About Canadian Pugwash Group

We are the national affiliate of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization, which had its birthplace in Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1957 and which was awarded the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize together with its founder Sir Joseph Rotblat. The purpose of the Pugwash Conferences is to provide scholarly insights into the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, including nuclear and conventional disarmament, control of the arms trade, the peaceful settlement of disputes and to contribute to solutions for environmental threats to human security.

Education on global security, in a broad sense, is the mandate of the Canadian Pugwash Group, carried out by sponsoring conferences, roundtables and other events to foster informed discussion and to generate ideas and proposals relevant to the formulation of government policy. For example in recent years Canadian Pugwash has organized a conference on “Canada’s Contribution to Global Security” (July 2017) and one on “Towards a World Without Nuclear Weapons” (July 2015), both of which yielded a set of policy recommendations that were conveyed to the Government of Canada for consideration.

Canadian Pugwash Bylaws

On July 2, 2014, the Canadian Pugwash Group received a Certificate of Continuance under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (NFP Act). The original incorporation of the organization was July 12, 1990. This followed a period of activity that dated as far back as the Pugwash foundation meeting in 1957.

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs:

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 was a call to action in the campaign to prevent war and to realize nuclear disarmament. wwnwGroup08-16-2012It was the inspiration behind the establishment in 1957 by the philanthropist Cyrus Eaton of the Pugwash Conferences and the gathering of scientists from East and West at his summer residence in the small seaside village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia (now the National Historic Site of “Thinkers Lodge”). Pugwash members continue to uphold the principles set out in the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.

Nobel Peace Prize

Canadian Pugwash Group member Setsuko Thurlow accepts the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN. Photo: Jo Straube

For more than sixty years the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs have been working for the control, reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. It was in recognition of these efforts that Pugwash, together with its President of the time, Joseph Rotblat, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In December 2017, Canadian Pugwash was honoured that one of its members, Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, was selected to receive alongside the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) the Nobel Peace Prize for ICAN’s efforts to ensure the negotiation of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


The Canadian Pugwash Group has two categories of members: full members who are elected by the current Board of Directors on the basis of a nomination originating with one or more of the current members. New members have made significant contributions in their professional lives to advancing the goals of the Pugwash movement. A category of Associate Members is aimed at individuals at an earlier stage of their careers or those unable to participate on a regular basis with Canadian Pugwash activities, who nevertheless support the principles of the movement and who wish to engage with like-minded colleagues. Associate Members are appointed by the Chair upon consultation with the Board of Directors. All members have access to a dedicated listserv for the sharing of articles and other information relevant to Canadian Pugwash’s mission. Please feel free to contact the Chair or Vice-Chair for information about becoming associated with Canadian Pugwash.

Please use the menu to explore our website and to find out about current peace and security issues and initiatives involving Canadian Pugwash members.

Russell-Einstein Manifesto: 65 years later

“We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.”

These are the moving words with which Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell and nine other distinguished scientists and intellectuals introduced the famous resolution which became known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto on July 9, 1955.

Exactly 65 years later, their message is as relevant today as it was when it was issued. The scourge of weapons of mass destruction and war still threaten us; but the crises confronting humanity have multiplied exponentially in number, intensity, complexity and impact on human security. Infectious diseases, hunger and poverty, unemployment and inequality, financial instability and economic uncertainty, the retreat from democracy, the reversion to competitive nationalism, and the overarching threat of climate change loom larger than ever. They are magnified by the vacuum in global leadership and a loss of trust and confidence in national and international institutions.

The sense of urgency, appeal to human conscience and universal values that reverberate through their Manifesto powerfully echo the needs of our time. The challenges we confront may be greater, but so too are our collective knowledge and capacity for effective global response. The voice of science, the aspirations of youth, the just demand for human rights, the sanity of human wisdom and the resourcefulness of human creativity compel us to call with renewed resolve for unprecedented steps to replace the failed doctrines and policies that have brought the world to its present state.

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto led directly to the establishment of Pugwash Conferences in 1957 and the founding of the World Academy of Art and Science in 1960. It has also inspired the work of a great many institutions dedicated to a better common future for all.

On the eve of July 9th, we invite all like-minded organizations to reflect on the relevance of the Manifesto to the world today and seize the opportunity to convert the looming global threats confronting humanity into a compelling force for collective action. We call on nations, organizations and individuals everywhere in all fields to forge an inclusive alliance and movement for global peace and human security. Please join us and spread the word.

Russell Einstein Manifesto

Issued in London, 9 July 1955

In the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft.

We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. The world is full of conflicts; and, overshadowing all minor conflicts, the titanic struggle between Communism and anti-Communism.

Almost everybody who is politically conscious has strong feelings about one or more of these issues; but we want you, if you can, to set aside such feelings and consider yourselves only as members of a biological species which has had a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire.

