A hundred years of jaw-jaw not war

The World Today
Published 9 December 2019 Updated 2 November 2020 2 minute READ

Paris, 1919: Lionel Curtis, a British diplomat, delivered a barnstorming speech to the British and American delegates to the Paris Peace Conference, championing a vision that was to alter the course of international politics.

Curtis’s idea was for an organization whose purpose would be to foster mutual understanding of and between nations through debate, dialogue and independent analysis. Bodies already existed for the study and advancement of science, medicine and the arts – why not, with Europe still reeling from the bloodbath of the First World War, create one for international relations?

Out of this idea, two organizations were born. In London, the British Institute of International Affairs – later to be known as Chatham House – and in New York, the Council on Foreign Relations.

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