Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932-35

Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932-35

 

an international conference on the reduction and limitation of armaments. Convened under a decision of the Council of the League of Nations, the conference began work in Geneva on Feb. 2, 1932, after a long preparatory period, with 63 states participating, nine of which (the USSR, the USA, Afghani-stan, Brazil, Egypt, Costa Rica, Mexico, Turkey, and Ecuador) did not belong to the League of Nations.

The main imperialist powers attempted to use the conference to weaken their potential adversaries and increase their own military might. Seeking to preserve French military superiority over Germany, which had been secured by the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919, the French delegation advanced the Tardieu Plan, which provided for the creation under the aegis of the League of Nations of an international army in which France would play the leading role. The German delegation demanded “equality in armaments.” Failing to gain satisfaction, in October 1933 the fascist government that had taken power in Germany announced its refusal to participate in the work of the conference and Germany’s withdrawal from the League of Nations. Great Britain’s delegation focused its efforts on making sure that the disarmament measures adopted by the conference would not weaken the British imperial position and sea power. British aims were essentially met by the MacDonald Plan. Presented in March 1933, it provided maximum figures (based on no particular criteria) for the land forces of European countries and gave Great Britain and the USA great advantages in naval and air forces. (The MacDonald Plan was adopted on June 8, 1933, by the General Commission of the Geneva Disarmament Conference as the basis of a future disarmament convention.)

The only participant at the Geneva conference that consistently sought a solution to the problem of disarmament was the Soviet Union. On Feb. 18, 1932, the USSR proposed that the conference base its work on the principle of universal and total disarmament and submitted for consideration draft agreements on universal, total, and immediate disarmament and on the progressive, proportional reduction of armed forces. However, the Soviet Union’s proposals were not adopted. In February 1933 the Soviet delegation presented a draft declaration on a definition of aggression. Although the declaration was not adopted by the Geneva conference, the USSR concluded conventions on a definition of aggression with a number of states.

The position of the Western powers led the Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932-35 into a blind alley. The Soviet Union, attempting to make use of every opportunity to ease the arms race and relax international tension, proposed at the last session of the General Commission of the Geneva Disarmament Conference (May 29-June 11, 1934) that the conference be turned “into a permanent, periodically convening peace conference,” whose functions would include drawing up measures to safeguard the security of all states. However, this proposal was also rejected, and in 1935 the Geneva Dis-armament Conference ceased its work.

PUBLICATIONS

50 let bor’by SSSR za razoruzhenie, 1917-1967: Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow, 1967.
League of Nations: Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments: Conference Documents, vols. 1-3. Geneva, 1932-36.

D. ASANOV

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