Kellogg-Briand Pact

views updated May 14 2018



The Kellogg-Briand Pact marked the high point of the League of Nations and common security between the two world wars. Proposed by the head of the U.S. State Department, Frank B. Kellogg, at the initiative of the French foreign affairs minister, Aristide Briand, this pact was signed in Paris on 27 August 1928 by fifteen countries. This was a declaration of the common renunciation of war, placing it "outside the law."

In 1927–1928 belief in common security was at its height. Economic conditions were satisfactory, and world public opinion believed in a lasting peace. The idea of incorporating in the common security system the two major powers that were not members of the League of Nations, the United States and the USSR, gained increasingly wide support. In France, Aristide Briand persevered with his policy of rapprochement with Germany. In fact, a few days after Germany was admitted to the League of Nations in September 1926, Aristide Briand met Gustav Stresemann, the German foreign affairs minister, in Thoiry. At this meeting, the two men reached agreement on the need to resolve the differences between their two countries. This project entailed some major political concessions for France: evacuation of the Rhineland, occupied since 1923; abolition of military control and restoration of the Saar region. In return, Stresemann accepted the principle of a capital payment to France from the interest on industrial and railway stock as reparations. While this proposal was well received in Berlin, it was rejected by the French president of the council, Raymond Poincaré. There was also a hostile reaction in parliamentary circles in Paris.

Confronted with this deadlock, from 1927 Briand turned his attention to the development of common security. In April 1927, on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. entry into the First World War, he addressed a communication to the American people, suggesting a joint Franco-American commitment to abjure war as a political method. This proposal emerged in a context in which Franco-American relations were strained by the question of war debts. In April 1926 an agreement had been signed between the two states to establish a reimbursement plan for French debts in sixty-two annuities (the Mellon-Béranger Agreement of 29 April 1926). One year later, France had still not ratified this agreement. Aristide Briand hoped that his proposal would bring the two states closer together.

Under the influence of Nicholas M. Butler (president of Columbia University), Senator William Borah (president of the Senate's foreign affairs committee), and the pacifist S. O. Levinson, Frank Kellogg—in his response to the Briand proposal on 27 December 1927—modified the project by transforming it into a multilateral pact to abjure war that would include all the states of the world. This new project far surpassed Briand's original intentions and led to discussions lasting several months. Some important questions then arose for the negotiators: would such a pact be compatible with the League of Nations pact that made provision for a member state having to take military sanctions against another in the event of an attack? Was it possible to agree to the American request for a reference to the right of peoples to legitimate defense? In the intervening period, on 6 February 1928, the anniversary of the first treaty of friendship concluded between the two states, France and the United States renewed their convention of arbitration for twenty years. It was finally in April 1928, after wide consultation with Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan, that Frank Kellogg's proposal was accepted by France. The treaty stated in Article 1 that: "The high contracting parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and abjure it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another." Article 2 was formulated as follows: "The high contracting parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of what ever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means."

Accordingly, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed in Paris in August 1928 in an atmosphere of enthusiasm. The American president Calvin Coolidge telegraphed from Washington to say that "Briand's idea is as great as the world." Briand, who suggested dedicating the treaty to all the dead of the First World War, described this as a new date in the history of humanity. On 27 August 1928 the American government invited forty-nine states to sign the treaty. Fifty-nine states, including the USSR, finally subscribed to this. Nine of these were not then members of the League of Nations. A general mood of euphoria prevailed, despite the fact that this agreement was very general and only issued a moral condemnation of war, without envisaging either sanctions or any framework for specific action in the event of an act of aggression. It is true that international events in the following years showed that this agreement had had a huge symbolic impact but no practical effect other than reopening the Franco-German dialogue (evacuation of the Rhineland and establishment of the Young Plan). The criticism to which it has been open should not, however, be allowed to overshadow the innovative nature of the process in terms of both challenging the right to war and constructing a peaceful international society. In fact, until 1914 international law imposed no restriction on the use of force. In 1919 the League of Nations pact established a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate wars. In 1945 the UN Charter provided for the obligation to resolve conflicts by peaceful means (Article 33). The Kellogg-Briand Pact thus emerges as an intermediate stage in the development of the law relating to war in international relations. Furthermore, both Frank B. Kellogg in 1929 and Nicholas M. Butler in 1931 received the Nobel Peace Prize for their roles in the signing and promotion of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

See alsoBriand, Aristide; League of Nations; Reparations; Rhineland Occupation; Versailles, Treaty of; World War I .


