Document 4: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, "Manifesto on Disarmament," 1921. Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 14, #243-244, #125).

Document 4: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, "Manifesto on Disarmament," 1921. Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 14, #243-244, #125).


        The "Manifesto on Disarmament" was a resolution formulated at the July 1921 WILPF Congress at Vienna, the organization's third international meeting. Delegates addressed the problem of increased military expenditures since the war's end. They believed that another arms race could only lead to greater international competition and war.

International Headquarters, 6, rue du Vieux College
Geneva (Switzerland)


Manifesto on Disarmament October 1921

        Believing that universal total disarmament is the only sure guarantee of international peace, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom views with horror the great post-war increase of expenditure on armies and navies in the Allied countries, as shown by the figures below.

1913-1914 1920-1921
United States.................. $316,000,000 $911,000,000
(nominally 63,000,000)[A] (nominally 162,000,000)
Britain............................ 28,416,000 164,745,000
France......................... Frs. 913,750,000 Frs. 4,952,000,000
(nominally 37,000,000) (nominally 198,000,000)
Japan.......................... Yen 97,454,515 Yen 250,000,000
(approximately 10,000,000) (approximately 23,000,000)

        When in July the International Congress met in Vienna under the presidency of Miss Jane Addams, the women of 26 nations assembled there were gratified to hear that President Harding had summoned representatives of Japan, Britain, France, Italy and China to meet members of the American Government in Washington to discuss disarmament and Far Eastern questions.

        The delegates at Vienna saw in the projected Washington Conference an opportunity given to the three foremost naval powers to lead the way in lessening the wasteful and devastating expenditure on military force which is impoverishing the world and debasing international relations.

They welcomed especially the following words contained in President Harding's Invitation-

        "The enormous disbursement on rivalries of armament manifestly constitutes a greater part of encumbrance upon enterprise and national prosperity, and avoidable or extravagant expense of this nature is not only without economic justification, but is a constant menace to the peace of the world rather than an assurance of its preservation."

        The National Sections therefore determined each in its own country to awaken interest in the Washington Conference and to ask its government to support this effort towards disarmament.

        The women of the [British Section] of the W.I.L.P.F. therefore venture to approach their representative as the American women are approaching theirs and urge upon them that if the Washington Conference is to result in an agreed immediate reduction in armaments the representatives of [Britain] must give a lead which will inspire the confidence and strengthen the will to peace of the other countries concerned. If to secure this end the nations find it necessary to check an aggressive foreign policy or to withdraw from spheres of influence now occupied or even to abandon designs of enlargement of territory already conceived, we believe that the greatness of the resulting gain in confidence and security will be in proportion to the sacrifice made.

        We would recall that the mariners who discovered the New World set sail on an uncharted sea, and yet their voyage was crowned by the opening up of a continent and the enlargement of the resources and the horizons of mankind. We believe that the same reward will wait upon the efforts of those statesmen at Washington who initiate the voyage in search of a New World set free from the burden of armaments and the fear of war.


A. Conversions are to British pounds.
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