On October 24, the same day as the 50th Ratification of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as well as the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the U.N., the American Public Health Association included language supportive of the Back from the Brink policy platform in their annual Policy Statements.
Public health professionals know that there is no cure for nuclear war, and that it must be prevented if we hope to ensure our survival. As past near-misses and nuclear accidents have proven, the only foolproof way to prevent nuclear war is to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The APHA policy statements call for all 5 of Back from the Brink’s policy recommendations, as well as a range of other needed reforms. Specifically, their “Towards a Nuclear Weapons Free World” statement calls for (among other things):
1) the United States (U.S.) and the other nuclear weapons states to sign and ratify the 2017 United Nations (UN) Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race;
2) the U.S. Congress and President to work towards the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons including, but not limited to, rejoining the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, renewing and expanding the New START Treaty, pursuing multilateral regional treaties, renouncing first use of nuclear weapons, and ending the sole presidential authority to launch a nuclear attack;
3) the U.S. Congress and President to address legacy and current occupational and environmental health harms posed by the U.S. nuclear weapons complex; and
4) all public health professionals and schools of public health to advocate for a world free of nuclear weapons, including opposition to diverting resources to weapons development and production, teaching material covering health impacts of the nuclear weapons cycle in schools of public health, and conducting further research and publishing materials on nuclear weapons issues.
This huge accomplishment is in large part thanks to the tireless advocacy of our partners at the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington State chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility, who drafted the language and built support within the organization for its adoption. We thank everyone who was involved in this successful undertaking, and look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that the public health threats of nuclear weapons are understood by the public and our elected officials, and that we take the necessary steps to address them.