Versailles and Rights: A Centenary Appraisal

3.-4. June 2019 at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

The conference is organised by the Helsinki Col­legium for Ad­vanced Stud­ies and the Karelian Institute of the University of Eastern Finland, supported by the ERA.Net RUS Plus project ‘Post-imperial diversities – majority-minority relations in the transition from empires to nation-states’, part-funded by the Academy of Finland.

The Versailles conference and the founding of the League of Nations in 1919-1920 had, as a major task, the objective of reorganising the territories of Eastern Europe and the Middle East following the collapse of the Habsburg, Ottoman and Russian Empires. While much of the emphasis of the Versailles deliberations (and of subsequent scholarship) was on the new territorial arrangements, the conference also added impetus and international legal significance to discourses about minority rights. Different principles of national rights – self-determination, territorial or personal autonomy, federalism – were brought to the table and debated. The process also borrowed from pre-existing discourses, and fed into broader discussions about Rights at a time when Women’s rights and human rights were also achieving significant progress. The discourses about Rights established under the Versailles process set the tone for the policies of the League of Nations, and went on to inform discussions about Rights ever since.

This international conference will revisit the issue of Rights at the Versailles conference itself; the antecedents to Versailles in discussions about rights in the early twentieth century; the implementation of the Versailles principles in the 1920s; and the legacy of Versailles on Rights discussions and policies over the subsequent 100 years.

The event is live streamed on UniTube: http://video.helsinki.fi/unitube/live-stream.html?room=l29

Helsinki Collegium for Advanced StudiesAcademy of FinlandUniversity of Eastern Finland