International Conference for the League of Nations, February 1919

International Conference for the League of Nations
Berne, 5th to 12th March 1919.

The hope seems justified that the next months will bring the beginning of the [realization] of the idea of the League of Nations. We, neutral Peace and League of Nations [organizations], believed that under these circumstances numerous of our [likeminded] friends in the different countries of the world, will cherish the wish to meet in a neutral country to show the world by a united demonstration that the spirit of justice and international goodwill, the necessary basis for the vital power of the League of Nations, exists in a great measure among all peoples.

Anticipating this desire of our friends, we feel obliged to take the initiative towards an international conference for the League of Nations with the above named general purpose, which could besides offer the opportunity for common deliberations upon some not yet fully explained problems of the more technical kind as specified in the [annex].

We beg to invite you therefore to participate in our conference which will take place in Berne on the 5th of March and following days. We request you to telegraphically announce your coming at the address: League Nations Conference, Bernerhof, Berne.

We would ask those, who agree to the plan of a general demonstration for a League of Nations on the basis of justice and international goodwill, but who are prevented from coming to Berne, to send us a declaration of their sympathy and to make known their opinion about the problems to be discussed.

Algemeene Nederlandsche Bond "Vrede door Recht", The Hague;

Comité "de Europeesche Statenbond", Laren (Holland);

Comité d'Initiative en faveur d'une Paix durable, Geneva;

Comité Suisse pour la préparation d'une Société des Nations, Zürich;

Danish Group of the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace, Copenhague;

Danish Group of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, Copenhague;

Dutch Section of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, Amsterdam; [page 2]

Institut Catholique pour la Paix "Reconciiatio", Fribourg (Suisse);

Ligue pour la Défense of l'Humanité, Berne;

Ligue des Femmes pour la Paix, Fribourg (Suisse);

Norwegian Section of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, Christiania;

Schweizer Verein für Freiheit und Völkerbund, Berne;

Section romande de la Ligue suisse pour une Société des Nations, Lausanne;

Si vis Pacem, para Pacem, Rotterdam;

Société pour le Développement du Droit international, Frisbourg (Suisse);

Société Suisse de la Paix, Lucerne;

Svenska Freds-och Skiljedoms Förening, Stockholm;

Swedish Section of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, Stockholm;

Swiss Committee of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, Zürich;

Theosophische Vereeniging "Wereldvrede", The Hague. [page 3]

[Program] for discussion.

1) Preparation of the League of Nations.

The right of all the States, intended for future membership of the League of Nations, to a voice in the conference about the basis on which the League will be founded.

2) Extent of the League of Nations.

a. What guarantees (democratic constitutional definitions, etc.) should be demanded as to the sincere intentions of the States which join the League of Nations?

b. Are special alliances to be permitted between States which join the League of Nations?

3) Aim of the League of Nations.

Should the League of Nations principally serve only for the prevention of future wars, or should it be also a union with the purpose of universal [organized] international cooperation, in material and cultural spheres?

4) International Legislation.

a. A conference of the States, or a parliament of the Nations? In the first case, can the right of the people to a voice, be increased by specially adapted measures (choice of representatives, referendum, etc.)?

b. Equality of every State, or the number of votes according to importance? What should be the decisive factors?

c. Should the resolutions of a majority be binding or has a minority the right of veto?

d. Competence of the international legislative: [organization] of the League of Nations, protection of [Labor], rights of women, suppression of to the inflammatory press, etc.?

5) International jurisdiction.

a. Should the difference continue between disputes which can be settled by arbitration, and conflicts of interests which do not admit of arbitration?

b. Does the necessity exist for an international council of conciliation, besides the international court of justice and the international legislative?

c. The obligation of conforming to the international award, or only a period of delay and prohibition of declaration of war, without previous consultation with the international organs? [page 4]

6) International executive.

a. Economic measures of coercion, or if necessary also military?

b. Should a permanent international police force be formed, or does a collective engagement of the States suffice, to place in case of need, a suitable part of the national military forces at the disposal of the executive, in view of maintaining international law?

c. Possibility for the smaller States to declare themselves permanently neutral, in order to be exempted from taking part in a collective military action?

7) International disarmament.

a. On land: only limitation of armaments, or total disarmament to the limit of the military force necessary for the maintenance of interior order?

b. Also naval disarmament to the same proportional extent as on land: According to what principles? Also [internationalization] of the water ways?

c. International control of the directions for disarmament?

8) Economic Peace.

a. Is an international commission for the just distribution of raw stuffs possible?

b. International adjustment of the colonial question?

c. Liberty of movement for people and goods?

9) Freedom of the Seas.

In a League of Nations, is there still a question of the freedom of the seas?

10) Right of [self-disposal] of the nations.

a. What should be understood by a "nation" that can dispose of itself?

b. In what manner shall the right of [self-disposal] be exercised? When is a plebiscite desirable? What guarantees are necessary for its independent accomplishment?

c. Protection of the cultural and linguistic minorities.

We have the intention of discussing these questions in sections.

As at the time of the March-conference only some of these problems might be of urgent actuality, other questions could be treated later, when they have gained in actual interest by the negotiations of the peace conference, in further conferences in spring. Thus the March-conference could be the commencement of a series of international meetings at which the most important problems of the international [organization] would be regularly studied by representatives of the most suitable associations and brought up for detailed explanation.