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Liaison Committees of International Women's Organizations and the Changing Landscape of Women's Internationalism, 1920s to 1945

By Susan Zimmermann

Central European University

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By the 1920s women's internationalism — defined as a set of border-crossing women's organizations and networks which developed since the second half of the 19th century — had bred a new organizational configuration: the "co-operative" and "liaison" committee (and its officers). In this essay I explore the history of three such liaison committees in the period between the 1920s and 1945. The Joint Standing Committee of Women's International Organisations established in 1925 with a rather narrow mandate and the Liaison Committee of International Women's Organisations established in 1930/1931 with its much broader mandate both33 played an important role in women's organizations' co-operation. The Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality, established as an advisory body to the League of Nations in 1931 can be regarded as a third significant co-operative committee. All three Committees operated as institutionalized links among different international women's organizations. Secondly, they mediated the relationship between women's organized internationalism and the new international inter-state organizations headquartered at Geneva, the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO).[1] Thirdly, the three committees were sustained by those international women's organizations which considered the internationalist world unfolding at Geneva an important focus of their work.[2]

   The emergence and development of these committees contributed to and signified ongoing change in the organizational landscape and political outlook of women's internationalism. In this essay I describe important elements and dynamics characterizing this change, give a reliable account of the organizational history of the three committees, and point to major lines of the political history of the international liaison committees and their contributions to international women's politics.

1.Why liaison committees? International politics and women's internationalism in the interwar period.

   The inter-organizational committees created to connect different international women's organizations were in substance intended to institutionalize co-operation between international organizations and to systematically co-ordinate their activities on the international level. This formalized co-operation among international women's organizations signalled — as I shall demonstrate in the following sections — a need for and an interest in co-ordinating the manifold activities that characterized a diversifying landscape of women's organizations. In addition, and most importantly, the emergence of the "coöperative"[3] and then "joint," "consultative" and "liaison" committee was a response to significant changes in the broader historical context in which women's international organizations operated and to which they tried to relate in a pro-active and effective manner. Women's organizations had long been struggling to develop their own world of internationalism, aiming to influence, from an international platform and a women's and gender perspective, policy in national as well as transnational contexts. From 1919, however, women's internationalism was faced with a sudden expansion of inter-state internationalism. With the League of Nations and the ILO at its core, this new "official" international world was without precedent in international relations in many respects. For the first time in history governments had decided to institutionalize a system of international institutions and permanent international machinery based on broad political mandates.[4] For women's international organizations and networks the emergence of this internationalism, referred to as official Geneva internationalism or official Geneva in the following, presented both a new space of opportunity but on some levels also a new political strait-jacket. Women internationalists and their organizations were anxious to ensure that the new international politics emerging at Geneva and adding a new international layer to politics everywhere in the world wouldn't simply ignore them and their agenda and interests. They therefore felt strongly that they had to focus a considerable part of their activities at official Geneva. At the same time women internationalists, and certainly many of those gathered together in the non-socialist and liberal or liberal-conservative organizations, were overly enthusiastic about the new international world of Geneva. They shared this enthusiasm with many other international organizations, intellectuals, and activists of the time who, adopting an "idealist" perspective on international relations or a liberal view on internationalism, were convinced that organized internationalism, even if not endowed with compelling powers over the nations and the statesmen of the world, was a key instrument to make the world better and safer. If this perspective today has transmuted in great measure into adherence to the ideal of "global governance," in the interwar period "Geneva" epitomized this world vision.[5] Accordingly, for many women's organizations official Geneva, and in particular the new internationalist politics developing in its orbit, seemed to offer unknown and hitherto unexplored opportunities to achieve more, and by new political means and through new political channels, than ever before for the women of the world and the world as a whole. An account, for example, by a representative of the International Council of Women (ICW) on women's activities around the annual Assembly of the League of Nations sitting at Geneva in September 1930 concluded with the following statement: "All these activities ... which we were privileged to witness last month at Geneva, have once more tended to prove that the hope and expectation of the whole world with regard to the amelioration of present conditions and the progress of life, are fixed on the League of Nations."[6] In a more restrained tone the 1929 report of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) stated that "whatever be its character and merits, it is in the League of Nations that world policies are now formed"; therefore the organization "must watch what goes on" in the League and be present at its various meetings whenever possible.[7] Critical or ironical distance as epitomized in Erich Kästner's marvellous The Conference of the Animals (Die Konferenz der Tiere, 1949) — in which the animals through a major unexpected coup successfully challenge the perseverant lack of results of "the fourth day of the eighty-seventh conference of the statesmen" — was rather absent from the mind-set of those joining what has been termed the "enthusiastic 'genevoise' crowd."[8]

