Berlin meeting on the Responsibility of Science for Peace

“Thinking with Einstein: The Responsibility of Science for Peace in the 21st Century”

Berlin, Germany 14-16 October 2005

Report by Goetz Neuneck


From 14-16 October 2005 the International Conference “Thinking with Einstein: The Responsibility of Science for Peace in the 21st Century” brought together several hundred scientists and participants at the “Urania in Berlin”. Albert Einstein, who lived and worked in Berlin from 1918 to 1921, was a scientist who was also passionately engaged in the political debates of his time and he was always aware of the social responsibility that should accompany his profession. For these reasons, it was particularly appropriate to organize such an event in Berlin during the International Year of Physics in Berlin.

The three day meeting was part of the International Einstein Year 2005. The Conference was sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and was opened by then Minister Edelgard Bulmahn, who had participated as an MdB at the Pugwash Annual Conferences in 1991 and 1992. All speakers at the opening event emphasized the important role Pugwash has played in many conflict eras. Especially, all of them deeply regretted very much the absence of Sir Joseph Rotblat, who had previously agreed to come to this meeting. In his absence, a larger than life-size photo of Sir Joseph Rotblat reminded all participants to strive for a nuclear weapon-free world.

Marie Muller, chair of the Pugwash Council spoke in her plenary lecture about the work of Pugwash, especially on human security problems in Africa. On Saturday, internationally renowned scientists discussed, in a series of forums, the issues of scientific responsibility and whistle blowing, peace through sustainability, novel social challenges posed by “key technologies”, ambivalence over various military uses of science and technology, arms control as a response to new military strategies and modern weapons technologies, privatized wars and state interventionism, and global governance. Several Pugwashites participated in these discussion groups.

The main objective of the plenary discussion “For a future Without Weapons of Mass Destruction” was to foster political dialogue. Pugwash Secretary General, Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, participated together with representatives from IPPNW, the European Government, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German research community. The German Pugwash Group and its support organization, the Federation of German Scientists, was one of the five organizers providing much organizational and conceptual support for the conference.