World Congresses and Conferences for Peace

World Congresses and Conferences for Peace

 

began to be convened in the mid-19th century for the purpose of unifying opponents of war. By the 1970’s, about 150 world congresses and conferences had been held. Of these, about 40 took place before World War I (1914-18), more than 60 were convened between the two world wars, and the rest were held after World War II (1939-45).

The first world peace congresses (the World Peace Congress, London, 1843; the International Congress of Pacifists, Brussels, 1848; the Congress of the Friends of World Peace, Paris, 1849; and the World Peace Congress, Frankfurt, 1850) brought together solitary, relatively small groups of idealistic pacifists who envisioned a path toward strengthening peace primarily through the dissemination of religious dogmas. The connection of the struggle for peace with the social liberation of the toiling masses was obvious only to advanced minds of that period. This connection was distinctly set forth in Marx’ Constituent Manifesto of the International Workers’ Association (1864) and in a number of later documents of the inter-national workers’ movement. However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries pacifists constituted a majority at inter-national peace congresses and conferences, and they advocated passive methods of preserving peace, not seeing that effective antiwar actions presuppose a struggle against imperialism. World War I, which was unleashed by the imperialists, demonstrated the bankruptcy of the pacifist position. The class and ideological character of pacifism was revealed in the statements of V. I. Lenin and documents of the Bolshevik Party.

In addition to numerous pacifist congresses—quite a few of whose participants were sincere opponents of war—in the period between the two world wars there were congresses and conferences that mobilized the masses for an active struggle for peace and against the growing danger of fascism. Congresses that greatly influenced public opinion included the International Congress of Writers for Peace, which met in 1935 in Paris, and the International Congress of Writers for Peace and Culture, which gathered in 1937 in Madrid, which was at that time besieged by the fascists. The world congresses of this period laid the foundation for unifying sincere people of differing political views and religious convictions in the struggle against war, militarism, fascism, and inhumanity.

The defeat of fascism and the establishment of a world socialist system were prerequisites for the birth and development of a powerful antiwar movement in the postwar years. After World War II a mass world movement, the Partisans of Peace, was formed. Its members established a permanent international organization (since 1950, the World Council of Peace), which directed the movement between congresses. Peace congresses united people of good will leading the struggle against war, against the use of barbaric means of mass destruction—nuclear, bacteriological, and chemical weapons—and for the peaceful coexistence of states with different social structures.

The first postwar world peace congress was the Congress of Cultural Figures for Peace, which took place in August 1948 in Wroclaw. A world congress of the Partisans of Peace was held in April 1949 in Paris, as well as in Prague, where participants who were refused entry to Paris by the French government convened. Other congresses of the Partisans of Peace were held in November 1950 in Warsaw, in December 1952 in Vienna (the Congress of Peoples for Peace), in June 1955 in Helsinki (the World Assembly for Peace), in July 1958 in Stockholm (the Congress for Disarmament and International Cooperation), and in June 1965 in Helsinki (the World Congress for Peace, National Independence, and General Disarmament). In addition to these congresses, which were basically limited by the organizational framework of the Partisans of Peace, other congresses and conferences were convened, in which other social organizations participated. The World Congress for General Disarmament and Peace met in July 1962 in Moscow. It was attended by representatives of the World Council of Peace, national peace movements, the English Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the American Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, and other organizations. The World Conference on Vietnam met in Stockholm in July 1967 and was attended by representatives of 22 international and 60 national organizations. The conference decisively condemned American aggression against the people of-Vietnam and established a standing committee to coordinate actions in support of the just struggle of the Vietnamese people. The second World Conference on Vietnam took place on a still wider basis in March 1968 in Stockholm. In June 1969 the World Peace Assembly met in Berlin; various organizations and movements were represented and stated their positions for peace and against the threat of world war.

REFERENCES

Joliot-Curie, F. Piat’ let bor’by za mir. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from French.)
Chkhivadze, V. M. Bor’ba za mirneodolimaia sila dvizheniia sovremennosti. Moscow, 1969.
Les Congrès Internationaux de 1681 a 1899: Liste complète. Brussels, 1960.
International Congresses and Conferences, 1840-1937. Edited by W. Gregory. New York, 1938.
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