In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) International Council came together for the first ever online meeting. On 23-24th March 2021, 61 IPPNW affiliates from around the globe met. This meeting was testament to our ability to gather in an inclusive way to conduct critical business without significant travel costs, environmental impacts and time commitment.

Staff of IPPNW Central Office and some of the participants at the 2021 International Council meeting

Speaker Kati Juva (Physicians for Social Responsibility, Finland) and Deputy Speaker Frank Boulton (Medact, UK) facilitated the two-day event smoothly, with a one-minute silence observed to mark the passing of esteemed cardiologist and IPPNW co-founder Bernard Lown. 

At this virtual gathering, we focussed our discussions on a proposal to decentralise the Aiming for Prevention (AfP) program, a proposal to expand the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and campaigning on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war.

Special thanks were given to those who left the board at this stage: Daniel Bassey, Masao Tomonaga, Sue Wareham, Helmut Lohrer, Mathabo Hlahane, Peter Buijs, Frank Boulton, and, last but not least, our two great international IPPNW Student Representatives, Franca Brüggen and Kelvin Kibet. 

Finally, history was made in these elections, with the most diverse cohort elected to date. More than 40% of those elected were women, the network elected its first African woman co-president, its youngest doctor, aged 27, and three medical student representatives were formed as a team.

Medact’s Elisabeth McElderry (IPPNW councillor) and Elizabeth Waterston (IPPNW deputy councillor) represented the UK at the council, while I became the youngest doctor to be elected as a member of the board and Deputy Chair of IPPNW, and Ruth Mitchell (ICAN Australia) was elected as the new chair of the IPPNW.