History of IPPNW

Bernhard Lown                                       Yewgenij Chazow

IPPNW's First Two Decades

Drs. Bernard Lown, James Muller, and Eric Chivian from the US meet in Geneva with Drs. Eugueni Chazov, Leonid Ilyin, and Mikhail Kuzin from the Soviet Union and agree to organize an international physicians movement to combat the nuclear threat.

Dr. Bernard Lown: A Documentary from Lown Foundation on Vimeo.

IPPNW's First World Congress is held in Airlie, Virginia, and is attended by 80 physicians from 12 countries. The Congress attracts press coverage, generates scientific research, and provides the foundation for building an international movement.

The Second World Congress is held in Cambridge, UK, and is attended by 200 physicians from 31 countries.

Soviet and U.S. physicians from IPPNW appear on Soviet television for an unprecedented live, unedited discussion on the consequences of nuclear war. Seen by 100 million Soviet viewers, the program is later broadcast in the US.

IPPNW publishes Last Aid: the Medical Dimension of Nuclear War. The book is translated into several languages and is used at leading medical schools worldwide.

The Third World Congress is held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and is attended by more than 300 physicians from 43 countries.

The Fourth World Congress is held in Espoo, Finland, and is attended by 500 physicians from 53 countries. The Impact of Nuclear War on Children and Adolescents, an international research study co-sponsored by IPPNW, is presented.

UNESCO honors IPPNW with its Peace Education Prize, citing "especially remarkable activity to inform public activity and mobilize the conscience of mankind for peace."

During the first tour of IPPNW's new East-West Physicians Campaign, a team of Soviet and US physicians visits five US cities to educate the public about the medical consequences of nuclear war and to promote East-West relations.

The Fifth World Congress of IPPNW is held in Budapest, Hungary, and is attended by 800 physicians from 60 countries. The federation now represents more than 135,000 physicians in 41 national affiliates. New emphasis is placed on the relationship between development and disarmament and the need for a nuclear test ban.

IPPNW formulates a "Medical Prescription," calling for a moratorium on nuclear testing. Weeks later, the USSR announces that it will discontinue its testing program for the rest of the year. IPPNW launches an international campaign for a mutual moratorium.

In December, IPPNW receives the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The Nobel Committee commends IPPNW for "considerable service to mankind by spreading authoritative information and in creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare."

IPPNW Co-Presidents Lown and Chazov meet with Mikhail Gorbachev and help persuade him to extend the Soviet Union's unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons testing.

Fifteen hundred physicians from 65 countries examine the moral and ethical aspects of nuclear weapons at IPPNW's Sixth World Congress in Cologne, Germany.

IPPNW leaders travel through the USSR, China, and Japan on the first leg of IPPNW's Global Campaign. Subsequent legs take IPPNW leaders through five continents on their mission to educate physicians and build the movement.

The Seventh World Congress is held in Moscow, USSR, and is attended by more than 2,000 physicians from 70 countries. Representing more than 175,000 physicians, IPPNW is now the fasting growing medical organization in the world.

IPPNW co-sponsors the International Scientific Symposium on a Nuclear Test Ban in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Soviet Union conducts the first nuclear test of 1988, triggering protests from IPPNW affiliates as part of the new Cease-Fire campaign. Affiliates continue to protest every single nuclear test.

The Eighth World Congress is held in Montreal, Canada, and is attended by 2,500 physicians from nearly 80 countries.

Crosby, Stills and Nash and Bruce Cockburn, together with musicians from the USSR and Canada perform at IPPNW's Concert for Peace. IPPNW's Concert Tour for Peace begins in Berlin (West). Under the direction of the late Antal Dorati, an international orchestra and chorus perform Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" in four cities in five days.

In response to a growing crisis created by nuclear weapon manufacture, IPPNW creates the International Commission to Investigate the Health and Environmental Effects of Nuclear Weapons Production.

In December, an earthquake devastates parts of Soviet Armenia. IPPNW secures millions of dollars worth of medical supplies and arranges for medical teams to enter the quake-stricken region.

SatelLife is incorporated under the auspices of IPPNW to develop programs using space technology for medical purposes with an emphasis on the developing world.

A new IPPNW publication, Medicine and Nuclear War: A Model Curriculum, helps medical school faculty include information on medicine and nuclear war in their programs.

