In a demonstration people come together to express an opinion or to protest against a particular situation. In this way, they physically 'demonstrate' their beliefs.

Although demonstrations have been known to turn into more violent protests or riots, in general they are one of the most peaceful forms of direct action and have long been associated with the peace movement.

Peace campaigns emerge in protest against the threat of war, or in the event of war, as in the case of the Vietnam War and the recent War in Iraq. Peace demonstrations have also occurred as a way of protesting against the development of dangerous technologies such as nuclear bombs.

In the mid 20th century the focus of peace campaigners was nuclear disarmament. The first atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Three days later the second was dropped on Nagasaki. Japan's subsequent surrender ended the Second World War

America, Russia and Britain continued to develop and test new atomic weapons during the late 1940s and 1950s. In the wake of these events, the British public began to express fear and anger about the threat of nuclear war and the environmental damage caused by nuclear testing. These feelings gained new strength after the test explosion of a British hydrogen bomb in the Pacific in late 1957.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was launched in February 1958 at a massive public meeting in London. CND advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament (i.e. that Britain should get rid of its own weapons in the hope that other countries would follow its lead). The first major march for nuclear disarmament took place over the Easter weekend of 1958.

CND and other groups of peace activists communicated through their own mouthpiece newspapers such as Peace News and Sanity. These were a means of communicating mainly with insider members and supporters about the movement and to promote and gather support for direct action.

Today, CND continues to campaign against nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The CND logo remains one of the most widely recognised symbols in the world; both as the symbol for CND and as a general symbol for peace.

Peace News