By Joe White
How many times have I, or we, at A Year Without War heard, “A year without war. Great idea! But you might check human history to see the last time we tried that?” Well, humanity, as far as we can tell has never attempted to deliberately bring a cessation of war globally for one specific year. However, humanity did successfully, after a decade of hard work, manage to outlaw war as we have outlawed genocide, rape, witch burning, slavery and other horrific acts. On August 27, 1928 the Kellogg-Briand Pact was passed, signed and ratified by a dozen countries. More than 50 of the world’s leading powers at the time had ratified the Pact within the year.
Excluding formalities and procedural matters, the Kellogg-Briand Pact reads,
The High Contracting Parties solemly (sic) declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
The High contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
Even Andrew Carnegie attempted to “hasten the abolition of international war, the foulest blot upon our civilization.“
The Kellogg-Briand Pact remains a law in the United States as well as in all of the other signatory states. No state has rescinded it. Aspects of Kellogg-Briand were used during the Nuremburg Trials against Nazis. Its tenets were later softened by the U.N. Charter. Nonetheless, our grandparents were quite sickened by the Great War, The War to End All Wars, the First World War, WW I, call it what you may. While we at A Year Without War are working diligently for 2020 to be a year without war globally, our grandparents managed to rally the international community to outlaw war. That is surely a much more daunting achievement. They also thought it would take generations to succeed in this task. So here we are, another generation picking up their banner. Their movement, the Outlawry Movement, will be a focus of AYWW in the coming years. AYWW is working to make August 27 the international day of celebration for Outlawry. JOIN AYWW to help create an international Outlawry Day through the United Nations by 2015.
Robert Ferrell wrote in his book, Peace in Their Time: Origins of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, that during the 1920’s “Peace echoed through so many sermons, speeches, and state papers that it drove itself into the consciousness of everyone. Never in world history was peace so great a desideratum, so much talked about, looked toward, and planned for, as in the decade after the 1918 Armistice.”
Now it’s our historical mandate. Let’s do for one year what our grandparents attempted to do for all posterity. For a fascinating historical description of the road to the Kellogg-BriandPact see David Swanson’s When The World Outlawed War.
(an interview with Swanson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7kpzT8Sr5E