Treaty of Locarno

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The Treaty of Locarno was in fact five treaties concluded on 16 October 1925, the architects of which were France's Aristide Briand, Great Britain's Austen Chamberlain and Germany's Gustav Stresemann.

  • Treaty of Mutual Guarantee, signed by Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy, guaranteeing the territorial status quo resulting from the frontiers between France and Germany, and Germany and Belgium. They also guaranteed the demilitarization of the Rhine as provided in Articles 42 and 43 of the Treaty of Versailles.

Four arbitration treaties:

  • Arbitration Convention between Germany and Belgium, under the Mutual Guarantee Treaty.
  • Arbitration Convention between Germany and France, under the Mutual Guarantee Treaty.
  • Arbitration Treaty between Germany and Poland, but not related to or covered by the Treaty of Mutual Guarantee.
  • Arbitration Treaty between Germany and Czechoslovakia, but not related to or covered by the Treaty of Mutual Guarantee.

The latter two were vitally different in that it meant not only would Britain and Italy not guarantee to come to the aid of the victim by reason of a violation of the arbitration clauses, but it also meant that there was no undertaking by Germany to accept the frontiers as settled in 1922, so that any violation of that frontier would not automatically place Germany in the wrong. Further, although Germany undertook not to resort to force from the start but to accept arbitration, the Germans made it clear at the time that this did not mean that under certain conditions force would not be eventually employed. As a result of this France signed new alliance treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia on the same day as the Locarno treaties but nothing to do with Locarno. (This was in addition to the Secret Military Convention between France and Poland of 21 February 1921.) How France could assist these countries , militarily, remains the question as after signing the Treaty of Mutual Guarantee they could not cross German borders. Germany thereafter sought to use Article 19 of the League of Nations' Covenant which said "The Assembly may from time to time advise the reconsideration by Members of the League of Treaties which have become inapplicable, and the consideration of international conditions which might endanger the peace of the world.[1]

On the 16th October 1925 the Final Protocol of the Locarno Conference 1925 was signed by the representatives of the German, Belgian, British, French, Italian, Polish, and Czechoslovak Governments, who had met at Locarno from the 5th to the 16th October "in order to seek by common agreement means for preserving their respective nations from the scourge of war and for providing for the peaceful settlement of disputes of every nature which might eventually arise between them, have given their approval to the draft treaties and conventions which respectively affect them and which, framed in the course of the present conference, are mutually interdependent" [sic].

In Anglo-French relations the Locarno treaties remained important until the eve of the Second World War.

Sources

  1. Newman, Bernard, Danger Spots of Europe, London, 1938, p.20.
  • Grenville, Professor J. A. S., The Major International Treaties 1914-1973, Methuen, London, 1974, ISBN: 0-416-09070-2