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The mission of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is to bring scientific insight and reason to bear on threats to human security arising from science and technology in general, and above all from the catastrophic threat posed to humanity by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. It was in recognition of this mission that Pugwash and its co-founder, Sir Joseph Rotblat, were awarded the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.
Through meetings and projects that bring together scientists, scholars and individuals experienced in government, diplomacy and the military, Pugwash focuses on those problems that lie at the intersection of science and world affairs. In addition to seeking the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, Pugwash objectives also include the reduction and strict control of conventional weaponry and the elimination of war and other forms of armed conflict. The Pugwash agenda also extends to ways of alleviating the conditions of economic deprivation, 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 candor and mutual respect, at annual 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 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.
Drawing its inspiration from the
of 1955, which called upon leaders of the world to renounce nuclear weapons and "remember their humanity," Pugwash above all is an expression of the social and moral duty of scientists to promote the beneficial applications of their work and prevent their misuse, to anticipate and evaluate the possible unintended consequences of scientific and technological developments, and to promote debate and reflection on the ethical obligations of scientists in taking responsibility for their work.
Forty-five years after its first meeting in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, the pace of scientific and technological developments in the early 21st century, and the security challenges facing the international community, combine to make the Pugwash mission and objectives as relevant as ever.
[14 August 2002]
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