24 APRIL 2017
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Origins of Pugwash
The first half of Pugwash's four-decade history coincided with some of the most frigid years of the Cold War, marked by the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the Vietnam War. In this period of strained official relations and few unofficial channels, the fora and lines of communication provided by Pugwash played useful background roles in helping lay the groundwork for the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963, the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. Subsequent trends of generally improving East-West relations and the emergence of a much wider array of unofficial channels of communication have somewhat reduced Pugwash's visibility while providing alternate pathways to similar ends, but Pugwash meetings have continued until the present to play an important role in bringing together key analysts and policy advisers for sustained, in-depth discussions of the crucial arms-control issues of the day: European nuclear forces, chemical and biological weaponry, space weapons, conventional force reductions and restructuring, and crisis control in the Third World, among others. Pugwash has, moreover, for many years extended its remit to include problems of development and the environment.
Starting in January 1980, for example, Pugwash's series of Workshops on nuclear forces provided an off-the-record forum where not only military and civilian analysts but also some members of the official negotiating teams compared notes and sought solutions to obstacles in the official negotiations (28 Workshops of this series have been held until now, most of them in Geneva, Switzerland). The Pugwash chemical and biological warfare Workshops -- 27 of them since 1974 -- have similarly engaged technical experts from the official negotiating teams, as well as academic and industry experts; this series led in early 1987 to the first visit of Western chemical weapons specialists to an Eastern European chemical-production complex, and Pugwash contacts were also instrumental in setting up the first access by a U.S. expert to the medical records associated with the disputed 1979 anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk. The Pugwash study group on conventional forces, which originated in the European Security Working Group of the 1982 Pugwash Conference in Warsaw, held 11 meetings, and played a pioneering role in developing concepts for restructuring conventional forces and doctrines into modes less suited for attack, and in gaining credibility for these concepts with Eastern as well as Western military planners and policy makers.
While Pugwash findings reach the policy community most directly through the participation of members of that community in Pugwash and through the personal contacts of other participants with policy makers, additional means of airing Pugwash ideas are also used. A Pugwash Newsletter -- distributed worldwide to policy makers, past Pugwash participants, and libraries -- contains communiques issued by the Pugwash Council, descriptions of and reports on Pugwash meetings, and, with the authors' permission, excerpts from commissioned and proffered papers presented at these meetings. (The reports on the meetings are written by participant/rapporteurs and do not quote or commit other participants.) The Proceedings of Annual Conferences are published regularly and distributed to Pugwashites and governments. And Annals of Pugwash, containing an anthology of papers presented at Pugwash meetings, have also been published and distributed as ordinary books.
Indian Pugwash Society
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