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Principles, Structure and Activities of Pugwash
For the Eleventh Quinquennium (2007-2012)


2002 Pugwash Quinquennial Conference held in La Jolla, California, USA adopted the document entitled Principles, Structure and Activities of Pugwash which has served as a guideline for the organization and activities of the Pugwash Conferences for the past five years.  Some modifications to that document have been introduced below, in light of experience and the changed political, governance, and security conditions of the early 21st century.  While grounded in the founding rationale of Pugwash, the current document is intended only as a guideline.  Traditions of flexibility and unconventionality, built up over several decades,  should continue to be the hallmark of Pugwash.


1. The Pugwash Movement is the expression of the awareness of the social and moral duty of scientists to help to prevent and overcome the actual and potential harmful effects of scientific and technological innovations, and to promote the use of science and technology for the purpose of peace.

Its main objective is the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) and of war as a social institution to settle international disputes. To that extent, peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and mutual understanding is an essential part of Pugwash activities, that is particularly relevant when and where nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are deployed or could be used.

2. The characteristics of Pugwash, governing its activities, are:
More generally, Pugwash goals encompass all issues that lie at the interface between science and world affairs, on which the committed and competent intervention of scientists can play a useful role.

a) participants are invited in their personal capacity and represent no one but themselves;
b) participants are primarily
primarily scientists, academics and public policy specialists;
c) participants cover a
wide spectrum of geographical, social, cultural, religious and political groupings of the international scientific community;
d) there is no formal membership and a minimum of formalized structure;
e) debates in Pugwash are conducted
 in a spirit of scientific inquiry, objectivity, and open-mindedness.;

Pugwash carries out its activities independently or together with kindred organizations, provided that the principles and modus operandi of Pugwash are respected.

3. The various Pugwash
activities (general conferences, workshops, study groups, consultations and special projects) provide a channel of communication between scientists, scholars, and individuals experienced in government, diplomacy, and the military for in-depth discussion and analysis of the problems and opportunities at the intersection of science and world affairs.  To ensure a free and frank exchange of views, conducive to the emergence of original ideas and an effective communication between different or antagonistic governments, countries and groups, Pugwash meetings as a rule are held in private.  This is the main modus operandi of Pugwash.  In addition to influencing governments by the transmission of the results of these discussions and meetings, Pugwash also may seek to make an impact on the scientific community and on public opinion through the holding of special types of meetings and through its publications.


4. Participants. All
participants in Pugwash activities are individually invited on behalf of the Pugwash Council.  Pugwash is not a mass movement, but an organization of scientists, academics, and policy specialists.  Others may also be invited to provide expertise in specific areas. In order to ensure that Pugwash findings are received with respect and make an impact, efforts are made to involve the participation of eminent figures in all Pugwash activities.  To help ensure the continuity of Pugwash, young participants should also be involved, particularly those who show promise of scientific and public policy achievement.

5. Governance.
The Pugwash Council is the governing body of Pugwash and is ultimately responsible for the policies and activities of the movement, which as far as feasible should be within the general framework as laid down by the Quinquennial Conference. The Council may delegate various functions to the Executive Committee, as described below.

Membership of the Council should reflect adequately the diversity of the international scientific, academic and public policy communities, including age and gender.  Once elected, a member of Council acts as an individual and not as a representative of a national group.  The elected membership of the Council should not exceed 30 members.  The Council will elect a Chairperson from among its members. 

The Council is affirmed by the Quinquennial Conference at a plenary session and serves for a period of five years.  A slate of candidates is prepared by the outgoing Council, taking into consideration suggestions received from the National Groups.  The Council’s selections for the slate from the pool of nominees will be based on the individual’s capability and willingness to actively contribute to the work of Pugwash, with attention paid as well to disciplinary, geographical, and cultural considerations.

Given the importance of the rotation of membership on the Council, members will  normally serve no more than two five-year terms.

