ICAN-Africa launched in Livingstone
ICAN-Africa was launched at the 6th African Regional Safe Communities Conference in Livingstone, Zambia, during the week of July 4. Senior campaigner Arielle Denis joined IPPNW’s African leaders and representatives from the World Health Organization, the University of South Africa, Mozambique University, the Zambian Ministry of Health, and the Zambian Road Traffic Safety Agency to discuss the ways in which the nuclear abolition issue presents itself in the larger context of armed violence, human rights, and development in Africa, and to draft a campaign plan that can engage civil society groups and governments in the region to work for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.
The Safe Communities Conference itself, chaired by IPPNW Co-president Robert Mtonga, addressed a broad range of safety and security problems including landmines, domestic injuries, interpersonal violence, deaths and injuries from small arms and light weapons, and even traffic injuries, which are a growing problem in African countries. The conference drew more than 80 researchers, physicians, NGO representatives, and officials from the WHO and governments.
Although threats from nuclear weapons can appear somewhat remote to many Africans, given these other very immediate health and security concerns, participants at the conference proved eager to work for a nuclear-weapons-free world. Dr. Mtonga spoke about nuclear abolition from both an African and a global perspective, highlighting the fact that the entire continent is already a nuclear-weapons-free zone under the Treaty of Pelindaba; Ms. Denis gave an overview of ICAN strategies and goals; and Nigerian medical student Homsuk Swomen presented IPPNW’s findings about nuclear famine and how global climate disruption from even a limited nuclear war in another part of the world could have catastrophic effects on agriculture and access to food in Africa.
A Target X installation in the streets of Livingstone drew so much attention on the opening day of the conference that a second event was organized for later in the week and was covered by Zambian national television, which also interviewed Ms. Denis. At an IPPNW African Regional Meeting held in conjunction with the Safe Communities Conference, affiliates discussed a number of ways to make ICAN and nuclear abolition an ongoing part of their work, including approaching African celebrities to endorse the campaign and to speak out on behalf of a nuclear-weapons-free world.