The Failure of Peace Treaties

May 15, 2014

8,400 Historical Treaties for Peace, 1500 BC to 2013 AD
(over 3,500 years = average 2.4 treaties per year)

Efforts to prevent and outlaw future wars are well established. Historical sociologist Jacques Novicow reported more than 8,000 treaties for peace between 1500 BC and 1860 AD (a 3,360-year period with an average of nearly 2.4 treaties per year).

There have been at least 400 treaties from 1861 to 2013 (, list of treaties), or an average of 2.6 treaties per year over this 153-year period. Note: This does not count the more than 400 treaties between the US government and various Indigenous tribes/nations.

In 1894, Russian sociologist Jacques Novicow [1] (1849-1912, age 63) cited Swiss-born Frenchman Gustave Valbert’s [2] research in support of establishing international institutions to promote peace. Valbert documented that from the year 1500 BC to 1860 AD (3,360 years) more than 8,000 treaties were adopted with intention to assure permanent peace (average 2.4 treaties/year). The average time they remained in force was but two years.

The Moscow Gazette (1894:16–17): “From the year 1496 BC to 1861 AD, in 3,358 years, there were 227 years of peace and 3,130 years of war, or thirteen years of war to every year of peace. Within the last three centuries there have been 286 wars in Europe.”

F. J. P. Veale (British, 1897-1976, age 79) cited these figures on history of treaties in Advance to Barbarism.[3] In the book he describes the futile efforts of the Kellogg Pact and Nuremberg, among others, to restrain power which always justifies exemptions/exceptions to the rule of law to preserve its position. Nuremberg was victor’s justice, establishing a dangerous precedent since “it removed all restraints from the most brutal and ruthless conduct of warfare in the future” because it exempted the egregious war crimes of the US and its allies, including the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan.[4]

There have been 14,600 Wars over the past 5,600 years [5] (average of 2.6 per year)

Treaties are, in effect, Panglossian pacts. Pangloss was a fictional character in Voltaire’s 1759 novel Candide relentlessly expressing optimism despite great suffering. Panglossian has come to mean being blindly or naively optimistic despite the circumstances or realities.


[1] Jacques Novicow, La guerre et ses prétendus bienfaits (Paris: A. Colin, 1894); War and Its Alleged Benefits, trans. by Thomas Seltzer (New York, 1911).

[2] Gustave Valbert, “La Guerre et la Paix Perpetuelle”/War and Perpetual Peace, Revue des Deux Monde, Vol. 122, 11:690-701, 1894.] Gustave Valbert was the pseudonym for Charles Victor Cherbuliez (1829-1899, age 60). In 1864, at the age 35, he joined the Paris staff of literary and political journal, Revue des Deux Mondes, writing critical essays under the pseudonym of G. Valbert.

[3] F. J. P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism (Appleton, WI: C.C. Nelson Publishing Co., 1953), 8.

[4] Ibid., xvi.

[5] Edward Tick, War and the Soul (Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books, 2005), 42; James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 17-18, identifying “decisive wars,” not counting “thousands of indecisive ones.”].


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