Event: The Pugwash Nobel Peace Prize 27 Years On: Reflections and Outlook

On December 10th 1995, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and Sir Joseph Rotblat, the youngest original signee of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo “for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.” 

The first Nobel Peace Prize jointly awarded to an individual and an organisation, their success reflected the optimism in post-Cold War Europe about the future of nuclear arms control and the imperative of the need to end nuclear weapons testing. Today, that optimism is in short supply.

To commemorate their recognition 27 years ago, three speakers who knew Rotblat personally will share their intimate stories of his life: from young scientist, to influential Pugwashite, to champion of student and young Pugwash voices. They will share rare videos and first-hand accounts from the ceremony and offer messages of hope about the future, particularly on the role of Pugwash, the need for dialogue across divides in times of international tension, and the importance of engaging a new generation of scientists and arms control advocates.

A short audience Q&A will follow.

Please join us virtually on December 9th at 12:00 EST / 17:00 GMT / 18:00 CET by registering here.


The speakers are:

John Finney, an Emeritus Professor of Physics at University College London, and former Chief Scientist at the UK’s pulsed neutron source. His research has focussed on understanding liquids and disordered solids, in particular the function of water in biological systems. He is a Fellow of both the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Since 2000 he has worked extensively within the Pugwash movement, where he worked closely with Sir Joseph Rotblat, including on its Council and Executive Committee from 2007-2013. A past chair of British Pugwash and the Joseph Rotblat Memorial Trust, John has worked on raising awareness of nuclear weapons issues (a project initiated by Rotblat), technical aspects of nuclear weapon dismantlement for the Ministry of Defence, and the effects of emerging technologies on antisubmarine warfare.

Since 2013 he has represented Pugwash on UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Information and Technology COMEST. In addition to working on their Recommendations on Science and Scientific Researchers and recent reports on the Ethics of AI and the Ethics of the Internet of Things, he initiated the COMEST report on the Ethics of Robotics, in particular with respect to remotely-controlled and autonomous weapons.

Sandra Ionno Butcher, a member of the Pugwash Council and an advisor to International Student/Young Pugwash (ISYP). Prior to moving to her current position as Chief Executive of the National Organisation for FASD (UK), her career focused on the intersection of science, public policy and arms control/disarmament. Sandy worked for nearly 18 years in various capacities for Pugwash and Student Pugwash, including as Executive Director for International Pugwash, Joint Executive Secretary for British Pugwash, and Executive Director for Student Pugwash USA. Sandy has a special interest in Pugwash history. She was honoured to attend the 1995 Nobel celebrations representing Student Pugwash USA and to serve as an advisor for the efforts for Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash, Nova Scotia to receive National Historic Status in Canada.

Sverre Lodgaard, a Senior Research Fellow and former Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). Before joining NUPI he directed the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR, 1992-1996), and has since been a Senior Research Fellow of the Toda Peace Institute (2010-2020). Sverre has a long career in public service, including as a Member of the Pugwash Council since 1992; a Member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; a Member of the Norwegian Government’s Advisory Council for Arms Control and Disarmament; an Advisor/member of Norwegian delegations to international conferences on arms control and disarmament matters; and President of the Oslo Polytechnic Society. 

He has been published multiple times, including Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (Routledge, 2011); In the Wake of the Arab Spring (Scandinavian Academic Press, 2013); External Powers and the Arab Spring (Scandinavian Academic Press, 2016); and Stable Nuclear Zero (Routledge, 2017).

Sverre attended his first Pugwash conference in 1976, and in the flowing years participated in numerous workshops and conferences. In 1997 he hosted the Pugwash quinquennial conference in Lillehammer, Norway, and had the privilege to work closely with Jo Rotblat on many of these occasions.


This event is co-sponsored by Student Young Pugwash-UK

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