Principles, Structure and Activities of Pugwash
For the Tenth Quinquennium (2002-2007)


The 1997 Pugwash Quinquennial Conference held in Lillehammer, Norway 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 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 an 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. More generally, its 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 (see the parallel document “Goals of Pugwash”).

2. The characteristics of Pugwash, governing its activities, are:

a) participants are invited in their personal capacity and represent no one but themselves;
b) participants are primarily natural and social scientists;
c) participants cover a wide spectrum of geographical, social, cultural 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;
f) as a rule, Pugwash carries out its activities independently, but occasionally it
may hold meetings jointly with kindred organizations.

3. The various Pugwash activities (Conferences, Workshops, Study Groups, 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, Pugwash meetings as a rule are held in private. This is the main modus operandi of Pugwash. But in addition to influencing governments by the transmission of the results of these discussions and meetings, Pugwash also seeks 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 by the Pugwash Council. Occasionally, Council may invite representatives of international organizations to attend as observers.

Pugwash is not a mass movement, but an organization of scholars, with participants drawn primarily from the natural and social sciences. 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 eminence (see also #6).

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

a) stimulating the interest of scientists of their country in Pugwash activities;
b) influencing their governments and public opinion, through individual meetings and other forms of outreach
(publicizing Pugwash statements, distributing Pugwash publications, etc.);
c) organizing national programs consisting of seminars, lecture courses, public
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 expenses of scientists from their country in international Pugwash activities.

No rigid formula should be used for the organization of national groups. The form of organization may vary from country to country, but each national group should contain prominent members of the scientific community. Evidence of its viability should be provided by annual reports on its activities to the Pugwash Council, which in turn will confirm the status of the Pugwash national groups at each Quinquennial.

With respect to suggestions of participants for Pugwash activities, a deliberate effort should be made to nominate as many women and younger members as feasible. Final selection of participants by the Pugwash Council will of course be based on qualifications for the task at hand.

6. 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 annual conference and other Pugwash activities. A member of international Student/Young Pugwash may also be invited to attend the annual meeting of the Pugwash Council as an observer.

7. Governing Bodies. 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 its functions to the Executive Committee.

Membership of the Council should reflect adequately the diversity of the international scientific community. 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 22 members. The Council will elect a Chairperson from among its members.

The Council is elected 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. Each National Group, or several collectively, making a suggestion is urged to include among its nominations both women and individuals under fifty years of age. 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. When unable to attend a Council meeting, a member may appoint a deputy for that particular meeting, but this practice should be invoked only exceptionally. 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 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 10th Quinquennium. In addition, Council may co-opt other members to meet special needs.

The Executive Committee consists of six members, including the President, Secretary General (who serves as chair), the Executive Director, and the chair of the Pugwash Council, plus two other members selected by the Pugwash Council. The Executive Committee may co-opt other members of Council to meet special needs. The task of the Executive Committee is to assist the Secretary General in the implementation of the policies and activities of Pugwash, to approve the budget and financial statements, 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 and approved by Council at its next meeting.

Council meetings are normally held once a year, on the occasion of the Annual Conference (see below). The Executive Committee meets as often as needed between the annual meetings of the Council, 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 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 and workshops. 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 10th Quinquennium, through 2007, subject to renewal at that time.

8. Relations with Other Organizations. Pugwash as an independent entity does not affiliate itself with other organizations. Occasionally, ad hoc collaboration with other groups may be encouraged; this applies in particular to organizations closely linked with Pugwash, such as the International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts (ISODARCO), and to kindred groups. Collaboration on specific projects with UN agencies also comes under this category. Exchange of information with other organizations should also be pursued.

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. Annual Conferences: The annual conference plays a central role in Pugwash activities in several important ways. First, it allows a larger number of participants (than workshops) to come together once a year to meet and share information and expertise on a wide variety of scientific and policy issues, thus providing continuity for the organization. The annual 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 annual conference is also the occasion for meetings of the Pugwash Council and of Pugwash officers and Council members with representatives of national Pugwash groups and Student/Young Pugwash.

The format of the annual conference should be kept flexible, to be decided on by the Pugwash Council in consultation with the national group hosting the meeting. Traditionally, annual 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 annual conference (including size, duration and types of conference activities) that can attract the highest quality participants from the scientific and 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 Council will decide on persons to be invited.

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

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

Normally, the Conference does not issue a public statement, and participants are informed of this beforehand. In exceptional circumstances, Council might decide that the issuance of a statement by the whole Conference might be contemplated, in which case the participants should be informed beforehand. The Council also, on its own behalf, issues a statement summarizing the findings of the Conference, based largely on the Reports of the Working Groups. Such statements will be disseminated widely to national groups, international organizations and NGOs, national governments, and the media.

10. Quinquennial Conference. Held every five years, the Quinquennial Conference is typically larger than the normal annual conference. Although organized in similar fashion to the annual conference, the Quinquennial Conference is also concerned with 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 several 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 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.

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, regional security) where expertise and analysis need to be built up over time.

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 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.

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 informed public.

The Pugwash Conferences have two general types of publications, internal (aimed primarily at the Pugwash and scientific/scholarly communities) and external (aimed at policymakers, the media, NGOs, policy specialists, and the informed public).

The primary internal 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 and ready 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.

A third type of internal publication is the Proceedings of the Pugwash Annual Conference, which contain an archival record of papers presented at the Conferences. Given the high cost of printing the Proceedings in book form, Pugwash will investigate moving to a widely-accessible electronic format for archiving and distributing such papers.

Pugwash external publications are those that seek to inform, educate, and have an impact on the thinking of policymakers, the media, NGOs, policy specialists, and the informed public. The primary such publications are:

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:

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.