Pugwash peace conferences ‘transcend politics’
By Richard Clark
“The general public, and even many men in position of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs,” states the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 in London. “We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity and forget the rest.”
But Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, author of Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, raises a question: “Are we all human, or are some more human than others?”
He knew whereof he spoke. As commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda in 1964, his exposure to the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandens in the face of his limited power to stop it, left him a broken, even suicidal, man.
Dallaire, now a Canadian senator who works for peace in remembrance of Rwanda’s tragedy, became an honorary patron of the recently created Pugwash Peace Exchange Society.
Of the society’s nine-member board of directors, five live in the Pugwash village, where the Pugwash Peace Exchange facility is scheduled to open next year during the 50th anniversary of the first Pugwash conference.
But members of the society live all over the world. Currently, there are 502 members, and the number is rapidly growing.
“I do want to assure you that both Pugwash Conferences and the Pugwash Peace Exchange transcend politics,” wrote spokesperson Krista Chiasson of whom I requested membership information.
“Peace is truly universal, and affects everybody in the world. Needing peace is no more political than needing air and water – all are necessary for survival.”
I believe there are Blaine residents of the same opinion who would like to become societal members. Count me in for one.
Dallaire, addressing the crowd gathered at his July 8 Pugwash reception, said, “On behalf of the Pugwash Peace Exchange, I would like to welcome all visitors to explore our site, and to learn more about our organization.
“We seek to create a place where people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from all corners of the world can come to learn about peace, and to find out how they can make a difference.
“The issue of peace is one that is very close to my heart, and one that should be close to all of our hearts – for without peace, humanity cannot progress. Peace in our world can be achieved. You can be a part of that.”
And so can we. In so doing, we will help the Peace Arch city live up to its name.
Dr. Jeffrey Boutwell, executive director of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs headquartered in Washington, D.C., attended Dallaire’s reception. I asked him to send us a message: “The essential nature of the Pugwash Conferences,” he stated, “is that we act as initiators and facilitators of dialogue among those in conflict, especially in regions where nuclear weapons could be used if war ever broke out. To that extent of course we transcend politics, as there will be no politics in the aftermath of nuclear devastation.”
Shake Hands with the Devil, available at the Bellingham Public Library, may be accessed through our Blaine branch.
I am reading the only book available, but I have ordered a copy for our own library.