SPIN was launched in 1985, and now includes some 40 organizations. Its principal objective is the exchange of literature among these organizations, but over time several resource organizations have also begun to supply their literature to members of SPIN. A recent survey shows that a typical organization in Czechoslovakia, the Centre of Peace and Disarmament Research, receiving literature from organizations in Austria, Brazil, Canada, FRG., G.D.R, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, U.K., USA., U.S.S.R. and Yugoslavia. The Federation of American Scientists, sending its F.A.S. Report regularly to 22 members of SPIN, is an example of the potential interaction with a resource organization.
Organizations of scientists have always been an important part of the peace movement The role of scientists was spelled out at a Pugwash Workshop in 1982: to study the technological aspects of the arms race in order to offer expert advice to decision makers; to promote peace education; to monitor destabilizing developments in the arms race and warn the public about them; etc. The latter injunction took on added poignancy after the launching of the U.S. Strategic Defence Initiative in 1983 and its European counterpart EUREKA. The Soviets meanwhile are quietly engaged in researching high power lasers in preparation of their version of Star Wars. The research for SDI in the U.S.A. alone has cost some $30 billion over five years and is engaging a significant fraction of the scientific establishment in a vain technological search for “mutual assured survival”.
The resistance to SDI, and to other dangerous developments in the arms race which are global in nature, requires the cooperation of scientists in different countries. The Pugwash Movement is international in scope, but it involves only a very small fraction of the world’s scientists. The World Federation of Scientific Workers is by far the largest organization of scientists and engineers who are concerned with the social implications of science and technology. The WFSW strives to maintain peace in the world and to oppose the misuse of science for war. Unfortunately, because of the distribution of its membership and the tenor of its pronouncements, the WFSW is seen by many scientists to be politically biased, and few of them seem willing to join WFSW so as to help restore its balance.
SPIN goes some way towards satisfying the need for a powerful international association of scientists’ organizations which have objectives similar to Science for Peace. At present it is coordinated by Prof. Eric Fawcett and the modest budget is supported by Science for Peace which is ready, however, to surrender this responsibility to an appropriate organization having a stronger base for such networking.
A likely candidate is AFB–INFO, the Information Unit Peace Research Bonn, a Branch Office of the Peace Research Institute Frankfort. This was set up in 1984 with funding from the government of the FRG in compliance with the Science Council recommendations of May 1983 to perform “information, consultation and mediation functions in the field of peace and conflict research on a national and international level.” The unit has a Director and three Assistants establishing links with German, foreign and international peace research organizations.