Washington Treaties of 1907 and 1923

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Washington Treaties of 1907 and 1923

In 1907 and again in 1922–1923, Washington, D.C., was the site for a Central American international conference. On both occasions the prospect of escalating isthmian conflict prompted interested powers—the United States and Mexico in 1907 and the United States alone in 1922—to bring the Central American nations together in an effort to resolve their outstanding problems. Building on the institutional machinery developed at the 1906 Mar-blehead and San José conferences, the isthmian delegates at the 1907 Washington Conference produced a series of treaties and conventions designed to promote isthmian peace and stability. The 1907 treaties featured a permanent Central American Court of Justice with mandatory jurisdiction and a recognition policy—the Tobar Doctrine—that called for the non-recognition of Central American governments that came to power by revolutionary means. A subsequent dispute over the Central American Court's ruling on the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty led Nicaragua to denounce the treaties in 1917.

Uncertainty over the continuing status of the agreements and renewed international tension in Central America induced the United States to convene another Central American conference in December 1922. The resultant treaties included a more stringent de jure recognition policy, a Central American Tribunal with nonmandatory jurisdiction, and an arms limitation agreement. Dissatisfaction with the new recognition policy, however, led to the 1932 denunciation of the Washington Treaties by Costa Rica and El Salvador.

See alsoBryan-Chamorro Treaty (1914); Central America; Central American Court of Justice; Tobar Doctrine.


Dana G. Munro, Intervention and Dollar Diplomacy in the Caribbean, 1900–1921 (1964), esp. pp. 151-155, and The United States and the Caribbean Republics, 1921–1933 (1974), esp. pp. 123-126.

Richard V. Salisbury, "Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy: Costa Rica's Stand on Recognition, 1923–1934," in Hispanic American Historical Review 54, no. 3 (1974): 453-478.

Thomas M. Leonard, U.S. Policy and Arms Limitation in Central America: The Washington Conference of 1923 (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Salisbury, Richard V. Anti-Imperialism and International Competition in Central America, 1920–1929. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1989.

                                      Richard V. Salisbury

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Washington Treaties of 1907 and 1923

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Washington Treaties of 1907 and 1923