Evolution of the physicians' peace movement : A historical perspective by Ian Maddocks, MD, FRACP, FAFPHM, DTM&H

Historically, physicians have chosen to consider medical ethics rather than patient rights, as well as preferring responsibility for the individuals seeking their help rather than for the health of populations. Protests against planning for war, and discussions about sustainment of global well-being, were received within the medical profession with both encouragement and hostility. Against the mounting threat of nuclear war, International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNWi) was created, bringing up to 70 national affiliates together into a global federation which spoke with a single voice to oppose the grim reality of nuclear war. IPPNWi sought to concentrate its concerns on collective issues rather than individual rights, and on changing ways of thinking rather than on saving individual lives. To this end it has enlarged its agenda to the establishment of more equitable distribution of resources, protection of the global environment, and non-military ways of building regional and global security. IPPNWi seeks to promote rights through discussion, education, and non -partisan collective advocacy and consensus-building.
This paper traces the evolution of medical groups that formed to promote peace and prevent war.