Efforts Toward Disarmament

April 8, 1929

Report Outline
Draft Convention for Limitation of Armaments
Preparations for Disarmament. 1919–29

The Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference, established by the Council of the League of Nations in December, 1925, will hold its sixth plenary session at Geneva beginning April 15, 1929. No meeting of this body has been held since March, 1928, but-in spite of the lapse of more than a year-there is a widespread belief that the forthcoming session may prove premature.

The task of the Preparatory. Commission, as its full title indicates, is to prepare the way for that general conference of all the naval and military powers which the League of Nations has been endeavoring since its inception to bring about. The technical preliminaries have already been worked over in almost superfluous detail, The technical perfection of the preparation, however, can lead to no great accomplishment unless there is corresponding progress on the political side of the disarmament problem. There is as yet no assurance that in the governments of the great powers there exists “the will to disarm”-in the absence of which there can be little hope of success for a general disarmament conference.

Factors Favorable and Unfavorable to Progress

At the same time, there are numerous forces at work which have combined to compel the summoning of the sixth session of the Preparatory Commission, and which make it probable that some constructive action will result. Among these forces may be mentioned the pacifist movement, which has developed varying degrees of strength in all of the countries that maintain large military establishments. This, combined with the opposition to heavy military expenditures among the taxpayers of debt-burdened nations, is steadily tending to force governments to adopt a more favorable attitude toward disarmament, The smaller European nations have been growing more insistent during recent years in their demands for tangible progress. Their campaign has been strongly reinforced by the entry of Germany into the League, for that country has now come to head the “disarmament bloc” in both the Assembly and the Council. Germany has as an important legal talking point the preamble to Part V of the Treaty of Versailles, which made her compulsory disarmament a condition precedent to the voluntary furtherance of the process by the former Allied nations. That part of the peace treaty said;

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