The General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy remains in force

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The 1928 Kellogg–Briand Pact, officially the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, is a simple read. It’s so simple that its three short articles are easy to miss in the text of the Treaty.

These are the two substantial articles (the third deals with ratification):


The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.


The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

The fact of the Second World War proves the Treaty’s failure in practice but I was grateful to the Attorney General’s department for confirming in an answer to a recent Parliamentary question that it remains in force:

Conflict Prevention: Treaties

Steve Baker: To ask the Attorney-General if he will make an assessment of whether the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy remains binding on the UK.

The Solicitor-General: I am advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy (also known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact) remains in force and that the United Kingdom remains a party.

Perhaps the brevity, simplicity and directness of the Treaty and its historic failure explain why certain statesmen continue to believe in war as an instrument of policy, with or without the support of the United Nations. The US State Department comments:

The first major test of the pact came just a few years later in 1931, when the Mukden Incident led to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Though Japan had signed the pact, the combination of the worldwide depression and a limited desire to go to war to preserve China prevented the League of Nations or the United States from taking any action to enforce it. Further threats to the Peace Agreement also came from fellow signatories Germany, Austria and Italy. It soon became clear that there was no way to enforce the pact or sanction those who broke it; it also never fully defined what constituted “self-defense,” so there were many ways around its terms. In the end, the Kellogg-Briand Pact did little to prevent World War II or any of the conflicts that followed. Its legacy remains as a statement of the idealism expressed by advocates for peace in the interwar period. Frank Kellogg earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929 for his work on the Peace Pact.

Idealistic the Treaty may be but the British Government just confirmed in the season of goodwill that it remains in force and the UK remains a party.

The spirit of it is simple enough: the UK may not engage in acts of aggression under any circumstances. I hope this straightforward lesson in international law will become widely known.

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2 replies on “The General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy remains in force”
  1. says: chuck martel

    Not only did Mr. Kellogg win the Nobel Peace Prize, the city fathers in his home, St.Paul, MN, named a significant downtown street after him and later built a spectacular hockey arena beside it. Chances are that few of the puck fans arriving to watch war on the ice even know who the fellow was. But his intentions were good, which is, after all, what one needs to achieve immortality.

  2. says: Hedley Lester

    The treaty is not only still in force, as was also confirmed in 2010 by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to a Freedom of Information request, but it’s implications together with those of a host of other war laws – both international and UK domestic, means that every international military action by UK armed forces by which someone has been killed or injured, since 2001 or before, has been illegal and a war crime.

    Each such action as well as any which ‘creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public’ of any country also qualifies as an act of terrorism as defined in section 1 of the Terrorism Act, 2000.

    The same body of war and terrorism law makes any individual both a war criminal and a terrorist who provides money to any organisation or government that takes such military action.

    All UK taxpayers provide money to such a government.

    Until the UK withdraws all its forces from Afghanistan and ceases all such military activity as an instrument of national policy it is therefore illegal to pay any taxes or to make any other kind of payment to the UK government and any of its agents.

    This includes Council Tax because all local authorities in the UK both are agents of and collect Council Tax on behalf of HM Treasury. All local taxes go directly to HM Treasury upon collection. None of it is kept by the councils collecting it. They are funded by a grant from the government.

    To learn more about war law and why it makes you a criminal if you pay taxes to the UK government and to follow the fight that several of us have taken to the courts against illegal wars by refusing to pay taxes until the government complies with it’s obligations under international and domestic law, please go to

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