APHA Takes a Strong Stance Against Nuclear Weapons

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.  

We at PSR-LA know that when it comes to nuclear war, we must prevent what we cannot cure.  We are grateful that the APHA recognizes the many public health threats that nuclear weapons create, and is committed to educating other health professionals and the public about the solutions that are available.  As past near-misses and nuclear accidents have proven, the only foolproof way to prevent nuclear war and protect public health 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.

We are so grateful for our colleagues 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 alongside 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.

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