World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

World Council of Peace

Article Id: WHEBN0001160199
Reproduction Date:

Title: World Council of Peace  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ivor Montagu
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

World Council of Peace

Not to be confused with World Peace Congress.

The World Peace Council (WPC) is an international organization that advocates universal disarmament, sovereignty and independence and peaceful co-existence, and campaigns against imperialism, weapons of mass destruction and all forms of discrimination. It was founded in 1950, emerging from the policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to promote peace campaigns around the world in order to oppose "warmongering" by the USA. Its first president was the eminent physicist Frédéric Joliot-Curie. It was based in Helsinki from 1968 to 1999 and its headquarters are now in Greece.

Current organisation

The WPC currently states its goals as: Actions against imperialist wars and occupation of sovereign countries and nations; prohibition of all weapons of mass destruction; abolition of foreign military bases; universal disarmament under effective international control; elimination of all forms of colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination; respect for the right of the peoples to sovereignty and independence, essential for the establishment of peace; non-interference in the internal affairs of nations; peaceful co-existence between states with different political systems; negotiations instead of use of force in the settlement of differences between nations.

The WPC is a registered NGO at the United Nations and co-operates primarily with the Non-Aligned Movement. It cooperates with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and other UN specialized agencies, special committees and departments. It is said to have successfully influenced their agendas, the terms of discussion and the orientations of their resolutions.[1] It also cooperates with the African Union, the League of Arab States and other inter-governmental bodies.[2]


Under its current rules, WPC members are national and international organizations that agree with its main principles and any of its objectives and pay membership fees. Other organizations may join at the discretion of the Executive Committee or become associate members. Distinguished individuals may become honorary members at the discretion of the Executive Committee.[3]

Although the WPC has been said to represent over 100 nations and national peace movements,[4] in March 2011 its website listed 22 members:[5]

  • Belgium-International Action for Liberation (INTAL)
  • Belgrade Forum for the world of equals
  • Brazilian Center for Solidarity of the peoples and struggle for Peace (CEBRAPAZ)
  • Canadian Peace Congress
  • Consejo Español en Defensa de la Solidaridad y la Paz (CEDESPAZ)
  • Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples (MOVPAZ)
  • Cyprus Peace Council
  • Czech Peace Movement
  • Finnish Peace Committee
  • German Peace Council
  • Greek Committee for International Détente and Peace (EEDYE)
  • Japan Peace Committee
  • Le mouvement de la paix de France
  • Movement for Peace,Sovereignty and Solidarity between the Peoples(MOPASSOL-Argentine)
  • Nepal Peace and Solidarity Council (NPSC)
  • OSPAAAL Spain
  • Peace Association of Turkey
  • Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation
  • Romanian Peace Council
  • Swedish Peace Committee
  • Swiss Peace Movement
  • US Peace Council
  • VREDE (Belgium)

In its early days the WPC attracted numerous "political and intellectual superstars",[6] including W.E.B Dubois, Paul Robeson, Howard Fast, Pablo Picasso,[6] Louis Aragon, Jorge Amado, Pablo Neruda, György Lukacs, Renato Guttuso,[7] Jean-Paul Sartre, Diego Rivera[8] and Joliot-Curie. Most were Communists or fellow travellers.


  • President: Socorro Gomes, Brazilian Center for the Solidarity with the Peoples and the Struggle for Peace (CEBRAPAZ)
  • General Secretary: Thanasis Pafilis, Greek Committee for International Détente and Peace (EEDYE)
  • Executive Secretary: Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Greek Committee for International Détente and Peace (EEDYE)[9]


The members of the Secretariat of the WPC are:

  • All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO)
  • Brazilian Center for the Solidarity with the Peoples and the Struggle for Peace (CEBRAPAZ)
  • Congo Peace Committee
  • Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples (MOVPAZ)
  • German Peace Council (DFR)
  • Greek Committee for International Détente and Peace (EEDYE)
  • Japan Peace Committee
  • Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity (PCPS)
  • Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC)
  • South African Peace Initiative
  • Syrian National Peace Council
  • US Peace Council (USPC)
  • Vietnam Peace Committee (VPC)[9]

Peace prizes

The WPC awards several peace prizes, some of which, it has been said, were awarded to politicians who funded the organisation.[10]



The WPC emerged from a Communist-led peace congress held at Wroclaw, Poland in 1948. A subsequent congress in Paris and Prague in 1949 set up a World Committee of Partisans for Peace, and a congress in Sheffield and Warsaw in 1950 reconstituted the Partisans as the World Peace Council.

