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“Absolutely Irresponsible Amateurs”: The temporary mixed commission on armaments, 1921-1924

Webster, A.ORCID: 0000-0002-9727-9516 (2008) “Absolutely Irresponsible Amateurs”: The temporary mixed commission on armaments, 1921-1924. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 54 (3). pp. 373-388.

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Created in early 1921, the Temporary Mixed Commission on Armaments was a committee of eminent figures formed by the League of Nations to consider the problem of international disarmament in its widest aspects and to suggest potential initiatives, plans and solutions. What made it unique was that its members were specifically appointed as private individuals, unrestrained by formal instructions from governments. They were intended to be free to put forward ideas and opinions that seemed most likely to produce real progress but which might have created political turmoil if they had come from official representatives. To some contemporary observers this extraordinary degree of independence was tremendously appealing; to others, the lack of accountability on an issue of supreme importance to the national security of member states was desperately objectionable. In practice, much of the commission's work resolved into a battle between interventionist British members and resistant French members, led respectively by Lord Robert Cecil and Colonel Edouard Réquin, with its most prominent outcome being the failed 1923 draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance. A fascinating experiment in the possibilities of transnationalism within an international organization, the Temporary Mixed Commission on Armaments both exemplified the fluidity of the League of Nations in its early years and showed the limited results a transnational approach could achieve on as contentious an issue as disarmament.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Copyright: 2008 The Author
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