Great Britain and the Creation of the League of Nations: Strategy, Politics, and International Organization, 1914-1919

By George W. Egerton | Go to book overview

6

War No More:
Drafting the Covenant

When the leading delegates of the victorious great powers assembled in Paris during the second week of January 1919 for what was termed the preliminary peace conference, the first major issue to be resolved involved agreement on procedures and agenda. The leaders all knew that there was a vital link between procedure and substance, and each delegation maneuvered to establish tactical positions and an agenda that would facilitate the realization of its major objectives. The French government put forward an elaborate agenda for the conference that dealt first with the immediate issues of the war, where France's vital interests were concerned, then turned to the organization of a society of nations, and finally considered the more remote territorial, political, and other general international questions. 1 Wilson opposed this scheme, and, with the American Peace Commission, outlined a procedure that put the league question first on the agenda, followed by reparations, new states, territorial changes, and colonial possessions. 2 At the Council of Ten on 13 January, the British and Americans combined to side‐ track the French scheme. Lloyd George agreed with Wilson's proposal that the league be considered first, but generally argued that the agenda for discussion be prepared "from time to time." 3 On 22 January, then, the Council of Ten passed three resolutions on the league for presentation to a plenary session of the peace conference. These resolutions stipulated that to maintain the approaching world settlement a league of nations should be created "to promote

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