A Red Cross and Red Crescent call to action on nuclear weapons
The Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement renewed its call for the elimination of nuclear weapons at the IFRC’s General Assembly this month in Sydney, Australia.
The resolution, “Working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons,” was adopted unanimously and reiterated the Movement’s concern, expressed two years ago in a similarly worded resolution, about “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, including the unspeakable human suffering that their use would cause and the threat that such weapons pose to food production, the environment and future generations.”
The Movement once again called for global action to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, that their use is prohibited under international law, and that they are “completely eliminated.”
The new resolution includes a four-year action plan and urges all national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to help implement the plan through public education activities and by engaging with their governments to promote “concrete steps leading to the negotiation of a legally binding international agreement to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons – based on existing commitments and international obligations – and to conclude such negotiations with urgency and determination.”
The IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been vocal in their conclusion that it would be impossible to organize a meaningful medical and humanitarian response to the use of nuclear weapons—a view with which IPPNW has always agreed. The new action plan makes a special point of this reality, encouraging national societies to “engage with national disaster-planning agencies (a) to examine the likely humanitarian consequences of a nuclear detonation on national territory or in the region and the agencies’ response capacity, and (b) to encourage involvement of disaster-planning officials in the development of national positions on nuclear weapons.”
IPPNW Co-Presidents Tilman Ruff and Ira Helfand have regularly consulted with ICRC and IFRC leaders about our common position on nuclear weapons, providing medical and scientific expertise and assisting with the development of materials such as a new ICRC booklet, Climate effects of nuclear war and implications for global food production.
Dr. Ruff praised the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement’s “collective resolve to work for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” as a humanitarian imperative, and encouraged IPPNW affiliates to “explore opportunities to work with [their national societies] to help implement the resolution.”