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International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is a
non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 62
countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical
students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share
the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world
freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation.
IPPNW was founded in 1980 by physicians from the United States
and the former Soviet Union who shared a common commitment to
the prevention of nuclear war between their two countries.
Citing the first principal of the medical profession — that
doctors have an obligation to prevent what they cannot treat — a
global federation of physician experts came together to explain
the medical and scientific facts about nuclear war to policy
makers and to the public, and to advocate for the elimination of
nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals.
IPPNW received the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1985. Although the Cold War ended with the
collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US and Russia retained
thousands of nuclear weapons ready to launch at a moment’s
notice. Proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism have
added to the nuclear danger in the post-Cold-War world. In
recent years we have learned that even a limited, regional
nuclear war using a fraction of the world’s nuclear weapons
would cause irremediable harm to the Earth’s ecosystems and
could result in the starvation of as many as two billion people
in a “nuclear
IPPNW has remained a leader in the global movement for a world
without nuclear weapons, launching the International Campaign
to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in 2007, and working
with numerous other NGOs to campaign for a treaty that will ban
and eliminate these instruments of mass extermination under
We recognize that the catastrophic health and environmental
consequences of a nuclear war are at the extreme end of a
continuum of armed violence that undermines health and security.
IPPNW is committed to ending war and to addressing the causes of
armed conflict from a public health perspective.
The 1990s global campaign to ban landmines marked IPPNW’s first
major entry into the non-nuclear arena. The federation became
engaged in addressing small arms violence in 2001 when we
launched Aiming for
Prevention, which has broadened to include all types of
armed violence. Aiming for Prevention has been driven by IPPNW
affiliates from the global South—primarily Sub-Saharan Africa,
Latin America, and South Asia—who live and work in areas where
armed violence is a constant threat and consumes significant
portions of health care budgets.
As part of Aiming for Prevention, IPPNW is an active participant
in the World Health Organization’s Violence Prevention Alliance,
and coordinates the International Action Network on Small Arms
(IANSA) Public Health Network.
Continuing medical education courses and trainings in the
emerging field of Peace through Health have been developed by
IPPNW affiliates with university affiliations in Norway,
Denmark, the UK, and Canada. IPPNW supports and encourages this
academic work to advance the understanding of the
interconnections between peace and health.