At IPPNW's Ninth World Congress in October, 3,000 physicians meet in the two cities victimized by the atomic bombs: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Citizens of the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan protest nuclear weapons testing at the Soviet nuclear testing site near Semipalatinsk in August, 1989.

Together with the Soviet grass-roots movement "Nevada- Semipalatinsk- Moruroa," IPPNW convenes the International Citizens Congress for a Nuclear Test Ban in Alma-Ata and Semipalatinsk, USSR. The historic event revitalizes the Comprehensive Test Ban campaign. SatelLife plans next year's launch of a communications satellite that would provide vital information services to medical communities in the developing world.

IPPNW releases Radioactive Heaven and Earth, the first formal report of IPPNW's International Commission to Investigate the Health and Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Testing and Production.

SatelLife creates HealthNet, an inexpensive, reliable communication system providing physicians in both hemispheres a means of solving problems together.

More than 1,300 IPPNW activists from 80 nations assemble in Stockholm, Sweden for IPPNW's Tenth Anniversary World Congress.

During the Gulf War, IPPNW sends investigators, publicizes the health effects of the war, advocates for peace, and delivers tons of medical and nutritional supplies.

The second volume of research by the International Commission, Plutonium: Deadly Gold of the Nuclear Age, is published.

Medical supplies and equipment are delivered to the former Soviet Union in response to shortages following its breakup.

To help persuade the new nuclear states Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to give up the nuclear arsenals they inherited from the Soviet Union, IPPNW works with its Russian affiliate on a broad educational and media campaign.

The World Court Project is launched in conjunction with the International Peace Bureau and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. The goal of the project is to have the International Court of Justice issue an advisory opinion on the illegality of nuclear weapons.

African affiliates aid refugees from the war in Somalia and help document the health effects of the war. 

The Eleventh World Congress takes place in Mexico City, the first in the developing world.

At IPPNW's urging, the World Health Organization votes to petition the World Court for an advisory opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons use.

Demonstrations and letter writing help lead to an extension of the nuclear testing moratorium.

Russian and Japanese affiliates lead the federation's protest against Russian dumping of liquid radioactive waste in violation of a ten year moratorium. This was followed by a world ban on nuclear and industrial waste dumping at sea by the London Convention.

IPPNW works with Medipaz, our Nicaraguan affiliate, to produce a study on The War in Nicaragua: The Effects of Low-Intensity Conflict on an Underdeveloped Country.

The United Nations General Assembly requests an advisory opinion from the World Court on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons; 34 national governments submit legal arguments to the Court. IPPNW joins in presenting 110 million citizens' signatures to the Court in opposition to nuclear weapons.

An unprecedented tour by Russian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (RPPNW) to four principal nuclear weapons sites in the U.S. takes place as part of RPPNW's continuing public education campaign on the nuclear threat.

The Abolition 2000 campaign is launched with the goal of building worldwide support for a signed global agreement by the year 2000 that sets a firm timetable for nuclear abolition.

At a top-level NPT symposium, IPPNW's case for nuclear abolition is received enthusiastically by an audience that included diplomats, disarmament experts, and the public.

A senior IPPNW delegation travels to Paris to meet in person with high-level French officials to protest planned nuclear tests in the South Pacific.

The release of Nuclear Wastelands, the magnum opus of IPPNW's International Commission, is publicly lauded as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference on the devastating health and environmental effects of fifty years of nuclear weapons production.

Chinese physicians join IPPNW, giving it an affiliate in every nuclear weapons state. Abolition 2000 -- Handbook for a World Without Nuclear Weapons is released to help physician-activists develop their dialogue and non-confrontational communication skills for use with governments and decision-makers.

IPPNW releases the first report of a new information series: Global Health Watch. Crude Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and the Terrorist Threat evaluates the risks and potential consequences of nuclear terrorism in a world where fissile materials could fall into the hands of terrorists.

The 12th World Congress is held at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts (USA). The theme of the Congress is Peace Through Health: Agenda for the New Millennium.

Dr. R. S. McCoy, IPPNW Co-President, sits on the prestigious Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

IPPNW helps push through a final agreement on the long-awaited Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

IPPNW produces the comprehensive report Landmines: A Global Health Crisis, the second in the Global Health Watch series.

IPPNW joins commission of Nobel Peace Laureates to promote an International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers.

