by David Swanson
‘It has become a well-kept secret that war is illegal…’ So starts Swanson’s book When the World Outlawed War, a clear, simply written but detailed description of how the Kellogg-Briand Pact came into being. So much hard work went into achieving it, and following the story laid out by Swanson, we can learn much about how desperate the ordinary people were for peace after WWI, and the many peace organisations that lobbied politicians into supporting the Pact.
What is sad is that Levinson, the man who from the first worked to outlaw war, should not be included in the name of the Pact; that Kellogg got the glory and picked up the Nobel Prize. The Pact created a law that for the first time made war illegal. It was originally signed in 1928 by only 15 states, but in the years that followed, many more supported it. And, a point which Swanson stresses, it is still law, even if it only outlawed war between the signatories. In fact the Pact is stronger than the UN Charter in its prohibition of all war. Needless to say, by the 1940s most of the signatories were at war with each other, the Pact forgotten.
How many times do we have to outlaw this barbaric practice before politicians take notice? As campaigners against war, we need to be able to inform people of war’s illegality. This book will help.