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The contribution of Oana Celia Gheorghiu was supported by Project SOP HRD - PERFORM /159/1.5/S/138963
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The refreshment of the international peace myth: the Pact of Paris
Lect. univ. dr. Cătălin Negoiţă
“Dunarea de Jos” University of Galati
Abstract: In 1928, in Paris, it will be signed a pact of prohibition of war as a solution to solve all conflicts between different states, known in history as the Briand Kellogg Pact. Thought by the French Foreign Affairs Minister, Aristide Briand, as a bilateral French-American pact, the trait became multilateral as a consequence of American Secretary of State’s position, Frank Kellogg, who did not want to connect USA to the French problem concerning border security after the First World War. This pact is infringed for the first time after only three years and proved it’s inefficiency due to the lack of juridical instruments in order to be applicable.
Keywords: war, pact, Briand-Kellog, security, disarmament
At the end of World War I, the system of peace treaties failed to solve the big problems the contemporary world was facing. The Covenant of the League of Nations was formulated in the Preamble to the Peace Treaty of Versailles, whose aim was to ensure world peace. Under Article 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, members of this body recognize that peace-keeping requires downsizing army to a minimum consistent with national security and to the international obligations imposed by joint action1.
Fierce battles on diplomatic realm during the peace negotiations were fought for the chapter on "arrangements to ensure the safety of France". During the signature of the Treaty of Versailles, the chair of Marshal Foch remained empty. The old soldier has not agreed to the treaty, as: "it does not give to France its guarantees of security". Moreover, Marshall said categorically: "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years!"2
For French people, the idea about the formation of a security system in Europe was very important. The politicians from Hexagon, along with the efforts of obtaining the greatest possible benefit from the defeat of Germany, have consistently followed a close cooperation with the United States and Britain. Winning in Europe the dispute with its eternal rival, France was out of dependence on Germany, but the dependence on "German problem" still remained in place3.
As the Conference held in Cannes from 1921-1922, the Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, adopted in 1924 by Geneva forum, or the Locarno Pacts failed to provide more certainties to Paris policy for security increasing, it became clear that the Hexagon had to change its policy.
On 6 April 1927, the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, appealed to the American people proposing the conclusion of an agreement between France and the United States to outlaw war. Briand continued his attempts to ensure security for France. He counted on a reality getting more and more obvious over the Ocean: the tendencies of U.S.A. to abandon the isolationism and promote a global policy. The leaders of this movement were James Shotwell and Nicholas Murray Butler.
During 1926, both Butler and Shotwell had discussions with Briand, advising him to apply directly to the American people, with the proposal to remove the conclusion of the pact outlawing war. Briand accepted this suggestion, wanting to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, to strengthen the French position with the "American Shield" on the other hand, to reduce the frictions between the two countries.
Dissatisfied with Briand's attitude, since he appealed to the American people and not to officials in Washington, President Coolidge and Secretary of State Kellogg initially did not consider the French proposal. American political leaders believed that Paris gesture lacked of fair play. Briand's message was received coldly by the White House and American newspapers did not give any importance to the French proposal4.
Only on April 25th, New York Times published a letter of Nicholas Murray Butler, representing the starting point in the campaign which will lead to the signing of the treaty. Butler said in the New Yorker paper: "Briand’s reasoning is perfectly practical, he is only asking if the U.S. Government intends to adhere to the League of Nations, and did not ask us if we intend to adhere to the Treaty of Locarno or if we agree to the Statute of the International Court of Justice. All we are asked is whether the American people express their desire that, in no case to resort to war in political relations with France"5.
Taking advantage of the moment, the French Foreign Ministry put forward his proposal to U.S. Government for a "Treaty of Eternal Friendship". But the Secretary of State Kellogg was however of the opinion that Briand's proposal would embarrass the American mentality if a war fought by France. The State Department was put in a delicate situation: if the treaty would not accepted, the American public opinion favorable to pacifism would be discontented, while the approval of the treaty would imply the risk of U.S. involvement in European conflicts. If Kellogg and U.S. Chief Executive were reticent at first against the French message, in June 1927, U.S. Government's vision began to change.