Prior to being elected, a candidate should agree to serve on the Council, attend its meetings, participate in the subcommittees which the Council may wish to create, and actively further the goals of Pugwash.    If a Council member fails to attend more than two consecutive meetings, Council may appoint a new member in his/her place for the remainder of the Quinquennium, respecting the criteria noted above. The  Council can co-opt new members for the rest of the Quinquennium, provided that this is needed in order to promote Pugwash activities in some particular area.  

The President, Secretary General and Executive Director are members of the Council ex-officio.  Former Secretaries General will be invited to serve as ex-officio members of the Council for the duration of the 11th Quinquennium. 

The Executive Committee of the Council consists of up to ten members, including the four officers of Pugwash (President, Secretary General, the Executive Director, and the chair of the Pugwash Council), plus up to six other members selected by the Pugwash Council.  The chair of the Executive Committee will be selected from its non-officer members.  The Executive Committee may co-opt other members of Council to meet special needs.  The primary tasks of the Executive Committee are to oversee and approve the budget and financial statements of the organization, to help in fundraising, to assist the Secretary General in the implementation of the policies and activities of Pugwash, and to act in matters of policy and take up such other matters as directed and authorized by Council.  The Executive Committee can approve Pugwash activities and issue (under its own name) public statements on behalf of the Pugwash Council, but all such decisions are reported to and approved by Council in timely fashion.

Council meetings are held at least once a year,  normally on the occasion of the general conference, or as needed.  The Executive Committee meets as often as needed between Council meetings, but no less than once a year to approve the budget and financial statements. 

The President is the titular head of the Pugwash Conferences.  The function of the President is to represent Pugwash on formal and public occasions, in addition to participating in the decisions and discussions of the governing bodies.

The Secretary General is the chief executive officer of Pugwash and has responsibility for the organizing of activities, the international offices, financial transactions, and official correspondence of the Pugwash Conferences.  The Secretary General has the responsibility for formulating decisions related to the proposed agenda, nominations of chairpersons, speakers, and authors, and lists of participants for Pugwash conferences, workshops, meetings and consultations.  The Secretary General will keep Council informed on a timely basis of his/her decisions and actions, and in all aspects the Secretary General is ultimately accountable to the Council.

The Executive Director works with the Secretary General in managing the day-to-day activities of Pugwash, including the organizing of workshops and conferences, publications and website, outreach to national groups, and fundraising and budgetary issues.

The President and Secretary General are elected by the Council whenever a vacancy occurs.  National Pugwash Groups and the broader Pugwash community should be invited to suggest candidates for these positions and confirmation of such appointments should be obtained at the next Quinquennial Conference. The Executive Director is appointed by the Pugwash Council for the duration of the 11th Quinquennium, through 2012, subject to renewal at that time.

6. National Groups.
National Pugwash Groups are formed because they contribute to Pugwash by:

a)     stimulating the interest of scientists and experts of their country in Pugwash activities;

b)    influencing their governments and public opinion, through individual meetings and other forms of outreach;

c)     organizing national programs consisting of seminars, lecture courses, public and private meetings, and other activities (sometimes jointly with other groups) to further the objectives of Pugwash;

d)    suggesting participants for international Pugwash activities;

e)     submitting to Council suggestions for organizing and hosting international meetings, including the selection of participants, invited papers, chairpersons, rapporteurs;

f)     providing hospitality and facilities to international Pugwash meetings;

g)    raising money for Pugwash activities;

h)    contributing to the travel of participants from their country to international Pugwash activities.

The form of organization of the national groups will vary from country to country, but each national group should contain prominent members of the scientific community.  With respect to nominations of individuals for Pugwash activities, final selection of participants will be made by the Pugwash Council, based on qualifications for the task at hand.

7. Student/Young Pugwash.
The International Student/Young Pugwash movement, with its own agenda and goals, helps introduce the younger generation to the principles and objectives of the Pugwash Conferences.  Liaison with Student/Young Pugwash groups is maintained by inviting their active participation in the Pugwash general conference and other Pugwash activities. 