   The international women's networks and organisations active in Geneva and working from within and through this constellation also faced a number of serious challenges. One problem was that women's organizations and networks at times seemed to be reduced to reacting to the dynamically developing agendas of official Geneva internationalism. Instead of pro-actively promoting women's interests in relation to official Geneva it seemed that more often than not they were reduced to post facto trying to add women's interest to what was going on in official Geneva or to altering Geneva politics from the point of view of women's interest and representation. While the interaction with official Geneva, even if rather one-sided, certainly contributed on a number of levels to broadening the agenda of women's internationalism, it also implied that to an extent women's internationalism simply followed Geneva dynamics. A women's internationalism became constrained by official Geneva in terms of agenda-setting, defining key themes and fields of action, and at least in determining the foci of international women's politics. In addition, women's organizations in their endeavour to influence official Geneva encountered substantial difficulties and resistance. It was certainly a complex and difficult task to affect or ruffle official Geneva internationalism, robustly state-based and male-biased as it was. As women's organizations were knocking at the doors of official Geneva they collected manifold new experiences but also many setbacks.[9]

   International women's organizations and their leading representatives for all of these reasons began to contemplate strategies of making women's politics at Geneva more successful. One strategy was to try to professionalize women's lobbying strategies in relation to the state-based and male-biased new international world. Women's organizations soon learned that it was worthwhile to acquire diplomatic skills and political professionalism so as to be able to comply with and make work for their own purposes the world of diplomacy as transferred from the old interstate politics to the international world of Geneva.[10] In addition, the more that international women's organizations with their manifold overlapping but also conflicting agendas aimed to impact official Geneva the more important it appeared to coordinate the diverse efforts. It was against this background that international women's organizations established liaison committees as a new form of institutionalized co-operation. These were to create a unified or at least more transparent, professional representation of women's demands, to lend weight to these demands and to organize Geneva women's policies in an effective way avoiding contradictory, ambiguous, or unclear messages. As women's organizations worked hard to invalidate accusations that their policy was unprofessional and the widely held belief that women could not to be taken seriously in international politics they embarked on new political strategies and the liaison committees formed an important part of this re-orientation.

   At the same time the new co-operative bodies, with the special task of coordinating and promoting the politics of women's international organizations, soon developed a life of their own which added an additional layer to international women's politics. The liaison committees, endowed with (if at times contested) authority to negotiate and represent the aims and perspectives of international women's organizations, served as a space of opportunity for promoting and establishing within the circle of women's internationalism organizations new profiles, new policy agendas, and new organizations. In this way in the 1930s the co-operative committees served to add a more pro-active and politically innovative dimension to women's politics at Geneva. The committees facilitated the internationalization of existing agendas and contributed to the thematic expansion of international women's politics.

2.The Joint Standing Committee of Women's International Organisations

   The Joint Standing Committee of Women's International Organisations held its first preliminary meeting in London on 7 July 1925 "for securing the appointment of women to the International and Expert Committees of the League of Nations".[11] This event and the ensuing formal establishment of the Joint Standing Committee with its focused mandate was a result of number of developments which highlighted ongoing change in the character and needs of women's internationalism in the interwar period. Back in 1919, during the negotiations on the creation of the League of Nations and the ILO, clauses had been included in the foundational documents of both organizations that were aimed at enabling or even ensuring the representation of women. According to the Covenant of the League of Nations "[a]ll positions under or in connection with the League, including the Secretariat, shall be open equally to men and women."[12] The Constitution of the ILO included clauses stating that the "staff of the International Labour Office" should include a "certain number of…women" and that at the International Labour Conference, the annual assembly of the ILO where delegates could "be accompanied by advisers" there should be included "at least" one woman among the advisors "[w]hen questions specially affecting women are to be considered."[13] Lobbying by women's organizations at Paris in 1919, where the "peacemakers" decided about the architecture of future official Geneva, had had a tangible bearing on the related decision making.[14]