The origins of the WPC lay in the Communist Information Bureau's (Cominform) doctrine, put forward 1947, that the world was divided between peace-loving progressive forces led by the Soviet Union and warmongering capitalist countries led by the United States. In 1949, Cominform directed that peace "should now become the pivot of the entire activity of the Communist Parties", and most western Communist parties followed this policy.[11] In 1950, Cominform adopted the report of Mikhail Suslov, a senior Soviet official, praising the Partisans for Peace and resolving that, "The Communist and Workers' Parties must utilize all means of struggle to secure a stable and lasting peace, subordinating their entire activity to this" and that "Particular attention should be devoted to drawing into the peace movement trade unions, women's, youth, cooperative, sport, cultural, education, religious and other organizations, and also scientists, writers, journalists, cultural workers, parliamentary and other political and public leaders who act in defense of peace and against war."[12]

Lawrence Wittner, a historian of the post-war peace movement, argues that the Soviet Union devoted great efforts to the promotion of the WPC in the early post-war years because it feared an American attack and American superiority of arms[13] at a time when the USA possessed the atom bomb but the Soviet Union had not yet developed it.[14]

Wroclaw 1948 and New York 1949

The World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace met in Wroclaw on 6 August 1948.[13][15] It elected a permanent International Committee of Intellectuals in Defence of Peace (also known as the International Committee of Intellectuals for Peace and the International Liaison Committee of Intellectuals for Peace) with headquarters in Paris.[16] It called for the establishment of national branches and national meetings along the same lines as the World Congress.[14][16] In accordance with this policy, a Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace was held in New York City in March 1949 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, sponsored by the National Council of Arts, Sciences and Professions.[16][17]

Paris and Prague 1949

The World Congress of Advocates of Peace in Paris (20 April 1949) repeated the Cominform line that the world was divided between "a non-aggressive Soviet group and a war-minded imperialistic group, headed by the United States government".[13] It established a World Committee of Partisans for Peace, led by a twelve person Executive Bureau and chaired by Professor Frédéric Joliot-Curie, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, High Commissioner for Atomic Energy and member of the French Institute. Most of the Executive were Communists.[11][14] One delegate to the Congress, the Swedish artist Bo Beskow, heard no spontaneous contributions or free discussions, only prepared speeches, and described the atmosphere there as "agitated", "aggressive" and "warlike".[18] The Congress was disrupted by the French authorities who refused visas to so many delegates that a simultaneous Congress was held in Prague."[14] Picasso's lithograph, La Colombe (The Dove) was chosen as the emblem for the Congress[19] and was subsequently adopted as the symbol of the WPC.(see picture).

Sheffield and Warsaw 1950

In 1950, the World Congress of the Supporters of Peace adopted a permanent constitution for the World Peace Council, which replaced the Committee of Partisans for Peace.[11][14] The opening congress of the WPC condemned the atom-bomb and the American invasion of Korea. It followed the Cominform line, recommending the creation of national peace committees in every country, and rejected pacifism and the non-aligned peace movement.[11] It was originally scheduled for Sheffield but the British authorities, who wished to undermine the WPC,[20] refused visas to many delegates and the Congress was forced to move to Warsaw. British Prime Minister Clement Attlee denounced the Congress as a "bogus forum of peace with the real aim of sabotaging national defence" and said there would be a "reasonable limit" on foreign delegates. Among those excluded by the government were Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Ilya Ehrenburg, Alexander Fadeyev and Dmitri Shostakovich. The number of delegates at Sheffield was reduced from an anticipated 2,000 to 500, half of whom were British.[16]


The WPC was directed by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party[21] through the Soviet Peace Committee,[22] although it tended not to present itself as an organ of Soviet foreign policy, but rather as the expression of the aspirations of the "peace loving peoples of the world".[23]

Subsequent Congresses were held in Vienna,[4] Berlin, Helsinki and Stockholm.[14]

The WPC led the international peace movement in the early 1950s, but its failure to speak out against the Russian suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the resumption of Soviet nuclear tests in 1961 marginalised it, and in the 1960s it was eclipsed by the newer, non-aligned peace organisations like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.[13] At first, Communists denounced the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament for "splitting the peace movement"[24] but they were compelled to join it when they saw how popular it was.