8. Relations with Other Organizations. Pugwash
as an independent entity does not affiliate itself with other organizations. Ad hoc collaboration with other groups is encouraged, provided that the principles and modus operandi of Pugwash are respected.  Financial support from outside bodies is acceptable, and indeed essential for the work of Pugwash, but no strings may be attached.  No funds should be accepted if this entails taking away from Council the freedom to invite individual scientists, the choice of topics for discussion or of meeting venues, or the issuing of public statements.


9. The General Conferences: The
general conference plays a central role in Pugwash activities in several important ways.  These conferences are organized at a time interval normally ranging from 12 to 18 months.  It allows a larger number of participants to come together on a periodic basis to meet and share information and expertise on a wide variety of scientific and policy issues, thus providing continuity for the organization.  The general conference also has an important function in reviewing work over the previous year carried out in the smaller Pugwash workshops, and of identifying new and appropriate topics for Pugwash to focus on in the year ahead.  Finally, the general conference is also the occasion for meetings of Pugwash Council members with representatives of national Pugwash groups and Student/Young Pugwash.

The format of these conferences should be kept flexible, to be decided on by the Pugwash Council in consultation with the national group hosting the meeting.  Traditionally, the conferences have consisted primarily of large plenary sessions and smaller working group meetings, but these can be supplemented by special panel discussions, more time to review ongoing Pugwash work, and above all adequate time for discussion of future Pugwash activities.  The Council and host country should be encouraged to explore new formats for the general conference (including size, duration and types of conference activities) that can attract the highest quality participants from the scientific, academic and public policy communities.

A sufficiently high proportion of participants suggested by the national groups should be ensured, taking into account the need for new participants as well as adequate geographical, gender and age distribution.  Above all, the emphasis should be on the quality of the participants rather than the number of countries from which they come.  While national groups will be asked to suggest participants from their countries at an early date, the Council need not accept all such suggestions.  If no suggestions are forthcoming, the Secretary General, consulting with Council, will decide on persons to be invited.   

Adequate representation from developing countries is desirable and important, and financial help for travel should be sought for this.

The national Pugwash group hosting the general conference must make every effort to ensure that all those invited by the Council will be allowed entry into the country.

10. Quinquennial Conference. Held every five years
, the Quinquennial Conference is the occasion for deciding organizational issues such as election of the Council and confirmation of the President and Secretary General, as well as the revision of the documents on the goals and principles of Pugwash.

11. Workshops and Study Groups. The primary
analytic and substantive work of Pugwash occurs in the workshops and study group meetings held during the year.  These are typically 2-3 day meetings of between 15 and 40 people, selected on the basis of their knowledge and understanding of the subject under discussion.  The initiative for organizing international workshops, special meetings  rests with the Secretary General and the national Pugwash Group hosting the meeting, with the Secretary General satisfying himself/herself that conditions ensuring a high quality of discussion will be met.  Suggestions on participants from national groups should be encouraged, with the Secretary General having the final say.  Every effort should be made to commission high quality papers and to generally ensure the widest possible dissemination of workshop summaries, papers, and policy recommendations.At the conclusion of the general conference, the Council often issues a statement, on its own behalf, on important security issues facing the international community.  Such statements, taking relevant work of the annual/periodic conference into account, will be disseminated widely to national groups, international organizations and NGOs, national governments, and the media.

12. Special Projects. The Secretary
General may also commission special projects, carried out by small teams or individuals, on well defined topics.  Such sustained projects could be carried out by ad hoc groups working under the supervision of the Secretary General, or by one or more national groups, after approval by the Secretary General.  Such projects may also be undertaken jointly with outside bodies.

13. Other Activities. The Secretary
General may also take advantage of special opportunities for convening private meetings (Consultations) between scientists and policy specialists on particularly urgent and sensitive matters.  Although Pugwash normally avoids secret meetings, occasionally such non-publicized, private meetings can play a particularly useful role in advancing the objectives on which Pugwash was founded.

