In 1957 leading scientists from all over the world came together informally at a meeting in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. The twenty-two men talked personally, putting aside ideological and political differences of every kind. The meeting was unofficial; they represented no one but themselves. Their aim was to pool their special knowledge and experience in searching for means to avert nuclear disaster.
One of the many results of that historic first discussion was the emergence of a permanent body, the Continuing Committee of the Pugwash Conference, which yearly arranges private, unofficial meetings where scientists may freely and frankly debate the problems of peace and world security.
This book documents twenty-one Pugwash conferences held during the last fifteen years. It is a revised version of the author's first history (published in 1967) which picks up some portions of the original text, but which mainly presents new material. Most of the documents it reproduces – such as the original Russell-Einstein manifesto, and proposals from various conferences and symposia—are essentially unavailable, except to people and libraries that have complete sets of the back issues of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The constructive effect of Pugwash in worldwide. It has led to the few successes achieved so far in disarmament—the partial test ban treaty and the nonproliferation treaty. The Pugwash conferences are, however, concerned not only with the control of nuclear weapons but also with broader issues such as world health, malnutrition, agriculture, and the promotion of greater international cooperation in scientific research. They have influenced the thinking of governments and contributed significantly to the reduction of international tension.