Global health leaders rally behind the Ban Treaty May 7, 2018

by John Loretz

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Medical Association have issued important and very timely calls for states to join and implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

On April 23, ICRC president Peter Maurer, reiterating the ICRC’s long-standing appeal “to all States, global leaders and citizens to act on the increasing risk of the use of nuclear weapons,” said that “States should take the necessary steps to adhere to the 1972 NPT, the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and other nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation treaties to which they are not yet party and fully implement their provisions.”

The catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use cannot be limited in time and space, and…more victims will die in the months and years following their use than at the moment of the blast through radiation poisoning, cancers and other diseases….Even the use of just a hundred nuclear weapons, which represents a fraction of existing arsenals, against urban targets could lead to a cooling of global temperatures, shortening of growing seasons, food shortages in large parts of the world and the deaths of over a billion people.”

On April 30, the WMA Council, meeting in Riga, adopted a new resolution expressing deep concern at “plans to retain indefinitely and modernize nuclear arsenals; the absence of progress in nuclear disarmament by nuclear-armed states; and the growing threat of nuclear war.”

The WMA welcomes the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and joins with others in the international community, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and a large majority of UN member states. Consistent with our mission as physicians, the WMA calls on all states to promptly sign, ratify or accede to, and faithfully implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;

Emphasizing the devastating long-term health consequences, the WMA and its Constituent Members urge governments to work immediately to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.”

Cross-posted from IPPNW’s Peace and Health Blog.

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