   With the regulations and the related opportunities for the representation of women in place and against the background of their desire to labour for women's interests at Geneva, women's international organizations soon strove for co-operation and also competed politically as they aspired to bring to bear their influence upon the League of Nations and the ILO. In terms of securing the appointment of woman candidates to official, women's organizations not only faced the resistance of these male-dominated bodies, but also felt that their endeavours were obstructed by the lack of collective or at least co-ordinated nomination and backing of candidates by the women's organizations themselves. The ensuing endeavours to institutionalize co-operation among women's international organizations involved a more narrow focus on effective co-ordination to ensure greater chances for women candidates to be appointed on bodies of the League of Nations as well as broader efforts for political co-operation. In 1922 the leadership of the ICW for example passed three resolutions aimed at bringing about closer co-operation with the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (referred to as IAW[15] in the following). One resolution aimed at the establishment of a "Joint Committee" which was to work for the appointment of women on bodies of the League.[16] In turn, the IAW in 1923 resolved that henceforth it would ensure that "three voting representatives" of the ICW would have the right to participate in the IAW's general assembly held at regular intervals. The hope was expressed that the ICW would reciprocate.[17]

   In the end it was a resolution passed at the quinquennial meeting of the ICW in May 1925 that triggered the first preliminary meeting of Joint Standing Committee of Women's International Organisations in London two months later. Thereby, the ICW committed itself to invite other international women's organizations "to work unitedly for the appointment of suitable women" to League commissions "where women's opinion should be represented." At the meeting in London besides the "Big Three" — i.e. the ICW, the IAW (represented by President Margery Corbett Ashby) and WILPF[18] — only the World's Young Women's Christian Association was represented. Other organizations had been invited, their definitive acceptance to join the committee pending. As for procedure it was agreed that any society would have the right to abstain from joint activity if any matter came before the committee outside of its sphere of work.[19] Already at the preliminary meeting two concrete appointments to expert committees of the League of Nations were discussed which were obviously conceived of as pressing issues; it might indeed be the case that these pending issues contributed to triggering the establishment of the Joint Standing Committee. One of these was the appointment of a woman to the Temporary Slavery Commission of the League of Nations, yet in the end it turned out that the life of the Temporary Slavery Commission established in 1924 "came to an end" in 1925 "before anything could be done." The other was the appointment of a woman to the Committee of Experts for the Progressive Codification of International Law which had been established by a resolution of the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1924 and was to develop into an important League body as well as point of reference for women's politics at Geneva. The (preliminary) Joint Standing Committee in this case proposed Chrystal Macmillan, yet her nomination was rejected.[20]

   A number of additional organizations were added to the Joint Standing Committee during the following months. By 1927, with the federation of the World's Union of Women for International Concord, the International Federation of University Women, the International Council of Nurses, and the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Joint Standing Committee had matured into its permanent stature for some years to come. The Medical Women's International Association had agreed to co-operate when the question of nominating a woman doctor was under consideration. Organized Catholic women had refrained from affiliation as they could not participate in a "non-denominational international body." Efforts to persuade the International Committee of Trade Union Women to associate didn't meet with success. After prolonged negotiations the International Co-operative Women's Guild decided not to join the committee and to confine co-operation to occasional special matters from time to time.[21]

   The activities of the Joint Standing Committee, as reported in its minutes and in a summary compiled in the 1940s, were confined largely to establishing agreement as to which women to propose, jointly, to the many committees and institutions operating under or connected with the League of Nations and the International Labour Office in Geneva, and on formally proposing as well as lobbying the appointment of these women. [22] A variety of means and channels were used for this purpose. In direct relation to official Geneva the "work of the Committee has been much helped" by women holding positions within the core institutions of official Geneva, namely "Princess Radziwill of the League of Nations Secretariat and Fräulein Mundt of the International Labour Office who have always been ready to give information and advice as to procedure."[23] Within the Joint Standing Committee itself systematic and careful preparation work was done in order to come up with final and agreed-upon lists of the names "of competent women" for all kinds of positions within the institutions of official Geneva. "Each of the International Organizations represented on the Committee corresponds with its own nationals as to the women experts in their countries for the particular subjects of the Commissions. The names recommended by the national groups are considered by the Joint Committee and a selection of several names is made. These are sent to the League with details regarding their work and capacities." Especially at the time of the meetings of the Assembly of the League of Nations deputations were sent to various bodies and leading representatives of official Geneva in order to lend additional weight to women's demands.[24] In addition, various less formal activities were conducted. From "its inception in 1925" the Joint Standing Committee for example annually gave a reception at the opening day of the League Assembly "in honour of the Women members of the delegations" (The Liaison Committee later joined this initiative).[25]

