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Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis

June 27, 2022

The 8th Biennial Meeting of States of the UN Programme of Action (UN PoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons convened today at the UN headquarters in New York City. This 2001 international agreement’s overarching goal was to reduce human suffering. Over two decades later, the goal has not been realized. Health effects of the horrific gun violence that continues worldwide ranges from death to physical injury to mental and emotional consequences that can last a lifetime.

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Russia’s justifications for invasion are not persuasive

June 22, 2022

The Russian government’s justifications for its war in Ukraine―the largest, most destructive military operation in Europe since World War II―are not persuasive. 

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin’s primary argument in defense of the Russian invasion has been the threat of Ukraine joining NATO, that action, had it occurred, would have been perfectly legitimate under international law.  The UN Charter, which is an instrument of international law, does not ban membership in military alliances.  And, in fact, a great many such alliances are in existence.  Russia currently heads up the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance comprised of six nations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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Why Finland will seek NATO membership and why I still think we shouldn’t

May 11, 2022

by Kati Juva, PSR-Finland

Finland for decades has regarded itself as part of Western society, with shared values such as human rights and democracy. Step by step we have come loose from the sphere of interest of Russia and the former Soviet Union, first by ending our Agreement of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance in 1991, when the Soviet Union came to its end, then by joining the European Union and many other European organizations starting in 1995.

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Imperial nostalgia and its perils

May 9, 2022

Although great empires rank among the most powerful engines of world history, they are also among the most dangerous, especially as they brood over their decline.

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Nuclear weapons pose the greatest immediate threat to human health and welfare

May 2, 2022

Joint International Health Statement for the 1st Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Representing physicians, nurses, public health professionals, and medical students worldwide, we speak with a united voice on the urgent need to eliminate nuclear weapons as a matter of global health and survival. Updated evidence on the catastrophic consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, the acute and growing danger of their use, and the impossibility of any effective humanitarian and health response following nuclear explosions on populations, should underpin the work of the upcoming 1st Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

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Military and economic power once again fail to produce happiness

April 18, 2022

Although the rulers of the world’s major military and economic powers have repeatedly claimed that they are making their nations great again, their policies have not resulted in widespread happiness among their citizens.

That conclusion emerges from the recent World Happiness Report-2022, published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  Based on Gallup World Polls conducted from 2019 through 2021, this extensive study provides a revealing look at how roughly 150,000 respondents in 146 countries rated their own happiness.  The study’s findings underscore the limited levels of happiness in the world’s major military-economic powers.

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An upside to the end of privacy: it might someday abolish nuclear weapons

April 10, 2022

by Matt Bivens

In Stanley Kubrick’s comedic masterpiece “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” a series of unfortunate events has the world hurtling toward all-out nuclear war. Desperate to prevent this, the US president has the Russian ambassador brought to the White House’s top secret “War Room” for emergency consultations.

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Who speaks for the world?

April 8, 2022

Russia’s brutal war upon the nation of Ukraine should remind us that, for thousands of years, great powers have used their military might to launch military assaults upon smaller, weaker societies.

Since World War II alone, these acts of aggression have included France’s colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria, Britain’s military intervention in the Middle East and Africa, the Soviet Union’s military conquest of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan, China’s invasions of Tibet and Vietnam, and America’s wars in Indochina, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Today, great power crimes against humanity, often driven by imperial arrogance and ambition, remain a plague upon the world.

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The back story of the ban treaty

April 2, 2022

[This book review, which originally appeared in Medicine, Conflict and Survival in December 2021, has been updated and slightly revised. MCS is IPPNW’s designated journal.]

Banning the bomb, smashing the patriarchy, by Ray Acheson
The treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons: how it was achieved and why it matters, by Alexander Kmentt

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2017 and entered into force in January 2021, was the end product of a highly effective partnership of non-nuclear weapons states, civil society, and international organizations who engaged in a “humanitarian initiative” to advance the goal of nuclear disarmament. The process, which was simultaneously visionary and practical, well planned and improvised, organized and—occasionally—chaotic, played out over a relatively short seven-year period. As of this writing, the TPNW has 86 signatories, 60 of which have ratified it. The First Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) is now scheduled for June 2022, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and heightened threat of nuclear war as the backdrop.

The story of how the ban treaty process began and evolved, how and why it worked, who participated (and who did not), how it successfully challenged the status quo, what the TPNW does, and the impact it could have on the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, is told in two recent books by central participants, one a high-level diplomat, the other a civil society analyst and activist. Read in tandem, these important books help explain why so little progress had been made up until now to eliminate the world’s worst weapons of mass destruction, how a transformative treaty could change that, and why the nuclear-armed states consider the TPNW and its supporters so disruptive to their sense of geopolitical status and entitlement.

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Ukraine war shows nuclear deterrence doesn’t work; we need disarmament

March 27, 2022

By Rebecca Johnson

In late February, as his invasion of Ukraine became bogged down, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia’s nuclear forces had been put on ‘special alert’. This posturing is familiar in wargame scenarios. It frequently ends with nuclear weapons being launched.

So, how did we get back to believing that nuclear war is possible? Why didn’t ‘nuclear deterrence’ stop this from happening? And what comes next?

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