1932: the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of the League of Nations opens in Geneva

The poster entitled “The World Must Choose at the World Disarmament Conference” belongs to the Visual Collection of the League of Nations Archives (Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva).

It was published by the National Council for Prevention of War, to support the League of Nations Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments which opened in Geneva on 2 February 1932. Commonly called the World Disarmament Conference, it was the first disarmament conference of this scale, broadly supported by civil society from all over the world, nurturing the hopes of a public opinion deeply affected by the scars of the First World War.

The delegates of 64 nations stood at a crossroads: either pursue efforts to maintain peace by collective security and reduction of armaments, as mandated by the 1919 Covenant of the League of Nations, or stand firm on the principle of sovereignty, which could only lead to an arms race.

History shows the tragic consequences of the latter choice, made against a background of economic crisis and the radicalization of political ideologies. However, after the shock of the Second World War, it is on a renewed foundation, within a different context, that the United Nations continued multilateral negotiations.

For more information:

UN Geneva Library & Archives


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