   The success of these policies was limited though. True, in case of the few stable and more important positions women held with the League (such as on the Mandate Commission or in the Social Section of the League) once replacement was needed the Joint Committee successfully lobbied for the candidates it had selected. Yet for many bodies and on many occasions it turned out that full status for women was not a realistic option. It was rather temporary or small expert committees (such as the Committee of Experts on Native Labour of the ILO) and positions at the margins rather than at the centre of the League where there was some success.[26] Within the women's circles themselves initiatives aimed at the establishment on the national level of representative councils or committees for the representation of women at the League of Nations, i.e. national liaison councils composed of representatives of the women's organizations within one country, met with limited success.[27]

   After the establishment of the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations in 1930/1931 (section 3) the Joint Standing Committee continued its work in close co-operation with the newly founded sister committee. The meetings of the two committees — which during the year operated from London and at the time of the meetings of the League Assembly in Geneva — as a rule were "held consecutively to one another on the same day."[28] In 1932 a first attempt was made to incorporate the work of the Joint Standing Committee into the Liaison Committee, i.e. to unite the two bodies. Yet "the general feeling of the meeting" was against this proposal put forward by the International Federation of University Women, and the Joint Standing Committee continued independently.[29] In 1935 the merging of the two bodies was finally decided. At this point a renaming of the combined committee (with the Joint Standing Committee functioning as a "Sub-Committee") under the new title "Joint Committee of Women's International Organisations" was considered. Yet finally the two committees reconstituted themselves as one under the now shared name of Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations.[30]

3.The Emergence of the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations, and membership on the Committee.

