Loads to discuss re today’s events but as credit runs out on the internet in about three minutes and I am utterly exhausted, I’m afraid any serious blogging will have to be postponed till tomorrow. Suffice to say, heard some really inspiring speakers today in the conference plenary sessions and met lots of interesting individuals from all corners of the world. A delicious meal in the upstairs banquet hall of the Safranhurst restaurant helped the brain to chill. Finished the night in what could best be described as open air club- free to get in, no doors, walls etc. The only constraint being the friendly people dancing in close proximity. Wish we had more of this in the UK- free open air clubbing. Anyway, suffice to say, the night could best be summed up by the following: Bongo drums, African dancing, techno music + Portuguese lessons. Might explain later. Will blog about the more serious side of things tomorrow.

Goodnight x

Made it to the wonderful city of Basel earlier this evening and had a fun first few hours getting to know the fellow delegates and my roommates- 4 of us are sharing a room (2 of us from UK and 2 from Nigeria).

Soon after arrival had to dash to get the intensive packed tram which whisked us off to dinner on a boat by the Rhine. The tram, jam-packed with fellow doctors and medical students from all 4 corners of the world, appeared to receive a number of puzzled looks from Basel residents. They were probably wondering why we had chosen to suffer such cramped conditions and yet appear to be enjoying the ride.

Dinner provided a well earned opportunity to mix drinks and to mingle with my fellow international medics. As this is my first IPPNW congress, lots of new and unfamiliar faces. But the conversations soon started flowing and were as varied as the individuals I was lucky enough to meet: A chat about Obama’s healthcare bill with US delegates and a discussion of the Israel- Palestine conflict with the Israeli bunch were just a couple of my conversations.

New friends were made.
Very much looking forward to tomorrow’s main congress and its high profile speakers. I am particularly keen to hear what the Swiss foreign minister has to say on the issue of nuclear disarmament.

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)