Pugwash conferences bring spotlight home

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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At a time when the nuclear threat is as great as it has ever been, it's only appropriate for the sprit of the Pugwash Movement to be rekindled in the village where it was born.

A half century after some of the world's greatest minds came to Pugwash to talk about peace and nuclear disarmament, the village will again be in the global spotlight in early July as the Pugwash Conferences come home to celebrate its 50th birthday.

"Pugwash was instrumental in all the treaties dealing with nuclear weapons and was influential in avoiding nuclear war from 1957 until the dissolution of the Russian empire. That's a very significant contribution," Pugwash Peace Exchange president Stephen Leahey said.

The highlight of the four-day conference running from July 5-8 will be a peace dinner on Saturday, July 7, featuring Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald, Pugwash Peace Exchange honorary patron Sen. Romeo Dallaire and Hiroshima mayor Tadatoshi Akiba who founded the Mayors for Peace organization.

The conference will include two days of private workshops featuring the most influential gathering of experts on nuclear war since that first conference in 1957. There will also be a number of public events to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Pugwash Movement including a public lecture on creating the path to a nuclear-free world, a presentation on what Pugwash means to the world and a new call for nuclear disarmament.

"The outcome hopefully will be a major statement akin to one that drew world attention in 1957, saying to the world at large that this is the path that can be taken to gradually eliminate nuclear weapons," Leahey said.

The conference fits in well with the peace exchange's plans to build a multi-million-dollar interpretive centre in Pugwash that will not only generate economic development in the Pugwash area but will also serve as a world-class educational centre for the promotion of peace.

"This augers well for our plans to build a conference that's oriented towards educating people about the horrors of war and the prospects for peace as well as the underpinnings of the human security agenda including the power of democracy, human rights, economic development and the preservation of the environment," Leahey said.

Cumberland North MLA Ernest Fage said the conference will be a chance to restate Pugwash's place as a focal point of the nuclear disarmament movement.

"This summer's conference will be a real opportunity to be the first part of seeing a new vision and reinvigoration that hopefully spread around the world on disarmament, peace, individual rights and respecting the environment we live in," Fage said.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Pugwash Movement, Peace organization

Geographic location: Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Hiroshima

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