Primary Sources

Butler, Nicholas M. The Path to Peace: Essays and Addresses on Peace and Its Making. New York, 1930.

Lysen, Arnoldus. Le Pacte Kellogg: Documents concernant le traité multilatéral contre la guerre, signéà Paris le 27 août 1928, recueillis avec une préface, un tableau synoptique des projets américains et français, et une bibliographie. Leiden, 1928.

Myers, Denys P. Origin and Conclusion of the Paris Pact, and The Renunciation of War by Kirby Page. 1929. Reprint, with a new introduction by Charles DeBenedetti. New York, 1972.

Wehberg, Hans W. The Outlawry of War: A Series of Lectures Delivered before the Academy of International Law at the Hague and in the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales at Geneva. Washington, D.C., 1931.

Secondary Sources

Brownliei, Ian. International Law and the Use of Force by States. Oxford, U.K., 1963.

Buchheit, Eva. Der Briand-Kellogg-Pact von 1928: Machtpolitik oder Friedensstreben? Münster, 1998.

Elisha, Achille. Aristide Briand: la paix mondiale et l'Union Européenne. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2000.

Ferrell, Robert H. Peace in Their Time: The Origins of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. New Haven, Conn., 1952. New edition 1968.

Ferrell, Robert H., ed. The American Secretaries of States and Their Diplomacy. Vol. 11. 1963.

Dzovinar Kevonian

Kellogg-Briand Pact

views updated May 14 2018


The Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as the Pact of Paris, was a treaty that attempted to outlaw war (46 Stat. 2343, T.S. No. 796, 94 L.N.T.S. 57). The treaty was drafted by France and the United States, and on August 27, 1928, was signed by fifteen nations. By 1933 sixty-five nations had pledged to observe its provisions.

Kellogg-Briand contained no sanctions against countries that might breach its provisions. Instead, the treaty was based on the hope that diplomacy and the weight of world opinion would be powerful enough to prevent nations from resorting to the use of force. This soon proved to be a false hope; though Germany, Italy, and Japan were all signatories, the treaty did not prevent them from committing aggressions that led to world war ii.

The origin of the Kellogg-Briand Pact was a message that the French foreign minister, Aristide Briand, addressed to the citizens of the United States on April 6, 1927, the tenth anniversary of the United States' entrance into world war i. In this message Briand announced France's willingness to join the United States in an agreement mutually outlawing war. Such an agreement, Briand stated, would "greatly contribute in the eyes of the world to enlarge and fortify the foundation on which the international policy of peace is being erected." Briand's overture to the United States was part of a larger campaign that France was waging to form strategic alliances that would improve its national security. In addition, Briand was influenced by recent conversations with Nicholas Murray Butler and James Thomson Shotwell, U.S. academics who were leaders in the burgeoning U.S. political movement to outlaw war, also known as the outlawry movement.

Initially, Briand's offer generated little reaction in the United States. The U.S. state department made no response, apparently considering Briand's statement to be simply an expression of friendship. Not until certain leaders in the peace movement, notably Butler, began to generate widespread public support for Briand's proposal did the government become involved. But by the middle of June 1927, France and the United States had begun diplomatic conversations aimed at reaching the sort of agreement Briand had proposed in his address.