We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it.

We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?

The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. It is understood that the new bombs are more powerful than the old, and that, while one A-bomb could obliterate Hiroshima, one H-bomb could obliterate the largest cities, such as London, New York, and Moscow.

No doubt in an H-bomb war great cities would be obliterated. But this is one of the minor disasters that would have to be faced. If everybody in London, New York, and Moscow were exterminated, the world might, in the course of a few centuries, recover from the blow. But we now know, especially since the Bikini test, that nuclear bombs can gradually spread destruction over a very much wider area than had been supposed.

It is stated on very good authority that a bomb can now be manufactured which will be 2,500 times as powerful as that which destroyed Hiroshima. Such a bomb, if exploded near the ground or under water, sends radio-active particles into the upper air. They sink gradually and reach the surface of the earth in the form of a deadly dust or rain. It was this dust which infected the Japanese fishermen and their catch of fish.

No one knows how widely such lethal radio- active particles might be diffused, but the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.

Many warnings have been uttered by eminent men of science and by authorities in military strategy. None of them will say that the worst results are certain. What they do say is that these results are possible, and no one can be sure that they will not be realized. We have not yet found that the views of experts on this question depend in any degree upon their politics or prejudices. They depend only, so far as our researches have revealed, upon the extent of the particular expert’s knowledge. We have found that the men who know most are the most gloomy.

Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.

The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty. But what perhaps impedes understanding of the situation more than anything else is that the term “mankind” feels vague and abstract. People scarcely realize in imagination that the danger is to themselves and their children and their grandchildren, and not only to a dimly apprehended humanity. They can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly. And so they hope that perhaps war may be allowed to continue provided modern weapons are prohibited.

This hope is illusory. Whatever agreements not to use H-bombs had been reached in time of peace, they would no longer be considered binding in time of war, and both sides would set to work to manufacture H-bombs as soon as war broke out, for, if one side manufactured the bombs and the other did not, the side that manufactured them would inevitably be victorious.

Although an agreement to renounce nuclear weapons as part of a general reduction of armaments would not afford an ultimate solution, it would serve certain important purposes. First: any agreement between East and West is to the good in so far as it tends to diminish tension. Second: the abolition of thermo-nuclear weapons, if each side believed that the other had carried it out sincerely, would lessen the fear of a sudden attack in the style of Pearl Harbour, which at present keeps both sides in a state of nervous apprehension. We should, therefore, welcome such an agreement though only as a first step.

Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and in the West.

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.


We invite this Congress, and through it the scientists of the world and the general public, to subscribe to the following resolution:

“In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the Governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.”

Max Born | Perry W. Bridgman | Albert Einstein | Leopold Infeld | Frederic Joliot-Curie | Herman J. Muller | Linus Pauling | Cecil F. Powell | Joseph Rotblat | Bertrand Russell | Hideki Yukawa

Ballistic Missile Defence and Outer Space Security: A Strategic Interdependence

UN Institute for Disarmament Research | 29 June 2020 | 26 Pages

Space Dossier File 6: Ballistic Missile Defence and Outer Space Security: A Strategic Interdependence

Today, international security is facing threats from a ‘devil’s triangle’ of arms capabilities, presented by offensive nuclear missiles, ballistic missile defence and outer space weaponization. These three are, and have been, inter-connected due to their technological and strategic natures. They are also the source of some of the most challenging diplomatic debates, particularly in today’s tense geopolitical climate. Current events indicate that States are moving away from a position of restraint and towards accelerated development. This paper traces the roots of the relationship between missiles, missile defence and anti-satellite weapons to show where current trends might lead, and to offer some useful ideas on how to use diplomacy to find a new path for arms control.

Read more (PDF download)

Podcast: Canada and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

In April, CPG Chair Paul Meyer was interviewed by Colin Robertson of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute on the theme of “Canada and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty”. The podcast can be accessed below. The CGAI Podcast Network · The Global Exchange: Canada and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

The need for a new expert panel on technology and UN peace operations

Downloadable PDF version of “The need for a new expert panel on technology and UN peace operations”

Exploring the impact of digital technology on conflict dynamics and peace operations: the story so far

Having served in 2014 on the Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping, I saw how useful such a body could be. It reviewed UN progress, explored new areas, and served as a channel for many new proposals. The 2015 TIP Report was enthusiastically accepted by those UN departments most involved with peacekeeping. An extensive 18-month TIP Implementation Strategy was very quickly developed. Good progress was made as the UN tried out many new technologies in the field, including aerostats (tethered balloons with video cameras), novel UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, for observation), mobile command centres, and new forms of data collection and analysis, as well as more secure means of communication. However, momentum for the TIP Implementation Strategy waned after 18 months. Some progress continued in the field but most of the 120 recommendations from the TIP report were left unimplemented, unexplored and unprioritized.

