Anti-nuclear Pugwash movement turns 50

By 
  • June 21, 2007
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Fifty years ago, at the beginning of the Cold War, 22 of the world’s greatest scientists gathered in the village of Pugwash, N.S., to talk about the threat of nuclear weapons.
That historic meeting launched the international Pugwash Conferences movement that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. The Pugwash movement celebrates its 50th anniversary July 5-8 in its Nova Scotian birthplace.

Featured guests include Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, founder of Mayors for Peace; Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay; former UN Undersecretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala; and New Zealand’s disarmament and arms control minister Marian Hobbs. Sen. Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian lieutenant-general (retired) who led the UN mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, is the honorary conference host and a keynote speaker.

Dallaire has made the elimination of nuclear weapons and saving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty a priority since his 2005 appointment to the Senate. In early May, he won all-party support for a unanimous Senate resolution, calling on Canada to take “a global leadership role in the campaign of eradicating the dire threat to humanity posed by nuclear weapons.”

“It is Canada’s moral obligation to assume a proactive leadership role to save the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — our last hope to stave off a frightening cascade of nuclear proliferation from which there can be no rescue,” he said.

Dallaire’s words echo those of a 1955 manifesto by Albert Einstein and philosopher Bertrand Russell. Signed by many of the world’s leading scientists, the manifesto warned a war employing H-bombs could “put an end to the human race.”

“In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them,” it said.

The manifesto inspired American philanthropist Cyrus Eaton, who was born in Pugwash, to invite scientists from the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Austria, China, France and Poland to that first historic conference.

Since the first conference, Pugwash Conferences have been held in locations all over the world. About 150-250 people attend the annual conferences, while 30-50 people attend symposia and workshops sponsored by the Pugwash movement.

More information is available at www.pugwash.org .

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