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Cornell Peace Studies' Judith Reppy attends Norway Nobel ceremonies

The associate director of Cornell University's Peace Studies Program was in Norway last month for the presentation of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, which went to London scientist Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the organization over which Rotblat presides.

Cornell's Judith Reppy attended the Nobel ceremonies in Oslo City Hall on Dec. 10 as a co-chair of the U.S. Pugwash Committee and member of the organization's international governing body. Pugwash was founded 38 years ago in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, to work toward elimination of nuclear weapons.

Joining Reppy at the ceremonies -- which included a banquet and choral performance -- were Harvard University's Steve Miller, fellow co-chair of Pugwash's U.S. committee; John Holdren, chair of its executive council; and Richard Garwin, a long-standing Pugwash member and A.D. White Professor-at- Large at Cornell.

"It was a very happy occasion," Reppy said of the event. "People were thrilled that Pugwash had been honored in this important way and glad to celebrate it with close friends. The Peace Prize is the only one awarded by the Norwegian branch of the Nobel Institute, so the gathering was smaller than the one in Stockholm and, from all reports, more fun. There was a certain amount of pomp -- the king and queen attended the official ceremonies and the concert, and there was literally a red carpet for them to walk on -- but the atmosphere was generally friendly and informal." Besides her post with the Peace Studies Program -- where she also has served as director, a rotating position -- Reppy is an associate professor in Cornell's Department of Science and Technology Studies. A specialist in issues relating to military spending and the economy, she received a Ph.D. in economics from Cornell in 1972 and has been affiliated with the Peace Studies Program since 1973.

Reppy joined Pugwash in the early 1980s and has participated in its annual meetings as well as special topical meetings, such as one in 1985 on the Strategic Defense Initiative and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. She has contributed background papers for Pugwash and currently is editing a book for the organization on the conversion of military research and development, with contributions by Russian, European and American authors.

Based in Rome, Pugwash sponsors workshops and conferences on nuclear weapons and related issues.

"From the beginning, the idea was that scientists would meet to discuss important questions of security and arms control, off the record, seeking to find mutual understandings and new approaches outside the regular government-sponsored fora," Reppy said. "This method of sharing ideas was especially important in the early days of Pugwash -- that is, during the colder phases of the Cold War -- because there were very few avenues for communication between the West and the Soviet Union."

"[Pugwash] continues to be an important channel for discussion of sensitive issues, such as the issues surrounding ratification and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention," she added. "Over the years, the number of topics has expanded to include environmental issues, problems of development and security, and some aspects of ethnic conflict; [but] nuclear issues -- currently, the Comprehensive Test Ban and nuclear proliferation -- are still at the head of the list of Pugwash issues." Other Cornellians who have participated in Pugwash include Hans A. Bethe, the John Wendell Anderson Professor of Physics Emeritus; physics Professor Kurt Gottfried; Professor of Chemistry Emeritus Franklin A. Long; and government Professor Lawrence Scheinman.

Current international and civil conflicts notwithstanding, Reppy is optimistic about the future.

"I think prospects for nuclear disarmament are generally better than at any time since 1945, but that does not mean that it will be easy," she said. "Personally speaking, Pugwash has made me much more aware of the different perspectives of people around the world. It is an excellent corrective to the U.S.-centered discourse on security that we get so much of in our media."

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