A stock-taking of progress since the TIP Report would be valuable, especially for the UN’s experiences with new technologies, e.g., UAVs, which have gone from three in 2014 to over 100 at present (mostly mini-UAVs). Many lessons can be learned from the past half-decade. New technologies have been explored, some abandoned, but all of the experiences provide significant opportunities for analysis and institutional learning.

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UN peacekeeping works but Canada’s contribution falls to all-time low

Hill Times, 25 May 2020

UN peacekeeping is a good deal, by any relevant measure, especially at a time of crisis like the present. Now is not the time to step back. Missions are needed more than ever.

Canada’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations has fallen to only 35 personnel among the UN’s 82,000 uniformed peacekeepers currently deployed. This is the lowest point for Canada since the first peacekeeping force was created at the urging of (then) foreign minister Lester Pearson in 1956 to resolve the Suez Crisis.

This minimal contribution does not reflect the current government’s promises, nor what Canadians want, which is a strong United Nations in a rules-based international order.

Admittedly, the COVID-19 crisis provides a good reason to pause some military movements, and the UN has cautiously postponed its rotation of troops until July. Furthermore, the UN is adjusting and reprioritizing its field activities, while still meeting mission-critical requirements. And many other nations continue to provide substantive contributions. Both Ireland and Norway, our friendly competitors for a Security Council seat, have more personnel deployed than Canada (Ireland: 474; Norway: 65, at the end of April). The European Union is committed to increasing the contributions of its members in the coming months.

The world’s success in combating the virus will depend in part on UN peacekeeping because of the urgent need to provide health services in conflict-prone areas. Africa could become the future epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic and a reservoir for its continued spread if an effort is not made now. Peacekeeping requires that capable UN member nations commit dependably, especially to difficult missions.

Despite the comments of skeptics, UN peacekeeping has made a substantial difference in conflict areas and has helped end many wars, as described in our May 2020 essay, Peacekeeping Works: The UN Can Help End Civil Wars.

UN peacekeeping is demonstrably cost-effective and has helped save and improve lives.

Multidimensional peacekeeping operations have the most positive outcomes, dealing with a wide range of national problems, including epidemics like Ebola in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At least two-thirds of all missions since 1956 can be judged as mostly or partially successful. Fewer, if any, were unambiguous failures. But even some of those considered “disasters” have saved many lives. The UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda—led by Canadian general Roméo Dallaire—saved more than 20,000 people during the genocide, despite peacekeeper numbers being reduced to fewer than 300 personnel on the ground. Canada, to its credit, increased its deployment to Rwanda during the genocide.

Canada’s current decline in peacekeeping began under previous governments, despite continuing popular support for UN missions. There have been pressures to commit to alliance (i.e., NATO) priorities, to which Canada has responded far more promptly and generously. But this does not justify the lack of support for UN missions that are known to resolve armed conflicts. Studies show that armed conflicts are reduced by up to two-thirds compared to conflicts without UN involvement, and UN forces deploy at a fraction of the cost of other military missions (e.g., NATO).

Doubling UN peacekeeping budgets alone would result in far less human suffering, fewer infant deaths, better access to hospital care, life-saving potable water, and fewer undernourished people. Imagine the huge financial, economic, and other community benefits that result when conflicted societies end violence early. Now accelerate this with Canada offering significantly more resources and personnel to realize ambitious UN peacekeeping mandates.

UN peacekeeping is a good deal, by any relevant measure, especially at a time of crisis like the present. Now is not the time to step back. Missions are needed more than ever. If anything, Canada should be promoting and contributing to multinational standby brigades and eventually a standing emergency capacity, with UN-hired peacekeepers, thereby proactively pinching off conflicts before they escalate. These are the kind of bold ideas that the UN needs.

At the Mali mission pledging conference this month, Canada should offer forces for the mission, including the Quick Reaction Force this country promised the UN back in 2017, at the peacekeeping ministerial Canada hosted. This may be the last opportunity before the June vote in the General Assembly for a Security Council seat in 2021–22 that our government has been lobbying for. A convincing commitment to UN peacekeeping is the kind of contribution to international peace and security that is expected for the award of one of the ten rotating UNSC seats.

Canada has maintained deployments of hundreds to the NATO missions in Latvia and Ukraine for many years, so why have we so much trouble providing a few hundred soldiers and police to UN missions, even for short periods? It seems a sad reflection on the government. In particular, the performance is at odds with the unfulfilled promises and lofty rhetoric in support of peacekeeping.

We can ask for more. Canada can do better.

Walter Dorn is a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College. He is also a consultant to the United Nations on peacekeeping technology. He serves as president of the World Federalist Movement–Canada. Robin Collins serves on the board or in committees of various civil society organizations, including the World Federalist Movement–Canada, the Canadian Pugwash Group, and The Group of 78.