The General Assembly Reconsidered

  • Maurice Keens-Soper


At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 it seemed plain that the diplomatic system of Europe had failed and that, left unreformed, its rudimentary institutions for the conduct of international politics would fail again. Force and the threat of war, long considered indispensable instruments of policy, now threatened to destroy not only those engaged in their use but the civilisation of which the states of Europe and their worldwide ramifications were the political expression. States, it was therefore determined, must henceforth bind themselves to one another in promises of permanent peacetime association to find less terminal ways to contain their conflicts, adjust their interests and civilise their affairs. War however was only the most haphazard of a whole repertoire of discredited practices. The malign calculus of the balance of power, the privileged position of the ‘great powers’, their divisive alliances and immoral arms races were equally implicated in failure. But most fundamental of all, the institution through which all these were related was held responsible for the catastrophe. Almost overnight diplomacy became ‘secret diplomacy’ and that expression, in what had been proclaimed the century of the common man, a term of damning criticism. Diplomacy was seen to be the art of circumscribing anarchy and had led to chaos.


International Relation Security Council World Country Political Liberty Public Assembly 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    David Jones, The Tribune’s Visitation (London: Fulcrum Press, 1969). As wine of the country sweet if drawn from wood near to the living wood that bore the grape sours if taken far so can all virtue curdle in transit so vice may be virtue uprooted so is the honey-root of known-site bitter fruit for world-floor.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    B. W. Hill (ed), Edmund Burke on Government, Politics and Society (London: Fontana, 1975) p. 156.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    George Orwell, 1984 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1948) p. 198. Emphasis added.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (London: Dent, 1964) p. 74. Emphasis added.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© G. R. Berridge and A. Jennings 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maurice Keens-Soper

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