Until the late 1980s, the World Peace Council's principal activity was the organization of large international Congresses, nearly all of which had over 2,000 delegates representing most of the countries of the world. Most of the delegates came from pro-Communist organizations, with some observers from non-aligned bodies. There were also meetings of the WPC Assembly, its highest governing body. The Congresses and Assemblies issued statements, appeals and resolutions that called for world peace in general terms and condemned US weapons policy, invasions and military actions. The WPC was involved in demonstrations and protests especially in areas bordering U.S. military installations in Western Europe believed to house nuclear weapons. It campaigned against US-led military operations, especially the Vietnam war, although it did not condemn similar Soviet actions in Hungary and Afghanistan.

On 18 March 1950, the WPC launched its Stockholm Appeal at a meeting of the Permanent Committee of the World Peace Congress,[16] calling for the absolute prohibition of nuclear weapons. The campaign won popular support, collecting, it is said, 560 million signatures in Europe, most from socialist countries, including 10 million in France (including that of the young Jacques Chirac), and 155 million signatures in the Soviet Union – the entire adult population.[25] Several non-aligned peace groups who had distanced themselves from the WPC advised their supporters not to sign the Appeal.[14]

A World Congress of People for Peace was held in Vienna in 1952. It represented Joseph Stalin's strategy of peaceful coexistence,[26] resulting in a more broad-based conference. Among those attending were Jean-Paul Sartre and Hervé Bazin.

In June 1975 the WPC launched a second Stockholm Appeal during a period of détente between East and West. It declared that, "The victories of peace and détente have created a new international climate, new hopes, new confidence, new optimism among the peoples."[14]

In the 1980s it campaigned against the deployment of U.S. missiles in Europe

It published two magazines, New Perspectives and Peace Courier. Its current magazine is Peace Messenger.[9]

Associated groups

In accordance with the Comniform's 1950 resolution to draw into the peace movement trade unions, women's and youth organisations, scientists, writers and journalists, etc., several Communist mass organisations supported the WPC, for example:

Relations with non-aligned peace groups

The WPC has been described as being caught in contradictions as "it sought to become a broad world movement while being instrumentalized increasingly to serve foreign policy in the Soviet Union and nominally socialist countries."[30] From the 1950s until the late 1980s it tried to use non-aligned peace organizations to spread the Soviet point of view. At first there was limited co-operation between such groups and the WPC, but western delegates who tried to criticize the Soviet Union or the WPC's silence about Russian armaments were often shouted down at WPC conferences[13] and they gradually dissociated themselves from the WPC.

As the non-aligned peace movement "was constantly under threat of being tarnished by association with avowedly pro-Soviet groups", many individuals and organizations "studiously avoided contact with Communists and fellow-travellers."[31] As early as 1949 the World Pacifist Meeting warned against active collaboration with Communists.[13] In 1950, several Swedish peace organizations warned their supporters against signing the WPC's Stockholm Appeal.[14] In 1953, the International Liaison Committee of Organizations for Peace stated that it had "no association with the World Peace Council". In 1956, a year in which the WPC condemned the Suez war but not the Russian suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising,[13] the German section of War Resisters International condemned it for its failure to respond to Soviet H-bomb tests. In Sweden, Aktionsgruppen Mot Svensk Atombomb discouraged its members from participating in communist-led peace committees. The WPC attempted to co-opt the eminent peace campaigner Bertrand Russell, much to his annoyance, and in 1957 he refused the award of the WPC's International Peace Prize.[32] In Britain, CND advised local groups in 1958 not to participate in a forthcoming WPC conference. In the USA, SANE rejected WPC appeals for co-operation.

A final break occurred during the WPC's 1962 World Congress for Peace and Disarmament in Moscow. The WPC had invited non-aligned peace groups, who were permitted to criticize Soviet nuclear testing, but when western activists including the British Committee of 100[33] tried to demonstrate in Red Square against Soviet weapons and the Communist system, their banners were confiscated and they were threatened with deportation.[13][34][35] As a result of this confrontation, forty non-aligned organizations decided to form a new international body, the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace, which was not to have Soviet members.[36]

In the mid-1960s, under the leadership of J. D. Bernal, a high-profile British scientist, the WPC tried to secure the co-operation of non-aligned peace groups in demanding an end to hostilities in Vietnam, which Bernal believed was jeopardised by China's insistence that the WPC give unequivocal support for North Vietnam.[37] In 1968, the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia brought about a crisis in the WPC, and at a Secretariat meeting in September that year only one delegate supported it.[37]

