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Pugwash Conference

The Canadian Pugwash Group* (CPG), a 69-member organization that supports the international Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs*, held its Annual General Meeting at Thinkers’ Lodge in Pugwash, Nova Scotia this July, 18-19. Thinkers’ Lodge was the property of the late Cyrus Eaton, who sponsored and hosted the first of the Pugwash Conferences in 1957. The Lodge is now managed by the trustees of the Pugwash Park Commission, a foundation of Cyrus Eaton’s.

The 53rd Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs will take place 16-22 July 2003 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the theme Advancing Human Security: The Role of Technology, Ethics and Politics. Former Pugwash Conferences have taken place all over the world, the last to be held in Canada having been in 1981. In 1995, the Pugwash Conferences and its President, Joseph Rotblat, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts toward the elimination of nuclear arms. However, Pugwash was also prominent in generally overcoming the resistance to on-site inspections that are required as part of the verification process for the Treaty banning chemical weapons. At one time such inspections were regarded as objectionably intrusive — such objections by Iraq having been only too obvious until very recently.

In addition to preparing for Halifax, the CPG spent one of its days at Thinkers’ Lodge listening to invited speakers and discussing the issues they raised. Prominent among invitees was Jill Sinclair, now Director-General of the Division at DFAIT on Security. Jill was also prominent more recently at the Ottawa hearings on Iraq that were recently televised on CPAC. The July meeting in Pugwash strengthened the useful link between science and government. Such reinforcement is daily more necessary having regard to the hawkish mood becoming so prevalent in political circles. There is a sense in which every reasonable government official is under siege, on the one hand from a vocal, hawkish segment in parliament, and on the other from the kind of messages that are so frequently coming in from our neighbour to the south. The steady, level -headed course that desires to pursue the rule of law, and retain support for the United Nations, is constantly under attack, and needs increasing support from thoughtful citizens.

*Membership of Pugwash is invitational, which applies also for the CPG. However, there is intentionally a large overlap between Science for Peace and CPG memberships.

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