The Briand Proposal and Arbitration

August 11, 1927

Report Outline
American Role in Development of Arbitration
Types of Treaties for Settlement of Disputes

The “outlawry of war” treaty proposed by Aristide Briand, the French Foreign Minister, on April 6, 1927, has drawn attention to the strides which have been made in international arbitration and conciliation since the war. M. Briand addressed his proposal through the press to the people of the United States on the tenth anniversary of America's entry into the war. He proposed that France and the United States should outlaw war by the conclusion of a perpetual peace pact between the two countries. This procedure has already been adopted by France with some of the smaller powers, but would mark a radical departure in the policy of the United States which has never yet been willing to enter into arbitration treaties which are not limited in character. This has been due to the attitude of the Senate which has consistently limited and amended all arbitration treaties sent to it for ratification. M. Briand's message was not widely commented upon at the time of its issuance but has been the subject of considerable publicity and discussion during recent weeks. Commencing with Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, prominent men in many parts of the country have endorsed it and criticized it in the press.

Drafts of Treaties to Outlaw War

Two model treaties aimed at outlawing war in the spirit of M. Briand's message were made public in New York at the end of May. The first of these treaties came from the American Peace Foundation, established by Edward W. Bok in 1923. The second was by Dr. James T. Shotwell, Professor of History at Columbia University and trustee and director of the Division of Economics and History of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Professor Joseph F. Chamberlain of Columbia University collaborated in the drawing up of this second treaty which aimed to combine the spirit of the Locarno treaties with that of the arbitratoin treaties already in force between France and the United States. This treaty was written after a conversation on the subject of the outlawry of war between M. Briand and Professor Shotwell at Geneva in March. A third model treaty was drawn up by Dr. Francis B. Sayre, son-in-law of Woodrow Wilson.

The wide circulation given these treaties created a new interest in the subject, which was further accentuated when it was reported from Paris that M. Briand had presented Ambassador Herrick with a note setting forth the opinion of the French Government as to how the compact should be framed. Up to this time the administration at Washington had expressed no definite opinions on the matter, confining itself to such statements as that there seemed no need for further arbitration treaties with France when two were already in force. It was officially announced on June 11, however, that Ambassador Herrick had been instructed to inform M. Briand of the entire willingness of the United States to take up his suggestions. Ambassador Herrick sailed from France on June 22 for a two months vacation. He came to Washington where he discussed the proposed treaty with Secretary Kellogg but it was generally understood that no further action would be taken until Ambassadors Claudel and Herrick had returned to their posts at the end of the summer.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
International Law and Agreements
Regional Political Affairs: Europe