Because of the energetic activity of the WPC from the late 1940s onwards, with its huge conferences and large budget, there was a tendency for the general public and some Western political leaders to regard all peace activists as Communists[14] and it was sometimes said that the peace movement in the West danced to the tune of the WPC. For example, US President Ronald Reagan said that the big peace demonstrations in Europe in 1981 were "all sponsored by a thing called the World Peace Council, which is bought and paid for by the Soviet Union",[38][39] and Soviet defector Vladimir Bukovsky claimed that they were co-ordinated at the WPC's 1980 World Parliament of Peoples for Peace in Sofia.[40] The FBI reported to the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that the WPC-affiliated U.S. Peace Council was one of the organizers of a large 1982 peace protest in New York City, but said that the KGB had not manipulated the American movement "significantly."[41]

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is said to have had "overlapping membership and similar policies" to the WPC.[27] The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and the Dartmouth Conferences were said to have been used by Soviet delegates to promote Soviet propaganda.[28] Joseph Rotblat, one of the leaders of the Pugwash movement, said that there were a few participants in Pugwash conferences from the Soviet Union "who were obviously sent to push the party line, but the majority were genuine scientists and behaved as such".[42]

Rainer Santi, in his history of the International Peace Bureau, writes that the WPC "has always had difficulty in securing cooperation from West European and North American peace organisations because of its obvious affiliation with Socialist countries and the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. Especially difficult to digest, was that instead of criticising the Soviet Union's unilaterally resumed atmospheric nuclear testing in 1961, the WPC issued a statement rationalising it. In 1979 the World Peace Council explained the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as an act of solidarity in the face of Chinese and US aggression against Afghanistan."[14]

In 1983, the British peace campaigner E.P. Thompson attended the World Peace Council's World Assembly for Peace and Life Against Nuclear War in Prague at the suggestion of the Czech dissident group Charter 77. He raised the issue of democracy and civil liberties in the Communist states, but Assembly responded by loudly applauding a delegate who said that "the so-called dissident issue was not a matter for the international peace movement, but something that had been injected into it artificially by anti-communists."[43] The banned Hungarian group Dialogue also tried to attend the 1983 Assembly but "were met with tear gas, arrests, and later deportation back to Hungary."[43]

It was suggested by a former secretary of the WPC that it simply failed to connect with the western peace movement. It was said to have used most of its funds on international travel and lavish conferences, to have poor intelligence on Western peace groups, and, even though its HQ was in Helsinki, to have no contact with Finnish peace organizations.[6]

After the demise of communism

By the mid-1980s the Soviet Peace Committee "concluded that the WPC was a politically expendable and spent force,"[6] although it continued to fund the WPC up to 1991.[10] As the Soviet Peace Committee was the conduit for Soviet direction of the WPC, this judgement represented a downgrading of the WPC by the Soviet Communist Party. Under Mikhail Gorbachev the Soviet Peace Committee developed bilateral international contacts "in which the WPC not only played no role, but was a liability."[6] Gorbachev never met with WPC President Romesh Chandra and excluded him from many Moscow international forums.[6] Following the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, the WPC lost most of its support and dwindled to a smaller core group. It was found to have lost most of its income and most of its staff.[44] Its international conferences now attract only a tenth of the delegates that its Soviet-backed conferences could attract (see below), although it still issues statements couched in similar terms to those of its historic appeals.[9]


The WPC first set up its offices in Paris, but was accused by the French government of engaging in "fifth column" activities and was expelled in 1952. It moved to Prague and then in 1954 to Vienna.[45] In 1957 it was banned by the Austrian government. It was invited to Prague but did not move there,[45] had no official HQ but continued to operate in Vienna[14] under cover of the International Institute for Peace.[46] In 1968 it re-assumed its name and moved to Helsinki,[14] Finland, where it remained until 1999. In 2000 it re-located to Athens, Greece.[4]


According to the WPC, 90 per cent of its funding came from the Soviet Union,[47] which was said to have given it $49 million.[28] Its current income is believed to derive mainly from the interest on a $10m payment made by the Soviet Peace Committee in around 1991, although its finances remain shrouded in mystery and it has destroyed all its financial records from 1949 to 1991.[10]

Congresses and assemblies

The highest WPC body, the Assembly, meets every three years.[3]

