The Kellogg-Briand Pact was a multilateral treaty, which renounced aggressive war and prohibited the use of war as a national policy, unless it was for the purpose of self defense. Even though its formal name was the 'General Treaty for the Renunciation of War', this pact became famous as the 'Kellogg-Briand Pact' or the 'Pact of Paris'. It was signed on August 27, 1928, by various countries, including the United States of America, and was proclaimed to come into effect on July 24, 1929. The Pact was named after its authors, Frank B. Kellogg―the then U.S. Secretary of State, and Aristide Briand―the then foreign minister of France.
A Summary of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928
The anti-war feelings were at its all-time high post World War I, and most of the nations advocated the need of outlawing wars in order to avoid any such calamities in the future. At the same time, the relationship between the United States of America and France was going through a rough phase. In a bid to put things in place, the then foreign minister of France, Aristide Briand came up with a proposal of a treaty which would outlaw war between two countries. At this point of time, the United States administration, under the leadership of President Calvin Coolidge, was concerned about being stuck in some indirect alliance with France or other European nations. After showing some hesitation in going ahead with any sort of treaty, the U.S. Secretary of State, Frank B. Kellogg counter-proposed a multilateral treaty which would involve all the nations who intend to outlaw wars.
After initial hesitation about getting into a multilateral pact, the French government finally agreed. What had started off as a bilateral French-American accord, turned into a full-fledged multilateral treaty with 15 countries of the world signing it on August 27, 1928, at Paris. These 15 countries were Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, India, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Eventually, 62 countries signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact which outlawed wars and prohibited the use of war as a tool in national policy. By signing this pact, all these countries agreed that irrespective of what the origin or nature of conflict was, the sides involved had to come to a settlement by peaceful means; not a war.
Kellogg-Briand Pact Significance
The significance of this Pact is a subject of debate among historians. Even though 62 countries ratified it, its effectiveness was hampered by the fact that it had no provisions for sanctions on members who broke the treaty. As a result, it was never able to make a mark at the international level. A ray of hope was seen when the pact was invoked in the wake of a territorial dispute between China and the USSR in 1929. That, however, was short-lived, and the trend of waging undeclared wars in 1930s eventually resulted in the Pact losing whatever little importance it had in the world.
As we mentioned earlier, historians seem to be divided over the success of this pact, with most of the people calling it an outright failure. Whilst citing that the pact was a failure, its critics also highlight the fact that all the signatories of this pact were involved in the largest war the world had ever witnessed―the World War II, within 12 years of signing it.