The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Challenge of a New World Order

This article is part of the TRAFO series ”Emerging Topics. Insights from ‘Behind the Scenes’”. Today, we put the spotlight on the international conference: “The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Challenge of a New World Order”. This event will take place in Paris from June 5th to June 8th 2019.

Please find the call for papers and more information on the conference here.

Axel Dröber. Picture: Private.

Axel Dröber is one of the organizers of the conference. He holds a PhD in History and his research interests include the history of war and violence in France of the 19th century and the history of transnational mobility and citizenship in 20th century Europe.

Given that there is already an abundance of research concerned with the Paris Peace Conference, a major event in the history of the 20th century, which new insights and approaches do you hope to uncover with your upcoming conference?

The approach of this conference is twofold. First, the organizers seek to enable a dialogue between both the new diplomatic history and the history of international law. As a matter of fact, both disciplines have already given an important insight into the Paris Peace Conference – as the final chapter of the First World War. But neither research results nor methodological approaches have been compared so far. The second aspect derives directly from the first: we wish to emphasize the question of order. At the Peace Conference, a wide range of political, diplomatic and juridical actors came together, initiated numerous commissions and drafted a new international and global concept.

In the Call for Papers, the “global perspective” is mentioned repeatedly: Why do you think a global perspective is needed and in fact the adequate tool to fully grasp an event such as the Paris Peace Conference?

‘Germany’, 1920. Artist/engraver/cartographer: W & AK Johnston. Provenance: „The World Wide Atlas of Modern Geography Political and Physical“; Published by W. & A. K. Johnston, Edinburgh & Macmillan & Co Ltd. London. 10th Edition. Type: Colour vintage map.

Once again, the answer involves two aspects and two approaches. On the one hand, our aim is to distinguish the proposals for a new international future from the notion of national interest. We are convinced that the ideas and concepts developed in 1919 went beyond the articulation of security interests. We believe that they rather focused on how to ensure the basis for a durable peace and shared institutions that would help to resolve conflicts by mediation. On the other hand, order is an analytical concept intended to encourage the participants to identify and analyse the shared understandings of the historical actors. We would like to know more about common assumptions, views on the question of war and peace and so on. High expectations often burdened the future peace and led to many confrontations and endless debates among the allied representatives. The compromises achieved by the numerous commissions and under-commissions had a decisive impact on the form and the content of the treaties.

Do you understand your upcoming conference as a contribution to new diplomatic history or do you think the papers and discussions taking place at the event will and should also touch upon other fields of history?

Of course the actors of the Peace Conference and their proposals for a new international law-system and a global order are in the foreground. But we are also seeking new insights into how different social groups like women, workers or colonial subjects were heard. We wish to raise the question of the impact of alternative ideas and concepts on international affairs. And we will discuss how the peace treaties were legitimatised to domestic and international audiences.


Citation: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Challenge of a New World Order – Interview with Axel Dröber, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 22.03.2018, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/2168.


Max Weber Stiftung

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, focused on the areas of social sciences, cultural studies and the humanities. Our research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries across the globe with different and independent fields of focus. Through our globally operating institutes, we are able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and our host countries or regions. By promoting academic dialogue and merging academic and non-academic employees from several countries with different cultural backgrounds, the Max Weber Foundation is able to strengthen the internationalization of research.

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1 Antwort

  1. Conference languages French and English, such as at the devastating Paris Conference 99Y ago. How interesting that the GERMAN Historical Institute in Paris (!) decided in favour of this bilingual option, particularly in Brexit times (Brexits 1919-2019, see https://cuvillier.de/de/shop/publications/7700-hundert-jahre-urkatastrophe-der-kolonialvertrag-1919). What’s wrong with any trilingual approach or French-German duality? That London-Paris Treaty of 1919 is an unprecedented shame for Europe and mankind. You’ve got the chance to acknowledge this in important assets of presentation and organization to the world, for example: language.

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