The Versailles Settlement: The Making of an Illegitimate Order?

Ian Clark

in Legitimacy in International Society

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199219193
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191717734 | DOI:
 The Versailles Settlement: The Making of an Illegitimate Order?

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This chapter discusses the Versailles Settlement after World War I. The Versailles is tainted with inaugurating order considered to be illegitimate. It stressed the conditions of rightful membership of international society, but in such a way that this domestic test undermined its simultaneous attempt to integrate the vanquished states into the new system. As far as its treatment of the international dimensions of legitimacy was concerned, Versailles faced problems in finding any effective consensus, around its treatment of Germany specifically, and in the procedural aspects of the treaty negotiations more generally. These features compounded the underlying problems that already awaited the peacemakers. The war had been of such magnitude — affecting so many lives directly, creating both domestic and international divisions, and engendering insatiable expectations of the peace — that the peacemakers were all but impotent to deal sensibly with its consequences. This was not a settlement in which the peacemakers carelessly let the opportunity for consensus–building slip through their fingers: the basic problem of Versailles was that no such consensus could possibly be found.

Keywords: treaties; legitimacy; international settlements; international relations; consensus; World War I

Chapter.  10560 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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