global moment than the impending US election. This could hardly be more evident than from the perspective of planetary health.  If Trump is returned to the White House for another four years and the Republican Party retains control of the US Senate, the prospects for reducing the growing danger of nuclear war appears bleak; and the decisive turn towards a low carbon future within the narrow time window needed to have any chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2°C will also be very much more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

On most health policies and those on the social, economic and environmental determinants of health, the past four years in the United States have seen major steps backward. Disregarding of scientific and medical evidence and expertise has had severe impacts not only for Americans, but people worldwide. Read more…

A turning point in the struggle against the bomb: the Nuclear Ban Treaty ready to go into effect

October 30, 2020

[The following article by Daryl Kimball was first published in Just Security, an online forum about national security law and policy in the US. Mr. Kimball is the executive director of the Arms Control Association.]

by Daryl G. Kimball

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) marks a turning point in the long history of the effort to reduce nuclear risks and to eventually eliminate the 13,000 nuclear weapons that remain today, 90 percent of which are held by the United States and Russia. On Oct. 24, Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the treaty, triggering its entry into force 90 days later, on Jan. 22, 2021.

That date will mark the first time since the invention of the atomic bomb that nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use, threat of use, and stationing of another country’s nuclear weapons on a state party’s national territory are all expressly prohibited in a global treaty. Read more…

I celebrate this moment with my brothers and sisters across the world

October 29, 2020

by Setsuko Thurlow

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has entered into force! This truly marks the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons! When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand. I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy. I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty. I have a powerful feeling of solidarity with tens of thousands of people across the world. We have made it to this point. Read more…

ICRC calls ban treaty entry into force “a victory for humanity”

October 26, 2020

In a statement following the 50th ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the treaty “allows us to turn our gaze towards the future; to imagine a world freed from these inhumane weapons no longer as a distant dream, but as an actual, achievable goal….Today is a victory for humanity.”

Mr. Maurer’s full statement is on the ICRC website.

Nuclear weapons – always inhumane and unacceptable, now illegal

October 24, 2020

[The following statement has been signed by IPPNW’s co-presidents—Tilman Ruff, Ira Helfand, Arun Mitra, and Daniel Bassey—on behalf of the Executive Committee.]

IPPNW welcomes 50 states ratifications and imminent entry into legal force of the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons


On October 24, Honduras became the 50th nation to ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). By crossing the 50 ratification threshold, this means that in 90 days, on 22 January 2021, the treaty will enter into legal force and become international law, binding on the states that have already ratified it, and all those which subsequently ratify the treaty. Honduras announced its ratification one day after Jamaica and Nauru joined the TPNW at the United Nations in New York. This is a historic achievement, an essential step to eliminate nuclear weapons, and an enormous win for planetary health. Read more…

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