Year Event Location No. of delegates Countries represented Comments
1948 World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace Wrocław 600 46[48]
1949 World Congress of Advocates of Peace Paris and Prague 2,200 72 Established the World Committee of Partisans for Peace, chaired by Frédéric Joliot-Curie.
1950 World Congress of the Supporters of Peace Sheffield and Warsaw Moved from Sheffield to Warsaw as a result of the British government refusing visas to delegates.
1951 Stockholm[37]
1952 Congress of the People for Peace Vienna[4] Presiding committee included Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Robeson, Pablo Neruda, Diego Rivera, and Louis Aragon.[8] Also attended by Madame Sun Yat Sen, Ilya Ehrenburg and Hewlett Johnson.[49]
1952 Berlin
1953 Helsinki
1955 Budapest
1958 World Congress on Disarmament and International Cooperation[4] Stockholm Bertrand Russell withdrew his sponsorship of the congress and denounced the WPC for its refusal to condemn the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and the kidnapping and murder of Hungarian prime minister, Imre Nagy.[50]
1962 World Conference for General Disarmament and Peace[4] Moscow Addressed by Nikita Khruschev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[51] Attended by delegates from non-aligned groups. Sponsors include Bertrand Russell and Canon John Collins of CND.[34] As a result of confrontation between western and Soviet delegates, forty non-aligned organizations form the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace, without Soviet membership.[36]
1965 World Congress for Peace, National Independence and General disarmament Helsinki 1,470[52] 98[52] Called for withdrawal of all U.S. armed forces from Vietnam.[52][53]
1971 Assembly Budapest[54]
1973 World Congress of Peace Forces[55] Moscow 3,200[56] Chaired by Romesh Chandra, the general secretary of the WPC.[56] The main speaker was Leonid Brezhnev
1980 World Parliament of Peoples for Peace Sofia 2,230[28] 134[28] Launched campaigns against stationing of new US nuclear weapons in Western Europe, against Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel, and campaigns of solidarity with Vietnam, Syria, Cuba, the PLO and the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan.[57]
1983 World Assembly for Peace and Life Against Nuclear War[14] Prague 2,635[28] 132[58] Noted that "An especially acute danger is represented by plans to deploy first-strike nuclear missiles in Western Europe."[58] Members of Charter 77 not permitted to attend.[59] Members of the Hungarian dissident movement Dialogue who attempted to attend "were met with tear gas, arrests, and later deportation back to Hungary."[43]
1986 World Congress for the International Year of Peace[14][60] Copenhagen 2,648[28] The International Year of Peace was declared by the United Nations.[61] This was said to be the first WPC-sponsored congress to be held in a NATO country.[60] The Coalition for Peace through Security demonstrated against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, giving rise to worldwide media coverage.[62]
1990 Athens
1996 Mexico
2000 Athens 186[63]
2004 Athens 150[64] 50+[64]
2005 Seoul, Korea[63]
2008 World Congress of the World Peace Council[65] Caracas, Venezuela 120 76
2009 New York 400[63] 194[63]
2012 World Peace Assembly and Conference[66] Kathmandu/Nepal

Past Presidents

  • Frédéric Joliot-Curie (1950–1958)
  • John Desmond Bernal (1959–1965)
  • Isabelle Blume (1965–1969)
  • Romesh Chandra (General Secretary in 1966–1977; President in 1977–1990), since then he has been its President of Honour
  • Evangelos Maheras (1990–1993)
  • Albertina Sisulu (1993–2002)
  • Prof Niranjan Singh Maan (General secretary )
  • Orlando Fundora López (2002–2008)

Allegation of CIA measures against the WPC

The Central Intelligence Agency is said to have taken covert action against the WPC, for example, attempting to neutralize its campaigns against the US and preventing it from organizing outside the communist bloc.[67] The Congress for Cultural Freedom, founded in 1950 with the support of the CIA, may have been established partly to counter the propaganda of the emerging WPC.


External links

  • World Peace Council homepage
  • , Swarthmore College Peace Collection
  • Prince, Rob. The Ghost Ship of Lonnrotinkatu, Peace magazine, vol. 8, no. 3, p. 16, May/Jun 1992.
  • Prince, Rob. Following the Money Trail at the World Peace Council, Peace magazine, vol. 8, no. 6, p. 20, Nov/Dec 1992.
  • Erich Hoenkers speech to the WPC meeting in East Berlin
  • U.S. Peace Council
  • (Council for the National Interest, Melbourne), No. 64, Autumn 2005, pages 52–63
  • Pathe News film of 1962 Moscow Congress

See also

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.