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The IPB was founded in 1891, as a result of consultations at the Universal Peace Congresses, large gatherings held annually to bring together the national peace societies that had gradually developed, mainly in Europe and North America, from the end of the Napoleonic Wars onwards.
In the inter-war period IPB struggled to get its voice heard but was gradually drowned out in the rising tide of nationalism. Secretary-General since 1911, Henri Golay was able to keep the Bureau functioning until the outbreak of war in 1939. His death in 1950 marked the end of the old IPB, but a new one was in the process of being born. After many organisational complications the International Liaison Committee of Organisations for Peace (ILCOP), which had inherited the assets of the old IPB, was renamed IPB in 1964 and ILCOP became a small private foundation.
IPB’s membership remained low in the 60s and 70s, but rose sharply after the merger with the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace in 1984. In 1963 there were 17 member organisations. There are now 186.
The first President of the new IPB was Ernst Wolf (1963-1974) who was the mastermind behind the merger and the establishment of the ILCOP foundation. He was succeeded in 1974 by Sean MacBride, who continued until 1985, giving way to Bruce Kent of British CND.
Currently, the IPB has two co-presidents: Ingeborg Breines and Reiner Braun.
The IPB archives, for the period 1891-1951, are deposited at the United Nations archives in Geneva (https://biblio-archive.unog.ch/detail.aspx?ID=311)
International Peace Bureau