Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, former resident of Basel once said: ‘One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.’

Thus, with this introductory post, I am starting to fulfil the promise I made a couple of weeks ago to become a conference blogger, namely to report on the proceedings of the IPPNW Basel congress and my experiences thereof.

I’ve started the long journey from Durham, UK, to Basel, Switzerland and very much looking forward to my first trip to that country and my first IPPNW congress.

Though there will undoubtedly be a number of notable differences between my home and my destination, I also see similarities between both Durham and Basel: both are ancient cities full of historical significance, situated in the North of their respective countries with a picturesque river running through. Both localities are also home to old and prestigious universities; (Basel hosts Switzerland’s oldest university founded in 1459)

So, I am anticipating swapping the scenery of the river Wear for the Rhine and exchanging the shade of Durham Cathedral for the Basel Munster. Most of all, I am excited about meeting fellow doctors and medical students from all parts of the world, who have in common a desire to see a world free of nuclear weapons and other threats to global peace, health and security.

Basel, situated where the French, German and Swiss borders meet, seems to have a history of being host to a number of noteworthy peace promoting conventions throughout the centuries. The ‘Treaty of Basel’, signed on 1499 ended the conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the House of Habsburg. The ‘Peace of Basel’ signed in 1795 heralded the end of the end of the war between the revolutionary French Republic and the Prussian-Spanish alliance. Other notable meetings to have taken place in Basel include a congress of the Second International (a worldwide coalition of Socialist and Labour parties)- at which the ‘Basel Manifesto’ was adopted. The manifesto called upon the working peoples of the world to conduct a campaign against war and those who foment it.

Let’s hope the 19th IPPNW World Congress proves to be momentous enough to earn its place in the chronicles of Basel and even world history.

Tomasz Pierscionek (UK)

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