Kellogg-Briand Pact, originally signed on August 27th, 1928, was an effort by a combination of nations to effectively eliminate war. More properly known as the Pact of Paris, the Pact denounced war as an instrument of national policy, and stated that conflicts should be resolved through pacific means only. The Pact was one of several attempts following World War I to ensure everlasting peace for all nations and was, in theory, a solid effort to entice nations to find peaceful solutions to problems. However, in practice, the Pact was no more than an empty promise to eliminate war.
This paper discusses the origins of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and will discuss the reasons for its signing by those nations primarily responsible for its inception. Additionally, this paper will discuss the conflicts since the signing of the Pact, and will show how countries easily avoided repercussions for violating the Pact. Further, this paper will show that, although the Pact did have some effect on later documents and treaties, the Pact in and of its self was non-effective at reducing conflicts.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact its self originated through a suggestion by the French Foreign Minister, Aristide Briand, but the true foundation for the treaty lay with the people of the signing nations. Following the immense fighting of World War I, Europe and the United States craved a world of peace. By 1929, any treaty designed to create peace among the nations was to be seriously considered. The World Court, the Geneva Protocol of 1924, and the Locarno treaties all showed the new-found interest in the world for peace (Ferrell, 105).
For the United States, the urge for peace was even more pronounced by the lack of participation in the League of Nations. Since the League of Nations was one of the few organizations designed to promote peace, the people of the United States began to pressure the government to establish a comparative solution. When the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand suggested a mutual treaty of peace, the American Committee for the Outlawry of War and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, both of whom were large, influential groups in the United States, helped to ensure the signing of the agreement (Ferrell, 106).
On April 6th, 1927, Briand proposed a contract that would effectively outlaw war between France and the United States. In the midst of the peace movement, then U.S. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg suggested that the proposal grow even more. Kellogg suggested a multilateral treaty that all nations could sign, which would "renounce war as an instrument of national policy" (Ferrell, 106). While this idea was a positive one, there were issues that needed to be discussed among the signing nations, since many were already involved in other peace treaties with their own neighboring nations (Ferrell, 107).
On August 27, 1928, the Pact of Paris, or the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed by 11 nations, including representatives from Germany, the United States, Great Britian, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Italy, and Czechoslovakia. By the time the Pact was proclaimed on July 24, 1929, four more countries had signed including Japan, France, Belgium, and Poland. In the end, over 60 nations had signed the Pact, including China, Russia, Spain, Egypt, Cuba, and Finland, among others ("Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928," 2343).
It is important to note that if the original concept of Briand's Pact been maintained, and had the Pact been upheld by all signing nations, war would have virtually been removed from the world (Borchard, 243). The original treaty called for a condemnation of war as a solution to international controversy, and the renouncement of war as an instrument of national policy. Additionally, the treaty bound all parties to finding a pacific solution to all disputed or conflicts for an unlimited amount of time (Committee on Foreign Relations, 3).
However, in the notes from those countries which signed the Pact, there were many admitted exceptions to the treaty. These exceptions were at least part of the reason the Pact was largely unsuccessful in later years. First, England noted that the phrase "renunciation of war" was acceptable, so long as it was understood that there were certain areas of the world which constituted a "special and vital interest," and that those areas would continue to be protected (Committee on Foreign Relations, 4). Thus, England introduced the concept of war in self-defense of interests.
Additionally, Great Britain and France both noted that the Locarno treaties would also need to be protected, since those agreements with other European nations were in existence prior to the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Thus, both countries signed the Pact with the understanding that they would still be allowed to continue their obligations under the Locarno treaty, which included coming to the aid of any nation who signed the Locarno treaty, if such a nation were attacked. All parties agreed, stating that if one party violated the treaty, all parties were released from their obligations. Thus, by violating one treaty, the offender would be violating the other, which would free the participants from their obligations under the Kellogg-Briand Pact (Committee on Foreign Relations, 4).
Still further, the negotiations included the concept that all countries were free to decide their own interpretation of what "self-defense" meant in terms of declaring an act of war. With no actual definition of "self-defense," or of "aggravated war," it was impossible to outlaw any form of war. In reality, the treaty appeared to simply outline those cases in which was would be an acceptable means to resolve a situation. This lack of any true definitions made the entire point of the treaty, that of the outlawry of war, an impossibility. Rather than defining all war as acts of aggression, the treaty created an almost legal type of war (Borchard, 243).
The Kellogg-Briand Pact, while influential in later treaties and foreign policy, was largely unsuccessful in renouncing war. Instead, the Pact simply encouraged those countries waging war to collectively call it something else, such as a policing action, or self-defense. Since the Pact did not define any sanctions for breaking the treaty, even those countries that breached the agreement were largely free from any form of sanction or punishment by the other signing nations (Borchard, 244).
The Pact can claim one single success in avoiding war as a solution to a political issue. In 1929 the U.S.S.R., who had long been occupants of the area in Northern China known as Manchuria, became involved in a dispute with China over the Chinese Eastern Railway which crossed Manchuria. Skirmishes erupted and in response, then U.S. Secretary of State Stimson wrote to both the U.S.S.R. And China, reminding them of their duties under the Kellogg-Briand Pact. He appealed to them to stop the fighting, and come to a peaceful resolution, as laid out in the Pact (Stimson, 982).
The USSR and China eventually did come to a peaceful resolution. However, the ordeal made it apparent how weak the Pact was in the face of real political tensions. In a later Memorandum to the State, Stimson noted his experiences had shown him that upholding the Kellogg-Briand Pact was nearly impossible. There was no machinery for investigating any suspected breach of the Pact, and no punishment for those breaches. No sanctions were expected, and thus, there was no way to enlighten any other members of the Pact about any given situation (Stimson, 983).
Aside from this single episode, there are many others since the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact that point to its obvious failures. Even the single success in Manchuria was soon overshadowed by the Japanese invasion of the area in 1931. Following the invasion, Japan cited self-defense, stating that they had "no territorial ambitions" other than Manchuria. However, the United States' Minister to Japan, the Secretary of State for the United States, the League of Nations, the British Government, and the Lytton Commission, appointed to investigate the Manchurian invasion, all noted that the invasion could only be considered as an "aggressive" act that violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact. All parties noted that, in light of the Pact, they could not recognize the government set up by Japan in the area, since the events leading to that government violated the treaty. However, because the Pact did not stipulate any definition of self-defense, nor provide any means of punishment for breach of the Pact, the nations were powerless to take action. Japan continued to invade, and advanced into the province of Jehol in Northern China in 1933, again violating the Pact (U.S. Dept of State, 6).
Not long after, in 1936, Italy violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact by invading Ethiopia. At the time, Premiere Mussolini cited the invasion as a "self-defense of interests," allowable under the Pact. In addition, Mussolini did not declare war, but instead called the incident a "policing action." According to the Italian press, Japan had increased its economic, political, and military intrusions on the Italian markets in not only Italy, but also the Mediterranean areas. In…