Peace Activism in the Cold War: The Congress for International Cooperation & Disarmament, 1949-1970

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Rovetto, Laura (2020) Peace Activism in the Cold War: The Congress for International Cooperation & Disarmament, 1949-1970. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis examines the CICD’s commitment to the Australian peace movement from its formation in November 1959 and concluding with the first Melbourne Vietnam Moratorium Campaign in 1970. It also traces developments in the post-World War II peace movement, which led to the establishment of the CICD in 1959 as a part of a national association of state peace committees. The historiography of the Australian peace movement during the 1960s and early 1970s has generally focused on student and youth activism and has neglected the activism of the CICD. This thesis will therefore represent the first systematic, scholarly analysis of the organisation’s early activism, and will contribute to the redressing of a significant historiographical gap in the history of political activism in Australia, during the Cold War. It draws upon CICD’s records collection and related primary and secondary sources to argue that since its formation as the state leading peace body in Victoria, the CICD fostered a particular set of community values and has played an important role in developing effective networks of community alliances for the organisation of mass peace and anti-war protests. This thesis examines CICD’s involvement in general disarmament and anti-nuclear protests, campaigns for a non-aligned Australia, support for struggles of national independence and its opposition to Western policies towards and in Southeast Asia. Despite its claims of political neutrality, the CICD demonstrated an anti-Western imperialist attitude and unquestioned admiration for the Soviet Union. The CICD’s approach was largely consistent with the international peace movement’s pursuits in this period, which promoted the pro-Soviet policy of peaceful coexistence as a means of brokering international disputes and avoiding a nuclear, third world war. The CICD’s political activity was shaped not only by its links with the pro- Soviet international peace movement but also by Australian activist traditions. The correlation between these two factors was important in shaping the scope and nature of the CICD’s political activism and its organisational culture.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament; CICD; Australia; peace movement; political activism; Cold War; disarmament campaign; South East Asia; Vietnam War; Vietnam Moratorium Campaign
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