International Treaties in the Interwar Years

Washington Conference 1921-22

Called by the United States and held in Washington, DC, the Washington Naval Conference was a disarmament conference between the 12th of November 1921 and 6th February 1922. It was conducted outside the League of Nations’ patronage and was attended by nine nations concerning individual stakes in the Pacific Ocean and East Asia. Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium were imperialist nations as well

The Four-Power Pact (December 13, 1921)

The USA, Japan, Great Britain and France

All signatories would be consulted in the event of a controversy between any two of them over “any Pacific question.”

The Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty (February 6, 1922)

The USA, Japan, Great Britain, France and Italy

  • Proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes  at the conference, the powers were to scrap their almost 1.9 million tons of warships.
  • Ceased and even inverted the trend of the post-World War I warship construction race:
    • Entailed the scrapping of 24 British, 26 American, and 16 Japanese warships that were either constructed or under construction.
    • Forwent occurring capital-ship building programs for 10 years, subject to certain specified exceptions.
  • The United States, Great Britain, and Japan assented to sustaining the pre-existing status quo, taking into regard their eastern Pacific defences.
  • Japan announced its intentions of treaty termination; it would expire at the end of 1936 when demands made towards the USA and Britain for equality were refused.

The Nine-Power Pact

The USA, Japan, Great Britain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium and China

  • Affirmed China’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity alongside providing all participating nations with the right to conduct business equally.
    • Acknowledgement of Japanese dominance in Manchuria
    • Internationalisation of the USA’s Open Door Policy in China
  • However, it lacked the means of enforcement to warrant that all powers abided by its written terms.

The Shantung Treaty

Japan and China

  • A bilateral agreement that returned to China:
    •  The control of Shantung province and railroad. 
  • Japan would withdraw its troops from Siberia and the United States 
  • Japan also formally agreed to provide other nations equal access to cable and radio facilities on the Japanese-controlled island of Yap.

The treaties signed at the Washington Naval Conference served to uphold the status quo in the Pacific: they recognized existing interests and did not make fundamental changes to them. 

Genoa Conference 1922

The Genoa Economic and Financial Conference was held in Genoa, Italy from 10th of April to 19th of May 1922. The convention of 34 states assembled to discuss the financial reconstruction of central and eastern Europe and ways to improve relations between the West-European (capitalist) hemisphere and Soviet Russia.

  • Attending states including Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan. The USA did not attend. 
  • This was the first post-World War I conference in which Weimar Germany and the Soviet Union were accepted as equals to other nations. 
    • This was the Soviets’ first attempt to enter the European diplomatic circle following the Russian Revolution.
      • Russia was Communist since 1917 which the other nations were wary about. However, their internal civil war had damaged them greatly.
    • This was also the collective’s first attempt to move past the vilification of Germany.
  • It was convened to resolve several issues in Europe’s postwar restructuring, including:
    • Reintegrating Soviet Russia and Weimar Germany into the political and economic life of Europe 
    • Moscow’s repayment of foreign debts previously incurred by former Russian governments, compensation to foreign holders of privatised property that was nationalised by the Bolsheviks and guarantee of the cession of revolutionary propaganda.
    • The Russians agreed to recognize the debt. 
      • In return, the Allies would cancel Russian war debt, compensate damages inflicted by Allied troops in the post-revolution intervention and provide extensive credit for the Soviet government.
  • The conference adjourned on May 19 as a result of the former Allies’ dissimilar motives and the distrust caused by Germany and the USSR’s announcement of the Treaty of Rapallo.
  • Despite the conference’s failure, the USSR succeeded in obtaining recognition as an essential component of European diplomacy and in fortifying its diplomatic relations with Weimar Germany.

Rapallo Pact 1922

The Treaty of Rapallo was an agreement signed on the 16th of April 1922 between the German Republic and the USSR. Lasting ten years, the signatories agreed to waive all financial and territorial claims against each other after WW1 and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

TermsTo renounce all wartime claims against each other, collaborate economically, and inaugurate diplomatic relations.
To supply heavy weapons and facilities for German military training, which was prohibited by the Treaty of VersaillesTo conduct military training for the Soviets and to provide the Soviet Union with an annual payment. 
ResultFound a trading partner and won normalization of relations without resolving the debt issueEnded its isolation with an apparent shift to an Eastern policy
  • The United Kingdom, France, Finland, Poland, and the Baltic states viewed the bilateral agreement with alarm

Treaty of Lausanne 1923

It was a peace treaty negotiated during the Lausanne Conference of 1922–23 and signed in the Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24 July 1923. Otherwise known as the final treaty that concluded World War I. Signed by representatives of Turkey (the Ottoman Empire’s successor state) on one side and by Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Greece, Romania, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) on the other. It was a follow-up to another treaty that wasn’t formally signed. 

Turkey was the first country to be able to make a diplomatic, modern change for the better.


It has been difficult to impose the treaties after the Paris Conference after the war. Seems that the Paris Conference didn’t solve enough problems which leaked into the Second World War. There were a lot of tensions that were solved by goodwill, though.