Paris Peace Conference

The Paris Peace Conference (1919–20) was the first conference following World War I to establish an international settlement.

Despite the fact that a series of armistices between the Allies and their adversaries had formally ended hostilities—the Armistice of Salonika (Thessalonika) with Bulgaria on September 29, 1918, the Armistice of Mudros with Turkey on October 30, the Armistice of Villa Giusti with Austria-Hungary on November 3, and the Armistice of Rethondes with Germany on November 11—the conference did not begin until January 18, 1919. The British prime minister, David Lloyd George, wanted to have his mandate validated by a general election before engaging into discussions, which caused the delay.

The arrival of George

Following Lloyd George’s arrival in Paris on January 12, 1919, a preliminary meeting of the heads of state and foreign ministers of France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Italy—respectively, Georges Clemenceau and Stephen Pichon; Lloyd George and Arthur James Balfour; Woodrow Wilson (who fell ill at the conference, most likely due to the influenza pandemic of 1918–19) and Robert Lansing; and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando and Sidney Sonnino However, in March, the Supreme Council was reduced to a Council of Four, consisting solely of Western heads of government, because the chief Japanese plenipotentiary, Prince Saionji Kimmochi, refused to deal with matters of little relevance to Japan. The foreign ministers met again as a Council of Five to discuss minor issues.

Economic Council of the United Nations

The Supreme Economic Council, established in February 1919 to advise the conference on economic measures to be adopted while negotiating a peace, was also controlled by the five great nations. Specialized commissions were formed to look into specific issues such as the formation of a League of Nations and the drafting of its Covenant, determining responsibility for the war and ensuring that it would not be repeated, reparations, international labour legislation, international ports, waterways, and railroads, financial issues, permanent economic issues, aviation, naval and military matters, and territorial issues.

(1) the League of Nations Covenant, which was submitted in a first draught on February 14, 1919, and finally approved, in a revised version, on April 28, (2) the Treaty of Versailles, which was finally presented to a German delegation on May 7, 1919, and signed, after their remonstrances, on June 28, (3) the Treaty of Saint-Germain, which was presented to an Austrian delegation in a rough draught on June 2, 1919, and signed, after their remonstrances, on July 20, Both the treaties with Germany and those with Austria had been a source of contention among the Allies. Concerning the former, the Americans and British resisted French demands affecting Germany’s western border, as well as the Polish demand for Danzig (Gdask), which was backed by France, and the Americans also objected to Japanese claims to Germany’s special privileges in Shantung (Shandong), China. The partition of Austria’s former lands on the Adriatic Sea was a point of contention between the Italians and the Yugoslavs in the later treaty.