About Pugwash

The mission of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is to bring scientific insight and reason to bear on namely, the catastrophic threat posed to humanity by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  It was in recognition of it mission to “diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms” that Pugwash and its co-founder, Sir Joseph Rotblat, were awarded the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.

Drawing its inspiration from the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955, which urged leaders of the  world to “think in a new way”:  to renounce nuclear weapons, to “remember their humanity” and  to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.”

Participants of the 61st Pugwash Conference, November 2015. “Nagasaki’s Voice: Remember your Humanity”

Through meetings and projects that bring together scientists, experts, and policy makers, Pugwash focuses on those problems that lie at the intersection of science and world affairs.  Pugwash’s main goals remain to seek  the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, to reduce the risk of war especially in areas where weapons of mass destruction are present and may be used,  and to discuss new scientific and technological developments that may bring more instability and heighten the risk of conflicts.

Pugwash objectives also include the reduction and strict control of conventional weaponry with the general goal in mind of  eliminating  war and other forms of armed conflict.  The Pugwash agenda also may include other critical issues at the intersection of science and society, including climate change,  environmental deterioration, and resource scarcity and unequal access, which are deplorable in themselves and which give rise to resentment, hostility, and violence throughout the world.

These objectives of Pugwash are pursued through debate, discussion, and collaborative analysis – in an atmosphere of impartiality  and mutual respect – in periodic general conferences, in specialized workshops and study groups, and through special projects carried out by small teams or individuals on well-defined topics. The resulting ideas and proposals are communicated to decision-makers and the general public through Pugwash website and publications, open letters to heads of government from the Pugwash leadership, press conferences, and – above all – from the personal interactions of individual Pugwash participants with political leaders and opinion makers.

Goals for the Twelfth Quinquennium, 2013 – 2018

AT the beginning of each quinquennium, the Pugwash Council issues a statement relating the enduring mission and objectives of  Pugwash to its evolving agenda in the context of recent international developments.

Pugwash hereby reaffirms its commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  To that end, we  view the following steps as integral to achieving that goal:

  • Decrease the risk that weapons of mass destruction might be used;
  • Address in all possible ways related conflict resolution, particularly in areas where WMD are or may be present;
  • Prevent the further spread of WMD, in particular we will work to make NPT, CWC, BWC  universal treaties;
  • Work to severely reduce the salience of NW for nuclear weapons countries;
  • Promote international  agreements that reduce the dangers associated with WMD, including WMD or NW Free Zones wherever is possible and particularly in the Middle East; CTBT, Fissile Material cutoff treaty, etc ;
  • Prevent technological developments in warfare that may increase instability of the risk of war (for example:  cyberattacks, automatic weapon systems, etc)  and promote agreements to block or constraints these developments.
Participants in the First Pugwash Conference

The Pugwash Conferences take their name from the location of the first meeting, which was held in 1957 in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, birthplace of the American philanthropist Cyrus Eaton, who hosted the meeting. The stimulus for that gathering was a Manifesto issued in 1955 by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein — and signed also by Max Born, Percy Bridgman, Leopold Infeld, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Herman Muller, Linus Pauling, Cecil Powell, Joseph Rotblat, and Hideki Yukawa — which called upon scientists of all political persuasions to assemble to discuss the threat posed to civilization by the advent of thermonuclear weapons. The 1957 meeting was attended by 22 eminent scientists (seven from the United States, three each from the Soviet Union and Japan, two each from the United Kingdom and Canada, and one each from Australia, Austria, China, France, and Poland).

From that beginning evolved both a continuing series of meetings at locations all over the world — with a growing number and diversity of participants — and a rather decentralized organizational structure to coordinate and finance this activity.

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