Study group meetings are those workshops convened on particular topics, that meet sequentially over a period of time, and that consist of a high proportion of the same participants.  Study groups are most often convened directly by the Secretary General and are the preferred format for those core Pugwash issues (nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons, conflict resolution, regional security and regional stability) where expertise and analysis need to be built up over time.

Publications and Outreach

14. Publications.
While based on the premise that free and frank discussions at Pugwash meetings are best served by keeping such meetings private, it is nonetheless of great importance that the results and analysis emanating from Pugwash discussions have the widest possible dissemination to the scientific/research community, policymakers, the media, other non-governmental organizations, and the general public.

The primary publication is the Pugwash Newsletter, published twice a year, which includes coverage of Pugwash workshops, conferences, and other events, selected papers from Pugwash meetings, news of national Pugwash groups, and other items of interest to the Pugwash community, to colleagues in the scientific and scholarly communities, and to research institutions. 

Increasingly, the Pugwash Website has complemented the Newsletter as a timely source of information on Pugwash meetings, outreach activities, governance, national groups, and other information of interest to the Pugwash and wider scientific communities.  The Pugwash Website continues to expand and, given its cost-effectiveness over printed materials, should be fully utilized as a resource to those with access to the world wide web.  Increasing use is also being made of PugwashForum and PugwashNet, two email listservs with which to communicate with the international Pugwash community and Pugwash national groups, respectively. 

Other Pugwash publications that seek to inform, educate, and have an impact on the thinking of policymakers, the media, NGOs, policy specialists, and the public are:

  • Pugwash Occasional Papers: collections of essays focusing in-depth on particular issues of concern to Pugwash, usually emanating from a particular Pugwash workshop or study group series;
  • Pugwash Issue Briefs: these shorter publications are aimed primarily at policymakers, leaders of NGOs and international organizations, and the media, and contain detailed and specific analyses and proposals designed to influence policy and public opinion.
  • Pugwash Books and MonographsPugwash has a long tradition of publishing books and monographs containing comprehensive analysis of issues central to the Pugwash agenda, and should continue to do so based on the criteria of need and cost-effectiveness.  

In addition to the above, Pugwash will continue to explore and make use of new publication formats made possible by advances in electronic and internet technology, with the aim of disseminating research and policy analysis to the widest audience possible in the shortest time-frame and at the lowest cost.

15. Outreach. As an
organization dedicated to informal and informed debate among individuals often having different opinions but discussing issues in the scientific spirit of give-and-take free inquiry, Pugwash also has a responsibility to inform governments, policymakers, and the public of its conclusions.  In addition to the publications mentioned above, other ways of achieving this goal are:

  • holding open plenaries during the general conference that are open to the media and the public;
  • convening press conferences and issuing press releases, when appropriate, at the conclusion of general conferences and specialized workshops;
  • holding public events, with special Pugwash speakers, in conjunction with specialized Pugwash workshops and study group meetings;
  • encouraging participants in Pugwash meetings to meet and talk with their national policymakers and media, while recognizing that such individuals will be speaking for themselves and not on behalf of Pugwash, and will not be quoting other meeting participants without express permission or otherwise identifying particular individuals or groups with particular views;
  • greater use of the internet and the Pugwash website to convey information to policymakers, the media, and the informed public, through targeted email notification of new postings on the Pugwash website.

In view of the sensitive nature of many of the topics discussed at Pugwash meetings, only the Pugwash Council or its Executive Committee are authorized to issue public statements on behalf of Pugwash.  When such statements are issued, they should receive the widest publicity, reaching all of the relevant Pugwash constituencies.

When the officers of Pugwash (President, Secretary General, Executive Director and Chair of Council) take a public stand, they should make clear whether they are speaking on behalf of Pugwash (according to a mandate received by Council or the Executive Committee) or on their own initiative.


                        Adopted at the 57th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs
                        26 October 2007, Bari, Italy

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