Sir Joseph Rotblat and Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs are Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats.

It was founded in 1957 by Joseph Rotblat and Bertrand Russell in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, following the release of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955.

Pugwash and Rotblat jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 for efforts on nuclear disarmament. International Student/Young Pugwash groups have existed since 1979.

Rotblat believed that scientists should always be concerned with the ethical consequences of their work. He became one of the most prominent critics of the nuclear arms race, was the youngest signatory of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955, and chaired the press conference that launched it. After the positive coverage of the manifesto, Cyrus Eaton offered to fund the influential Pugwash Conferences. With Bertrand Russell and others he organised the first one of these in 1957 and continued to work within their framework until his death. Despite the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, he advocated establishing links between scientists from the West and East. For this reason the Pugwash conferences were viewed with suspicion. Initially, the British government viewed the conferences as little more than “Communist front gatherings”. However, he persuaded J.D. Cockcroft, a member of Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority, to suggest who might be invited to the 1958 conference. He successfully resisted a subsequent attempt to take over the conferences, causing a Foreign Office official to write that “the difficulty is to get Prof. Rotblat to pay any attention to what we think... He is no doubt jealous of his independence and scientific integrity” and that securing “a new organizer for the British delegation seems to be the first need, but I do not know if there is any hope of this". By the early 1960's the Ministry of Defence thought the Pugwash Conferences were “now a very respectable organization” and the Foreign Office stated that it had "official blessing" and that any breakthrough may well originate at such gatherings. In parallel with the Pugwash Conferences, Rotblat also joined with Einstein, Oppenheimer, Russell and other concerned scientists to found the World Academy of Art and Science which was proposed by them in the mid-1950s and formally constituted in 1960. After the breakthrough of the Partial Test Ban Treaty, Rotblat was made a CBE in 1965