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Tuesday, 5. March 2024

IPPNW XXIII WORLD CONGRESS 2023

Impressions from before and behind the scenes in Mombasa

"A journey from darkness to light," the IPPNW bike tour from April 20- 25, more than 500 kilometers from Nairobi to Mombasa, kicked off the 23rd IPPNW World Congress in Kenya.

Fifteen medical students and young doctors from nine different countries, a few also carrying a rainbow flag on their backs, became advocates for the congress theme “Disarmament, Climate Crisis and Health” in an interactive and intercultural way.

They toured through the African countryside stopping for successful meetings and conversations with village leaders, with a spiritual leader of a Sikh temple, with fellow doctors from local health clinics and centers.

All the bike tour participants made it to the finish line and were welcomed by a traditional dance group, as well as the congress participants, organized by Kamiti Muchiri, member of the congress organizing committee. The music was so uplifting that everyone spontaneously started dancing as well. Delicious welcome fruit juice kept everyone dancing to the fullest. ►more on bike tour here

On April 26, the IPPNW World Student Congress took place.

Also, the outgoing International Council and meeting of the International Board of Directory discussed the policies of the past year, as well as efforts to establish an IPPNW desk in Geneva. Also discussed were the resignation of board members, voting procedures for virtual participants, and the list of candidates for the new IPPNW board. Five resolutions and the Mombasa Congress Declaration were presented.

In the course of the April 25th and 26th, participants arrived at the Congress which was the first World Congress since Covid.  At the welcome reception at the end of the day you could see that everyone had missed each other. People were happy to meet both old acquaintances again and new faces in person after the postponement of the Congress due to the Covid pandemic. This made for many new contacts and intense conversation. Also, the secluded location of the hotel - right by the sea - created a kind of " retreat" feeling. You spent time and did everything together. Also, swimming in the lagoon of the Indian Ocean, with the swaying sea grass (great for CO 2 sequestration) on the seabed, early in the morning before breakfast, created spontaneous group conversations in the warm sea water.  Climate and disarmament met here literally and figuratively.     

The congress officially began on April 27th.  A special guest was Sheikh Mahmoud Abdillahi of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, Mombasa County, who welcomed the guests on behalf of the government.  The congress was officially opened by Dr. Sally Ndungu, IPPNW co-president and congress president. She is an example of the resilience of the future generation of African women. Few people knew that she had been seriously ill for months after the birth of her child in late 2022.

Together with her team young professionals, all thirty-something, and added confidence provided by the IPPNW Central Office, the organizing committee demonstrated its tremendous resilience and professionalism, which became more and more evident during the course of the congress. For example, the choice of hotel: Several hotels were tested beforehand by trying them out themselves, testing for malaria protection, such as mosquito nets around the beds, good service, customer friendliness, and they finally chose "Travelers Beach."

There were also three young technicians on the team who ensured that the congress could be attended virtually all of the time, not to be taken for granted in a country where electricity is not always constantly available. The organizing team wanted the gala dinner on Friday, April 28, to be a real African feast. This succeeded very well. A traditional music group ensured that until late in the evening everyone was dancing to African rhythms with each other in full swing. 

All the logistics were spot on, successful and - where necessary - unexpected situations were handled well the African way. Hakuna matata!

There were one hundred eighty-five participants of which one hundred participants - more than 50% - were not from Europe or North America.  Those participants were almost two generations younger in terms of average age. Apart from Kenya they came from many other countries of the Global South, in Africa: Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, as well as further afield: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mongolia, Japan, Australia.  During the plenary sessions as well as in the workshops, their input was very impressive. There is great self-awareness, knowledge and understanding of how they stand and want to stand in the world, a world without colonization in any area, without nuclear weapons, facing the consequences of climate change/crisis which they are already experiencing first hand. A world to which the "rich west" must not close its eyes but must above all engage and connect. By the end of this century, the African continent will have the most inhabitants.

On April 29th, the last day of the congress, alternative Nobel Peace Laureate 2021, Vladimir Slivyak, of Ecodefense from Russia, now living in Germany, gave an impressive overview of the nuclear expansion, influence and involvement worldwide of the Russian State-owned company Rosatom, especially through uranium mining in Africa and planned nuclear power plants in Africa as well as their involvement in the military weapons industry.  

The substantive part of the congress concluded with the ► Mombasa Congress Declaration, followed by a large group photo on the hotel steps.

On Sunday, April 30, there was still work to do: the International IPPNW council meeting, followed by the nomination and installation of the new board members (Incoming Board Meeting). Through a digital voting process it was announced who had been elected.  Angelika Claussen and I were officially reappointed Regional Vice Presidents for Europe. 

The five resolutions submitted were discussed and adopted as well as an Appeal submitted just in time by Helmut Lohrer, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and for peace negotiations to begin ► Mombasa Appeal for peace and prevention of nuclear war. He, Angelika, myself and others felt that this appeal had been missing from the Mombasa declaration.

One resolution of interest is the Global call for Climate Justice and Disarmament, in which IPPNW calls for appropriate measures to reduce military spending and CO 2 emissions by the arms industry, and the entire military apparatus worldwide, through disarmament. 

At 4 pm, a closing group photo was taken, farewells were said and many went to prepare for a shorter or longer safari tour in the Masai Mara game park.

Marianne Begemann, Vice-President for Europe


Resolutions:

Depleted Uranium

Spread of military nuclear technology to Australia

Links between Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power

On the necessity for affiliates, trustees and individual members of IPPNW to
always be clear about who we represent

Survey of all national IPPNW affiliates 

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