The Oxford International Peace Conference

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Following the World Congress on General Disarmament and Peace in Moscow, many of the international non-aligned groups present agreed to reconvene to discuss the possibility of establishing their own global network. The meeting was held in Oxford University in early January 1963. Over thirty non-aligned peace organisations and groups sent representatives to the conference, which pledged to ‘oppose the testing, manufacture and possession of nuclear arms by all nations’.

Canon John Collins, a co-founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in November 1957, invited the WPC to send a number of observers to the conference, but this invitation was quickly rescinded when delegates from the US, New Zealand, France and Belgium warned they would not attend if the Soviet-aligned WPC was permitted to join the discussions. The conference went ahead without the WPC observers, and the delegates of non-aligned groups present agreed to form a loose federation under the name of the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace (ICDP). Relations between non-aligned organisation and groups and the WPC would remain strained for the next few decades up to and beyond the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In the memorandum below Bernal clearly outlines his displeasure at the way the organisers of the Oxford conference withdrew the invitation to WPC members, and in response suggests ‘all those in Oxford who favour the co-operation of forces of peace [are invited] to meet in London for informal discussion of the problems of peace and disarmament’.