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Building bridges for peace and a nuclear-weapons-free world

Report of the European Regional Meeting in Wroclaw, September 21 – 23rd, 2018

European IPPNW meeting and European students’ meeting in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo: IPPNW

50 representatives from 14 active IPPNW affiliates met in September in Wroclaw, Poland, and discussed - among other topics - a common strategy for the nuclear weapon ban treaty. Other topics were “Seeking Refuge from War”, "Climate Change and the Energy Shift", “Peace and Reconciliation in Central and Eastern Europe “ and “Arms exports and Aiming for Prevention”. It was the first time that IPPNW Europe organised a joint affiliates’ and student representatives' meeting together, and it turned out to be very inspiring and successful.

In Europe we have 16 active affiliates, of which 13 participated in the Regional meeting in Wroclaw: Doctors and student representatives attended from Austria, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Neither the Netherlands and Denmark were represented in Wroclaw, but continue their work unabated. In Spain, Italy and Portugal there are individuals who take part in some of the activities that are conducted by peace groups in their country. Turkey - who also belongs to our European affiliate list, but seems to belong more to the Middle East group countries - was also invited but could not be represented.

We also invited a representatives from Russian IPPNW with the aim of networking with Russian IPPNW members, who also work more on an individual basis rather than working on a  common project on nuclear ban treaty. Anuar Bidzhiev was able to attend.

A common European affiliate strategy on nuclear weapon ban treaty was central to the meeting. The ideas that emerged in our workshop were:
To use the European Parliament elections in 2019 for several IPPNW affiliates to jointly organize advocacy work at party conferences (especially the Social Democrats and the Greens).

To try to convince the youth organizations of the parties to support us
To organize common visits at embassy (e.g. one country asks other affiliates to visit the embassies of their country with a specific ask) to concentrate on Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Iceland and Spain to convince them to sign and ratify the TPNW. 

Since the Swedish affiliate is the strongest affiliate working on the nuclear ban treaty, thought of requesting Clara Levin (SLMK and ICAN staff person in Sweden) if she would be able to organize common activities around the elections to the European Parliament.

Finland and Norway also work very intensively and continuously with parliamentarians on nuclear weapons ban treaty.

The French affiliate organised a high level meeting in Paris, at the Elysee Palace, with His Excellency Etienne de Gonnevielle, strategic affairs councillor, regarding the US decision to abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Patrice Richard (France) told us about a Peace Forum being organised by President Macron in Paris in November. ICAN France will take part in this conference and AMFPGN will keep us informed.

Switzerland has contacted quite a few parliamentarians and diplomats from their foreign ministry and are trying to convince them to sign the ban treaty.
Other topics of our programme in Wroclaw were: How to get medical students and young doctors to get interested in IPPNW peace work?

Medical peace work (an e-learning program that was developed by our Norwegian and German affiliates using the former work of Vic Sidel, US, and Joanna St. Barbara, Canada) has turned out to be very successful in medical student work.
We used the chapter on: Medical Peace Work and traumatized refugees,      Medical Peace Work and small arms, Medical Peace Work and climate change as the basis for keynote speeches at the European regional meeting.

Treatment of refugees in the context of Medical Peace Work was presented by Dr. Carlotta Conrad. We already know that these practical medical skills often work as a key to get young medical students engaged in the field of social responsibility.
 Newly emerging affiliates in the new republics of former Yugoslavia were mostly built on this idea of Medical Peace Work and also on the idea of peace and reconciliation – a topic that has been worked on for a long time by our Polish affiliate, Prof. Bohdan Wasilewski.

As for climate change and the energy shift: Laurie Laybourn-Langton (Alliance on Climate Change, UK) and Dr. Klaus Renolder (IPPNW Austria) gave lectures. A short video presentation of Dr. Renolder’s upcoming film “The Triple Benefit Principle – How can we live in a sustainable way?” was included. The film explores the causes of anthropogenic climate change and highlights CO2 emissions in a global context. It also deals with the carbon emission footprints per person and demonstrates different solution strategies to reduce them. It further shows how, in particular through the means of educational programmes in schools, awareness for sustainability can be raised among the young generation.

Dr. Helmut Lohrer gave a speech on arms exports and aiming for prevention.

Student representatives from different countries gave a short report on their work last year. Finally, a new European student representative was elected: Ella Faiz from France who joins Dominik Stosik, Poland, who remains European student representative for another year.  

Since Germany has quite a large number of student groups at their medical faculties the German students promised to carry on supporting smaller groups, especially in Poland and France.

The German affiliate is organising an annual international Global Health Summer School in Berlin (in English language). Any European student affiliate can apply.

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