As part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, IPPNW celebrates the award of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize to Jody Williams and the ICBL.

Medicine & Global Survival and Medicine, Conflict and Survival are designated IPPNW journals.

Efforts to secure an international agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2000 were advanced in a Geneva meeting among NGOs, including IPPNW, and dozens of state representatives to the UN Conference on Disarmament.

With IPPNW support, the Middle Powers Initiative is launched -- an effort by several NGOs to mobilize the influence of key non-nuclear states to press the nuclear powers on disarmament issues.

IPPNW organizes its first ever North Asia regional meeting to address critical nuclear security issues among Japan, China, and the Koreas.

IPPNW organizes a major conference on landmines in Moscow with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. This is the first such forum held in Russia, a major manufacturer of landmines.

IPPNW works with IALANA, the International Peace Bureau, and other peace, disarmament, and human rights groups to help organize the Hague Appeal for Peace; IPPNW members conduct workshops and IPPNW medical students organize a 10-day training session on peace and disarmament issues.

IPPNW publishes Is Everything Secure? Myths and Realities of Nuclear Disarmament.

The Australian affiliate holds the 13th World Congress in Melbourne.

Security and Survival: The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention is produced by IPPNW in cooperation with the Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation. The book, released at the UN during the Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom, is a valuable organizing tool in the campaign for nuclear abolition.

IPPNW leaders meet with India's Prime Minister to call for nuclear abolition. Bombing Bombay: The Effects of Nuclear Weapons and a Case Study of of a Hypothetical Explosion is released in South Asia to help activists campaign for nuclear abolition.

IPPNW asserts a strong presence at the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Conference, organizing key NGO disarmament panels and helping to develop "13 Steps" toward nuclear disarmament. The five nuclear weapon states that are signatories to the NPT commit themselves to an "unequivocal undertaking" to eliminate nuclear weapons as required by Article 6.

Thousands of IPPNW physicians and supporters campaign against US plans to deploy a national missile defense system that threatens to overturn the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and ignite a new nuclear arms race. Affiliates in countries on which the US depends for deployment of the NMD system are especially active participants in the campaign.

More than 400 physicians, health workers, medical students, scientists, political leaders, and IPPNW supporters from nearly 50 countries met in Paris in June to chart IPPNW?s course for the 21st century and celebrate 20 years of activism to prevent nuclear war and promote peace. A new federation campaign around the medical consequences of the proliferation of small arms is introduced to Congress participants as a major element of IPPNW's war prevention mission.

North Asia regional meeting at the 14th World Congress: an historic gathering of affiliates from North and South Korea, China, and Japan.

Delegations comprising physicians, medical students, and staff from nearly a dozen countries meet in November with parliamentarians, defense and disarmament ministers, and embassy representatives in London and Paris as part of the Dialogues With Decisionmakers program. US national missile defenses and British and French NPT obligations are focal points of the meetings.

IPPNW's "Stop Star Wars" campaign against the proposed national missile defense system gains momentum, with a forum on the Pine Gap installation in Australia; a Canadian mass transit and Internet youth-outreach campaign called "Bombs Away"; participation by the French affiliate in a European roundtable discussion on the weaponization of space; placement of a full-page ad protesting NMD in Swedish newpapers, timed to coincide with a visit by George W. Bush; and a range of other activities in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, and the UK.

Following the September 11 attacks in the US, IPPNW placed renewed emphasis on its longstanding concern with nuclear terrorism, the proliferation of fissile materials, and the possibility that commercial nuclear power plants could become terrorist targets.

The Dialogues With Decisionmakers program fielded new delegations to Moscow in May, for a week-long series of meetings at defense and security ministries, the State Duma, a major medical research institute, and other peace and disarmament NGOs.

"Aiming For Prevention," IPPNW's international medical conference on small arms, gun violence, and injury, took place in Helsinki in September and marked the official launch of a global campaign on the medical and public health effects of the small arms pandemic. The conference issued a medical call to action, endorsing the need for "a comprehensive educational campaign to inform our professions, our students, and the public about the multiple causes and the devastating consequences of small arms violence."

IPPNW affiliates in Africa and Russia collected data on the health effects of antipersonnel landmines for the Landmines Monitor; conducted workshops on mine awareness and the treatment of mine-related injuries; and worked for universal accession to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Go back to the regular design...