On December 28, 1927, the Secretary of State Kellogg proposed the conclusion of a multilateral, not one bilateral for war outlawing, with the participation of other countries. On January 5th, 1928, the French government sent a note to the U.S. Secretary of State, comprising the consent of Paris for Briand's project to undergo accession by all States willing, considering, however, that the pact would have a greater importance if France and the U.S. would sign it first. Briand's Note alerted the U.S. State Department. There was the concern that, through this project, France would link the United States to the League of Nations and Locarno.
On January 21th, 1928, Washington received another French telegram. Briand reminded Kellogg of the existence of the Covenant of the League of Nations and its resolution, prohibiting wars of aggression. The French Minister said that France, as a member of the League of Nations could not absolutely renounce of war, provided by League status as sanction in certain cases. Consequently, Briand proposed the U.S. government a Treaty meant to condemn war, according to the resolution adopted by the League of Nations
A new American answer was sent to Paris on February 27th, 1928. In this letter, the Secretary of State Kellogg insists again on the idea of unconditional abolition of all wars, and at the end of the note, he returned to the previous proposal by which France and U.S. pledged to inform the British, Italian, German and Japanese governments about the original text proposed by Briand, as well as the correspondence between France and the U.S., as a preliminary basis for discussion. Kellogg pointed out that, after the multilateral treaty, the United States could enter into a bilateral treaty with France.
Cavalcade of diplomatic notes continued. On March 31st, 1928, Kellogg received a new message from Paris. In the note, after specifying again the reasons for which the U.S. proposals could not be accepted unreservedly, the recognition of the legitimacy of defensive war is called again.
On April 13th, 1928 U.S. treaty draft was publicly released and sent to the governments of Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan. U.S. draft treaty contains three articles and a preamble. The first two articles repeated the formula proposed by Briand Pact. The Article 3, introduced by Kellogg, sought to make the ratification by each State in accordance with its Constitution. In turn, France proposed a draft treaty which contained six articles. The difference between the two parties gravitated around the Statute League of Nations.
Meanwhile, the idea of a pact prohibiting war catches on. In a speech in Houston, Texas, U.S. President Coolidge said: "If this pact would exist in 1914, the war would not occurred!"6. On April 28th, 1928, Kellogg declared that the United States believes that the right of self-defense is inalienable. But this principle was highly interpretable. Thus, under the protection of a "Monroe Doctrine" acclimatized in Europe, Britain could make war against regions of the world where its interests were endangered. In turn, the United States could wage war on the American continent, and its intervention should not be considered as coming from an aggressor country under the protection of "Monroe doctrine". Proving that "Monroe doctrine" was on the top of principles of American foreign policy, during the negotiations of last details of the pact, the Marines occupied Nicaragua, while retaliatory actions took place in Honduras7.
On August 18th, 1928, the U.S. Secretary of State embarked from the port of New York for Cherbourg, to participate at anti-war pact signing. Frank Kellogg went to Europe on board of "Ille de France". A note published in the "New York Times" generated curiosity. For the first time after Wilson, a leading American political walks in Europe. Destination: Paris. Purpose: signing the Pact Outlawing War. It is understandable why the public was waiting with baited breath news from this unusual event. And the long-awaited day has come...
Versailles Clock Hall...
"In front of the famous clock, the Vergennes's desk, where all negotiations were signed since more than two centuries, was replaced with a small yellow wooden desk and on this desk was a virgin parchment. Three shots were heard and Briand went in, preceded by two halberdiers, like at a wedding. Behind him, there was an impressive procession of plenipotentiaries in black jackets"8.
The table was covered with a garnet cloth and was arranged in a horseshoe shape. Inside the table was the inkpot of Vergennes, the Foreign Minister of Louis XVI, serving for signing of the treaty between France and the U.S. represented by Benjamin Franklin, as well as the golden pen offered by the city of La Havre to Kellogg. Briand opened the meeting and read out the only speech that was delivered. At the beginning, the French Minister referred to the importance of the pact, which was, he said, "once in the human history."
Briand made a harsh indictment of war, adding: "The peace proclaimed is good, very good. But it should be organized. The solutions of force should be substituted by legal solutions. This is the work of tomorrow"9.
The treaty has a preamble and three articles and remains in history as the Pact of Paris or the Kellogg-Briand Pact, stipulating that that:
The President of the German Reich, the President of the United States of America, His Majesty - the King of Belgium, the President of the French Republic, His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Overseas Territories and Emperor of India, His Majesty - the King of Poland, the President of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind;
Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy should be made to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated;
Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory Power which shall hereafter seek to promote its national interests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished by this Treaty;
Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavor and by adhering to the present Treaty as soon as it comes into force bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;
Have decided to conclude a treaty and for that purpose have appointed as their respective plenipotentiaries (following their names) who, who, having communicated to one another their full powers found in good and due form have agreed upon the following articles:
The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
The present Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties named in the Preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at Washington.
This Treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a Power shall be deposited at Washington and the Treaty shall immediately upon such deposit become effective as; between the Power thus adhering and the other Powers parties hereto.
It shall be the duty of the Government of the United States to furnish each Government named in the Preamble and every Government subsequently adhering to this Treaty with a certified copy of the Treaty and of every instrument of ratification or adherence. It shall also be the duty of the Government of the United States telegraphically to notify such Governments immediately upon the deposit with it of each instrument of ratification or adherence.
The respective plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty in the French and English languages both texts having equal force, and hereunto affix their seals. Done at Paris, August 27th, 1928. The pact was finally signed by:
I. States related to the stipulations of Pact of Paris,
a) Member states of the League of Nations: South Africa, Albania, Germany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Spain, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, the Netherlands, Peru, Persia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Siam, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Venezuela , Yugoslavia. Total 48.
b) Non-member states the League of Nations: Afghanistan, Costa Rica, Free City of Danzig, Egypt, USA, Iceland, Mexico, Turkey, USSR. Total 9.
II. States not-related to the stipulations of Pact of Paris
a) Member states of the League of Nations: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Salvador, Uruguay
b) Non-member states the League of Nations: Brazil10.
Lucid analysts of the treaty limits spoke critically about Kellogg's electoral capital, economic interests of the United States, since investing huge amounts in various parts of the world, had the interest in not disturbing the peace, maintaining "Monroe Doctrine" as cornerstone foreign policy of Washington's and London. The most important gap in the Pact of Paris was the fact that it contained no provision for punishment of the aggressor, of those countries that violate the Treaty articles. Despite the solemn commitment to renounce the war, there were three cases in which war could be possible: self-defense, violation of the treaty by one of the parties in conflict and insufficient authority of the provisions relating to penalties.
The signing of Briand - Kellogg Pact must be ratified by the signatory countries. Article III of the Compact stated that the treaty will enter into force once all ratification instruments were to be submitted to Washington. At December 29th, 1928, the Commissioner for External Affairs of the people of the USSR government, Maksim Litvinov, handed to the Polish Ambassador in Moscow, Patek, a note of the Soviet government proposing the implementation of the Pact of Paris before the ratification of the document by the two parliaments. In this protocol, known in history as the Moscow Protocol, several states joined.
The Assembly of the League of Nations adopted on September 24th, 1929, a resolution tending to review the Pact of this organization for putting it in line with the Pact of Paris. Quite fast, the Pact has proven to be a simple sheet of paper for the revisionist states. In 1931, Japan attacked and conquered Manchuria, a province located in northeastern China, and three other Chinese regions.
In early October 1935, the Italians occupied Ethiopia. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia. The war against Poland represents the starting point of the Second World War. On September 17th, 1939, the Soviet Union also had broken the Briand-Kellogg Pact. The Red Army, according to a secret additional protocol concluded with Germany, crossed the Polish border for "ensuring the security of Ukrainian and Belarusian brothers." The violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact continued. On November 30th, 1939, the Soviets attacked Finland and, after a hard war, obtained the Karelian Isthmus and East Karelia according to the Peace of 12 March 1940.
The year 1940 is the year when the Briand-Kellogg Pact will be abolished in practical terms. USSR annexed the Baltic States, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, while Germany started raging at conquering Europe, and Italy tried to do the same in Greece. Kellogg-Briand Pact was dead, killed by its own weaknesses. The failure to be equipped with the tools necessary for the defense of peace made the pact to be extremely sensitive to manifestations of power in countries that do not accept the system of Versailles. Briand-Kellogg Pact, proclaiming general principles, without any legal, political, material support, could not be an effective instrument for consolidating peace. The revisionist states found that the doors for achieving their own interests were not closed. They had nothing against signing the Kellogg-Briand Pact, this fact representing a moral gesture that meant nothing in a world with very harsh realities.
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