International Relations and Diplomacy Content
THE KELLOGG BRIAND PACT
After the First World War, France did not regard the League of Nations as a guarantee of their security. They wanted to strengthen their defensive system by involving powers beyond Europe on their side. Aristide Briand, the foreign minister of France published an open letter to the US Government in April 1927 proposing a treaty for perpetual peace between France and the United States and also to draw the United States into French defensive system against Germany. The US also had reasons to accept the French proposal. At the end of World War I, U.S. Senate had failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles also established League of Nations. However, the League was not popular in the US because of the economic cost of operation, perceived unfairness of the Treaty of Versailles and unwillingness to get involved in European problems. The United States still came under pressure from its allies in Europe, and from advocates of the League of Nations, to sign some sort of international peace agreement. However, the US did not want to be dragged into a European war on the side of France. Hence, instead of a bilateral agreement between the two nations U.S. secretary of state, Frank Kellogg proposed a multilateral treaty. Kellogg also
wanted the treaty to specifically ban wars of aggression and not acts of self-defense.
The Kellogg – Briand Pact is formally known as ‘General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy’, or the ‘Pact of Paris’. The treaty is also known as ‘World Peace Act’. This treaty was an attempt to outlaw international war. It was named for the two men who created it, U.S. secretary of state Frank Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand. Fifteen nations signed the Kellogg‐Briand Pact in Paris on August 27, 1928: France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Italy, and Japan. The treaty set a date of July 24, 1929, to officially go into effect. By this date, more than 60 nations had signed the treaty. Eventually, it was ratified by 65
states, including Germany, Italy and Japan.
The treaty contained only three articles.
(i) The signatories renounced war as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
(ii) The contracting parties agreed that settlement of all conflicts, no matter of what origin or nature, that might arise among them should be sought only by pacific means.
(iii) The treaty would remain open for adherence by all the other Powers of the world as long as it may be necessary.
The treaty therefore outlawed war entirely, providing no exceptions to this general prohibition. The parties, however, generally recognized that war would be permissible in the following cases:
(i) for self‐defence
(ii) against any treaty‐breaking State
(iii) in order to carry out responsibilities under the League of Nations and the Locarno Agreements
Several signatories, including the United States, had submitted diplomatic notes prior to the treaty’s ratification indicating their understanding that wars entered into in self‐defense would be lawful. Its most notable feature was the fact that the U.S.A. was one of its signatories, thus recognizing once more its connection with and responsibility towards Europe.
Although the Kellogg‐Briand Pact did not stop warfare, it did establish an internationally accepted doctrine: Self‐defense is the only legal basis for war. The treaty also established the notion that the territorial acquisition resulting from the use of force are unlawful. The Pact was invoked with some success in the course of territorial dispute between China and the Soviet Union in 1929. The pact served as the legal basis for the creation of the notion of crime against peace ‐ it was for committing this crime that the Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced a number of people responsible for starting World War II. Since there was no expiration date for the treaty, it aimed at outlawing international war permanently. In 1929 Kellogg received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the treaty.
Negative Arguments regarding The Kellogg – Briand Pact
The parties to the Pact limited its enforcement by registering certain reservations. Britain agreed to sign the pact only as long as Britain could use force within its own colonies. The U.S. Senate insisted that there must be no curtailment of America’s right of self‐defense and that the United States was not compelled to take action against countries that broke the treaty. Kellogg‐Briand contained no sanctions against countries that might breach its provisions. Instead, the treaty was based on the hope that diplomacy and the weight of world opinion would be powerful enough to prevent nations from resorting to the use of force. Without the means to enforce its provisions, the Kellogg‐Briand Pact proved useless in preventing war.
Though Germany, Italy, and Japan were all parties, the treaty did not prevent them from committing aggressions that led to World War II within 14 years of the Treaty’s entry into force. In violation of the Kellogg‐Briand pact, Japan invaded Manchuria, a northern province of China in 1932, and Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. By 1936 Hitler sent soldiers to occupy the Rhineland, and by 1938 Germany had absorbed Austria. Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939 claiming to act in defense of ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia. In September 1939, the German army invaded Poland.
Though the Pact outlawed all wars, the Pact was interpreted by most of the signatories to permit “defensive” war. However, the treaty did not address the issues of what constituted self‐defense and when self‐defense could lawfully be claimed. It made each nation its own judge of what constitutes ‘self‐defense’. Because of these large loopholes, the Kellogg‐Briand Pact was ultimately an ineffective method for achieving the ambitious and idealistic goal of outlawing war.
Kellogg‐Briand Pact was the result of the search for alternative securities since the League of Nations could not create a feeling of security among the participating states. While this Pact helped the work of the League to maintain peace, some scholars argue that the initiation of the Pact by a few states undermined the League’s principle of security through unity and it created further barrier to the success of the League.
Though the parties to the Pact generally recognized that the war would be permissible to carry out the responsibilities under the League of Nations, in theory, the Pact’s provision of outlawing war in all cases conflicted with the provisions of the Covenant of the League to take military actions against the aggressor. The Pact made no attempts to define ‘aggression’ and the Pact did not contain any provisions of amendment to overcome its limitations.