On June 20 the State Department received the Draft Pact of Perpetual Friendship between France and the United States, written by Briand and transmitted through the U.S. ambassador in Paris. The draft contained just two articles: the first declared that France and the United States renounced war "as an instrument of their national policy towards each other," and the second declared that all conflicts between the two nations would be settled only by "pacific means." Secretary of State frank b. kellogg and other officials in the U.S. State Department were uncomfortable about entering into such an agreement with France alone, fearing that it would amount to an indirect alliance that would deprive the United States of the freedom to act if France were to go to war with another country. Instead, U.S. officials preferred to expand the agreement into a multilateral treaty involving all the world powers except Russia. On December 28, therefore, Kellogg told Briand that the United States was prepared to enter into negotiations with France to construct a treaty that would condemn war and renounce it as an instrument of national policy; when concluded, the treaty would be open to signature by all nations.

France accepted the United States' offer, and treaty negotiations began in January 1928. By early April the four other Great Powers—Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan—were invited to enter the discussions. Soon after, the invitation was extended to Belgium; Czechoslovakia; Poland; India; and the five British dominions, Australia, Canada, Irish Free State, New Zealand, and South Africa. Several of the parties wanted specific conditions and reservations included in the treaty. These issues were resolved, and on August 27, 1928, diplomats from the fifteen countries met in Paris to sign the treaty. By 1933 fifty additional countries had agreed to observe the treaty's provisions.

The final text of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, like the original draft, was extremely simple and contained just two principal articles. The first stated that the contracting parties "condemn[ed] recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce[d] it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another." In the second the parties agreed that "the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise between them, shall never be sought except by pacific means." The treaty therefore outlawed war entirely, providing no exceptions to this general prohibition. The parties, however, generally recognized that war would be permissible in the case of self-defense; several signatories, including the United States, had submitted diplomatic notes prior to the treaty's ratification indicating their understanding that wars entered into in self-defense would be lawful.

When it was signed, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was considered a tremendous milestone in the effort to advance the cause of international peace. In 1929 Kellogg received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the treaty. Events soon showed, however, that the pact did not prevent or limit war between the nations. The primary problem was that the treaty provided for no means of enforcement or sanctions against parties who violated its provisions. In addition, it did not address the issues of what constituted self-defense and when self-defense could lawfully be claimed. Because of these large loopholes, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was ultimately an ineffective method for achieving the ambitious and idealistic goal of outlawing war.

further readings

Arend, Anthony C., and Robert J. Beck. 1993. International Law and the Use of Force. London: Routledge.

Ferrell, Robert H. 1952. Peace in Their Time. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press.

Lunardini, Christine A. 1994. The American Peace Movement in the Twentieth Century. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO.

Miller, David H. 1928. The Peace Pact of Paris. New York: Putnam.

Pauling, Linus, ed. 1986. World Encyclopedia of Peace. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Kellogg-Briand Pact

views updated May 23 2018


The Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as the Pact of Paris, was the creation of French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand and U.S. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg in 1928. Parties to this treaty pledged themselves to "renounce the resort to war as an instrument of national policy in their mutual relations" and to resolve all international disputes by "peaceful means alone." This agreement was signed in Paris on August 27, 1928, by France, the United States, and thirteen other powers. Soon it was endorsed by almost every country in the world, including the Soviet Union, Britain, Germany, and Japan. The treaty contained no enforcement mechanism and was, therefore, merely a pious promise to avoid war.

Soviet ratification of the pact on August 29, 1928, was part of a "peace offensive" spearheaded by Deputy Commissar of Foreign Affairs Maxim M. Litvinov. Beyond attempts to improve bilateral relations with the great powers and Russia's smaller neighbors, this campaign included efforts to promote broad measures of disarmament and to involve the USSR in the multilateral diplomacy of Europe. The pact was also supplemented by the Litvinov Protocol, signed on February 9, 1929, by the USSR, Poland, Rumania, and Latvia (and subsequently by Lithuania, Iran, and Turkey), pledging the peaceful resolution of all disputes among the signatories. Soviet participation in the pact and the protocol represented a victory for Litvinov's policy of constructive engagement with the dominant Western powers and a defeat for his nominal chief, Foreign Commissar Georgy Chicherin. It also marked a temporary victory for Nikolai Bukharin and other moderate Politburo members who supported the New Economic Policy and advocated security through peace and cooperation with the great powers.

