The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats. It was founded in 1957 by Joseph Rotblat and Bertrand Russell in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, following the release of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955.
Pugwash and Rotblat jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 for efforts on nuclear disarmament. International Student/Young Pugwash groups have existed since 1979.
Origin of the Pugwash Conferences
The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, released July 9
, called for a conference for scientists to assess the dangers of weapons of mass destruction
(then only considered to be nuclear weapons
). Cyrus Eaton
, a Canadian industrialist who had known Russell since 1938, offered on July 13
to finance the conference in his hometown of Pugwash, Nova Scotia
. This was not taken up at the time because a meeting was planned for India
, at the invitation of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
. With the outbreak of the Suez Crisis
the Indian conference was postponed. Aristotle Onassis
offered to finance a meeting in Monaco
instead, but this was rejected. Eaton's former invitation was taken up.
The first conference was held in July 1957 in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, hence the organization's name. It was organized by Joseph Rotblat, who served as secretary-general of the organization from its inception until 1973. The Russell-Einstein Manifesto became the Pugwash Conferences' founding charter.
Twenty-two scientists attended the first conference:
- seven from the USA (David F. Cavers, Paul Doty, Hermann J. Muller, Eugene Rabinowitch, Walter Selove, Leó Szilárd, Victor F. Weisskopf)
- three from the Soviet Union (Alexander M. Kuzin, Dmitri V. Skobeltzyn, Alexander V. Topchiev)
- three from Japan (Iwao Ogawa, Shinichiro Tomonaga, Hideki Yukawa)
- two from the UK (Cecil F. Powell, Joseph Rotblat)
- two from Canada (George Brock Chisholm, John S. Foster)
- one each from Australia (Mark L. E. Oliphant), Austria (Hans Thirring), China (Chou Pei-Yuan), France (Antoine M. B. Lacassagne) and Poland (Marian Danysz).
Cyrus Eaton, Eric Burhop, whom Eaton had requested be invited, and Vladimir Pavlichenko also were present. Many others were unable to attend, including co-founder Bertrand Russell, for health reasons.
Officers include the president, secretary-general and executive director. Formal governance is provided by the twenty-eight-person Pugwash Council, which serves for five years. There is also a six-member executive committee that assists the secretary-general. Jayantha Dhanapala
is the current president.
The four Pugwash offices, in Rome, London, Geneva, and Washington D.C., provide support for Pugwash activities and serve as liaisons to the United Nations and other international organizations.
There are more than forty national Pugwash groups, organized as independent entities and often supported or administered by national academies of science.
The International Student/Young Pugwash groups works with, but are independent from, the international Pugwash group.
Contributions to international security
Pugwash's first fifteen years coincided with the Berlin Crisis
, the Cuban Missile Crisis
, the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia
, and the Vietnam War
. Pugwash played a useful role in opening communication channels during a time of otherwise-strained official and unofficial relations. It provided background work to the Partial Test Ban Treaty
(1963), the Non-Proliferation Treaty
(1968), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
(1972), the Biological Weapons Convention
(1972), and the Chemical Weapons Convention
(1993). Mikhail Gorbachev
admitted the influence of the organisation on him when he was leader of the Soviet Union
As international relations thawed and, as more unofficial communication channels appeared, Pugwash's visibility decreased, but still remained important in arms-control issues of the day: European nuclear forces, chemical and biological weaponry, space weapons, conventional force reductions and restructuring, and crisis control in the Third World. Pugwash's focus also has expanded to include issues of development and the environment.
Nobel Peace Prize
In 1995, fifty years after the bombing of Nagasaki
, and forth years after the signing of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, the Pugwash Conferences and Joseph Rotblat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
- "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms".
The Norwegian Nobel committee hoped that awarding the prize to Rotblat and Pugwash would
- "encourage world leaders to intensify their efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons".
In his acceptance speech, Rotblat quoted a key phrase from the Manifesto:
- "Remember your humanity".
There are more than 3500 "Pugwashites" world-wide, individuals who have attended a Pugwash meeting and thus, are considered associated with Pugwash. Some of these include: