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IPPNW Students at the 68th General Assembly of IFMSA

by Franca Brüggen

03/07/2019 For the last week I attended the 68th General Assembly of IFMSA (the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations) in Slovenia. Over 1000 Medical students from all around the world gathered here, to exchange ideas, to discuss and to gain inspiration from each-other. After a very long bus-ride from Berlin to Portoroz, I was warmly welcomed by Hiba Ghandour, Liasion officer for human rights and peace(SCORP).

For the next 5 days I joined the sessions of the standing committee for human rights and peace and was able to contribute to two sessions. On day two the sessions‘ team asked me during breakfast if I could step in for somebody and facilitate a session called “SCORP out of the box”. I took the chance and introduced our medical peace work program. Using one of the online-cases, I lead about 30 participants through the scenario of a nuclear-terrorist attack on Berlin. For some of the students it was the first time for them discussing disaster management, others have had more experience in emergency medicine, but even for them the intricate situation in case of a nuclear attack was appalling.

On day 4 I was able to elaborate on nuclear weapons in more detail and to introduce ICAN, the ban treaty and IPPNW‘s key missions. Again about 30-40 students joined the session and with great participation we worked out how we can disprove the arguments in favor of nuclear weapons, by using the humanitarian perspective. At the end they themselves came up with ideas on how a nuclear free world can be achieved and I was able to provide them with useful tools. “We need to pressure our governments to join the ban treaty” – “If you can’t reach out to the governments use ICAN‘s cities appeal!” “We need to take the money away from the nuclear industry” – “use the don’t bank on the bomb report!” “If the nuclear weapon states want to disarm, they would have to join an agreement mutually.” – “Well make them join the ban treaty!“.

It was quite a run through the IPPNW‘s and ICAN‘s story as I only had 1,5 hrs, but many participants approached me during the next days to ask further questions. All in all, It was a great opportunity to inspire students who did not know much about nuclear weapons and medical peace work before. At the last day I noticed ICAN and Medical Peace Work stickers everywhere, on the laptops, on the name-tags and note-books. This was a great step towards our aim to make the nuclear weapon issue more present in the minds of the young generation.

Acknowledging the successful collaboration so far, we want to continue working jointly with IFMSA. We are currently working on a tool-kit for workshops on nuclear abolition, a webinar is set to happen at the beginning of June and for the next GA we want to hand in a policy document to the plenary to call for nuclear disarmament and global support for the ban treaty.

Franca Brüggen is the international students speaker of IPPNW and member of ICAN Germany

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