"Development" and Disarmament: The Twin Track of Pugwash in the Early 1970s

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Abstract Summary
Arising from the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, the Pugwash Conferences brought elite scientists together across ideological divides to confront the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Powered by ideas about scientific social responsibility and claiming political neutrality, Pugwash developed an approach to disarmament based on the shared language and methods of science. Meeting annually from 1957, Pugwash facilitated east-west communication and rapidly developed as a forum for Track II diplomacy. The object of official suspicion on both sides of the bloc divide, Pugwash nevertheless established a global reach and carved out a distinctive niche within the Cold War nuclear nexus. Its work towards nuclear disarmament was recognised with the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize. By the 1970s, the changing geopolitical dynamics and increasingly global character of the Cold War presented profound challenges for Pugwash leaders. The onset of détente and arms limitation treaties, while welcomed by Pugwash, simultaneously served to weaken it. This paradox created new challenges: the changing array of global threats to peace meant Pugwash had to adapt to remain relevant to state actors. Important here was a deepening engagement with the North-South divide and the problems of the ‘developing world’, although Pugwash remained vigilant to the nuclear threat, including within this region. This paper explores this transition from two analytical perspectives: focusing on the narratives of senior Pugwash figures it assesses its effects within the organization. Using India as a case study, it examines the political conflicts encountered by Pugwash in its work in the Global South in the 1970s.
Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Organized Session
Abstract Topic
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Chronological Classification :
20th century, late