See also: bukharin, nikolai ivanovich; litvinov, maxim maximovich; new economic policy


Ferrell, Robert H. (1952). Peace in Their Time: The Origins of the Kellogg-Brian Pact. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Jacobson, Jon. (1994). When the Soviet Union Entered World Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Teddy J. Uldricks

Kellogg-Briand Pact

views updated May 29 2018

Kellogg-Briand Pact

Prior to World War I (1914–18), the United States and France were allies (joined forces). That changed after the war for a number of reasons, including the fact that the United States continued to try to collect the full amount of war debt incurred by France.

France's foreign minister, Aristide Briand (1862–1932), tried to repair his country's relationship with the United States. Toward this effort, Briand wrote an open letter to the American public suggesting that the two countries sign a treaty agreeing to outlaw war between them.

Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933; served 1923–29) was president of the United States at the time, and he did not like the idea of another country trying to force him into a response where diplomatic issues were concerned. He gave Briand no response. However, a few weeks later, Columbia University president Nicholas Murray Butler (1862–1947), sent his own, similar letter to Coolidge, which the New York Times published. Media across the nation began a campaign to outlaw war.

The American public liked the idea of not using war to solve conflicts. Petitions were circulated, and their more than two million signatures increased the pressure on the government. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg (1856–1937) agreed that a pact would have its advantages, but he wanted to include many nations in the treaty.

Signed in August 1928 by fifteen nations, the Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawed war as an instrument of national policy. More than sixty nations joined the treaty in the months following its passage. The pact had its shortcomings. The term “war” was generally interpreted to mean that the countries could not wage war; each believed it could still defend itself if attacked. The treaty contained no expiration date, nor did it include a provision for amending the agreement at any point in time.

The pact had its share of skeptics, who believed it was too idealistic to be of any real use. They turned out to be correct when World War II (1939–45) broke out. Though intentions of the treaty were good, the Kellogg-Briand Pact actually may have been harmful because officials sometimes delayed taking action against aggressors in hopes the terms of the treaty would be honored.

Kellogg-Briand Pact

views updated May 14 2018


KELLOGG-BRIAND PACT (also called the Pact of Paris), signed 27 August 1928 by 15 nations, reflected the movement to outlaw war to prevent a recurrence of the carnage of World War I. French foreign minister Aristide Briand initially proposed a bilateral treaty renouncing war as a method of settling disputes between France and the United States and drawing the United States into its defensive system against Germany. U.S. support for the pact came from both ends of the political spectrum. Interventionists thought it would lead to U.S. acceptance of the League of Nations; isolationists and peace groups hoped it would end war. Charles Lindbergh's successful solo crossing of the Atlantic and subsequent landing in Paris in May 1927 also helped boost Briand's efforts. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, fearful that signing the treaty could drag the United States into a European war on the side of France, expanded the proposed agreement to a multilateral treaty renouncing war. Briand had no choice but to accept the pact, which was moral in tone but lacked force and did not bind America to any European treaty system. Subsequently, when Japan seized Manchuria in 1931, when Italy took over Ethiopia in 1935, and later when Germany began its expansion in the late 1930s, the Pact was exposed as the toothless treaty it had been all along.


Ferrell, Robert H. Peace in Their Time: The Origins of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1952.

Charles M.Dobbs

Kellogg-Briand Pact

views updated Jun 11 2018

Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) International peace agreement negotiated by US secretary of state, Frank B. Kellogg, and French foreign minister, Aristide Briand. It renounced war as a means of settling international disputes and was subsequently signed by most of the world's governments.

About this article

Kellogg-Briand Pact

All Sources -
Updated Aug 13 2018 About content Print Topic