‘A Subject which Excites the Deepest Interest throughout the Civilised World’

Umut Özsu

in Formalizing Displacement

Published in print December 2014 | ISBN: 9780198717430
Published online March 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191787003 | DOI:

Series: The History and Theory of International Law

‘A Subject which Excites the Deepest Interest throughout the Civilised World’

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This chapter considers the text and travaux préparatoires of the convention by which the compulsory Greek–Turkish exchange was governed. Reading statements at the 1922–3 Conference of Lausanne, it explains the convention’s role in shaping the juridico-political architecture of post-Ottoman Turkey. Nearly all delegates agreed that the exchange would need to be undertaken with ‘technical’ legal instruments. This, however, did not prevent those at the negotiating table from drawing upon the very ethno-nationalism they sought to elide through reliance upon legal ‘technique’. Crucially, this strained engagement with ethno-nationalism found expression in the question of how the exchange would bear upon the status of non-Muslims remaining in Turkey. The Mandate System was believed to be incompatible with conditions in Turkey, and minority protection to be insufficient to ensure order. Recourse was thus had to the compulsory exchange, a mechanism that would keep the risk of majority–minority conflicts to a minimum.

Keywords: population transfer; international law; Exchange Convention; Conference of Lausanne; minority protection; nation-building; nationalism; Greece; Turkey

Chapter.  17078 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration ; History of Law

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