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The League of Nations and international disarmament, 1925-1932

Webster, A.ORCID: 0000-0002-9727-9516 (2015) The League of Nations and international disarmament, 1925-1932. In: Symposium. League of Nations: Histories, Legacies and Impact, 10 - 11 December 2015, University of Melbourne. Faculty of Arts

Abstract

In September 1925, the Assembly of the League of Nations called for the summoning of a global Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments in order at last to put into practice the great hopes for world disarmament that had emerged from the cataclysm of the Great War. When the conference’s Preparatory Commission set to work early in 1926, it was amidst widespread expectations that it would complete its task within a matter of months and that the great world disarmament conference to follow would itself meet in 1927 to ratify a final disarmament treaty. But a snail’s pace of progress defeated all such hopes: the commission only produced its draft treaty in December 1930 and the conference itself did not open until February 1932. The combined membership of the many organizations that made presentations at the conference’s opening public session was some 200 million people, approximately 10% of the world population at the time. Despite the central importance accorded to disarmament as a test of the worth of the new League of Nations, and indeed for many a shorthand expression for a guarantee of lasting peace, there has never been a comprehensive historical treatment of the work of the League on disarmament. This paper draws upon extensive research in the archives of the League of Nations, Britain, France, the United States, Australia and Canada and is part of a larger project on the history of the international disarmament process between 1899 and 1945. It will examine why the path towards agreement over international disarmament went so far awry during the later 1920s, despite the favourable diplomatic atmosphere of the so-called ‘Locarno era’. In particular, it focuses upon the work of the Preparatory Commission for the world disarmament conference, a site of competing nationalist, internationalist and transnationalist agendas.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
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URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/55186
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