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peace congresses

The Period of the World Wars

By 1914 the court (see Hague Tribunal) had successfully arbitrated 14 international disputes, but the outbreak of World War I disrupted the activities of all peace congresses, and it was not until 1919 that they were able to resume their work. It took another two years before the peace proposals of the 19th cent., incorporated in the Treaty of Versailles, bore fruit in the creation of two international organizations, the League of Nations at Geneva and the Permanent Court of International Justice (see World Court) at The Hague.

After 1919 the chief international peace congresses were the annual meetings at Brussels of the International Federation of League of Nations Societies, which concerned themselves increasingly with disarmament. Throughout the 1920s peace congresses concentrated on urging countries to reduce their armed forces, and they influenced the holding of naval conferences at Washington, D.C. (1921–22) and London (1930). A series of bilateral and multilateral disarmament conferences finally led to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed (1928) by 15 nations, which renounced war as an instrument of national policy. However, within three years Japan (a signatory to the pact) launched its undeclared war against Manchuria, and in 1935, Italy (another signatory) invaded Ethiopia; this was followed shortly by Germany's invasion (1939) of Poland and World War II.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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