   The formation of the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations in its specific future form was prefigured in a resolution adopted by the IAW Congress in June 1929. The resolution instructed the IAW representatives on the Joint Standing Committee "to bring before that Committee a proposal that its powers be extended to cover co-operation among its constituent bodies in work connected with the League of Nations besides that to which it is at present limited, namely the nomination of women to the Committees and other bodies of the League."[31] In 1929/1930 women's internationalist activism around official Geneva gained momentum (section 5). Women's organizations worked to pressure the first conference on the Codification of International Law held in spring 1930 under the auspices of the League of Nation at The Hague to include questions related to the nationality of married women in its agenda and requested to be heard at the Conference. The Joint Standing Committee which had worked relentlessly for the inclusion of women into the preparatory labours of the League for the Conference since its very beginnings now made every effort to ensure "the inclusion of women among the delegates." In March 1930 the ICW and the IAW held a "Joint Demonstration" and conference on the "Nationality of Married Women" in order to put pressure on the Codification Conference sitting at The Hague. A women's deputation finally was received to speak before the chairpersons of the committees (or the Conference Bureau) and later to the conference committee dealing with the nationality question. Yet in the end many activists and organizations regarded the related stipulations finally included into Chapter III of the Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, as utterly unsatisfactory and at least partly based on unacceptable principles (sections 4 and 5).[32] Less than two months after the conference at The Hague, the ICW on the occasion of its quinquennial meeting in Vienna adopted proposals aimed at closer and additional forms of collaboration among international women's organizations, namely a plan for co-operation with the IAW and another one on co-operation among the organizations represented on the Joint Standing Committee. These schemes, however, did not refer to establishing a new co-operation committee as would finally be established. [33] By August 1930 ICW President Lady Aberdeen had invited the organizations represented on the Joint Standing Committee to meet and confer on how to carry out the co-operation outlined in the Vienna decisions.[34] On 10 September 1930, the day of the opening of the League Assembly, a meeting was called by Aberdeen following the regular meeting of the Joint Standing Committee at Geneva. Those present at the meeting now discussed and amended a plan (expounded by the ICW representative) which inaugurated a new form of institutionalized co-operation that went beyond what the ICW had envisioned at its Vienna meeting. The World's Young Women's Christian Association "had had a somewhat similar plan in view." At the meeting a preamble intended to retain autonomy for participating organizations was added to the proposal. In its final version the plan adopted at Geneva forecast quite precisely the character of the future liaison committee in that it proposed a "small consultative committee of a permanent character" to which organizations who wished to engage the others in joint action could turn with their proposals. The scheme pointed to the "Joint Demonstration" organized by the ICW and the IAW at The Hague as an example. It distinguished between cases when a "rapid turn" in the international situation called for immediate action and cases which called "for more deliberation and for careful consultation between the organisations as to an agreed basis or common policy on which they could unite for the purpose in view."[35] The idea that for the time being the liaison committee could, in practice, remain closely related to, while organizationally clearly distinct from and not interfering with the work of the Joint Standing Committee was also part of the scheme. The "temporary Co-operation Committee," as the gathering was labelled by then, met for a second time on 12 September. It was "decided after some discussion that the name of the Committee should be 'Liaison Committee of the International Women's Organizations'." Present were representatives of the "Big Three" (with Corbett Ashby for the IAW), the World's Union of Women for International Concord, the World's Young Women's Christian Association (with Mary Dingman being present), and the International Federation of University Women. The temporary Liaison committee met again on 27 September. By early October, after the closing of the Assembly, Recording Secretary of the Joint Standing Committee Katharine Bompas (IAW) informed the members of the latter Committee that the scheme for the Liaison Committee "has been submitted to each of the organisations forming the Joint Standing Committee in order that they may decide whether they wish to join such a body." Bompas stressed that "[u]ntil their views are received, the Committee has of course no actual existence." At the same time, there was "one piece of work … undertaken" at the September meetings at Geneva: a draft of what was to become the 1931 "Appeal" for peace (supported by many organizations on the Liaison Committee) "from Women to the Statesmen of the World" was put forward by Clara Guthrie D'Arcis of the World's Union of Women for International Concord. The Appeal was presented, while the women's organizations conferred at Geneva, "personally to the President of the Assembly."[36]

   The temporary Liaison committee met again in London at the beginning of November, when it was decided to still keep the temporary character. At the next meeting in early December it was agreed to proceed to permanent organization of the Liaison Committee by February 1931, with the expectation that by then at least a majority of the constituting organizations, who were all members of the Joint Standing Committee, would have made final decisions about joining the new Committee. At the same time decisions about affiliation for organizations not members of the Joint Standing Committee — such as the International Council of Jewish Women — were postponed until after formal constitution of the Liaison Committee. In late 1930 there was tension regarding the role of the ICW in the new committee. ICW President Aberdeen claimed the liberty for the ICW "to invite other organisations in addition to those represented on the Joint Committee, to enter into co-operation," and tried hard — yet failed — to secure a special position for the ICW in the committee in other ways as well.[37] At a meeting on 12 February 1931 the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations was formally constituted. It was agreed that societies of women other than those forming the Joint Standing Committee would be eligible for admission if their "work … is truly international in scope and carried out by means of well-organised nations sections" as well as "in harmony with the general aims and purposes" of the Liaison Committee. Organizations "with a highly specialised or definitely limited object" would be invited to co-operate if their field of action was concerned. The delegates expressed their gratitude to Miss Bigland of the World's Union of Women for International Concord for her services to the temporary Liaison committee as an Honorary Secretary.[38]

   The mandate of the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations established in 1930/1931 was much broader as compared to the mandate of the Joint Standing Committee. The potential scope of "accepted project[s]" was defined in such a way as to enable the new committee "to deal with general questions arising in connection with the League of Nations." All organizations represented on the Joint Standing Committee except the International Council of Nurses, which by July 1931 had decided against membership, joined the Liaison Committee as well. Soon the Equal Rights International (ERI) and later the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance were added.[39] At one point no later than 1932 the International Federation of Women Magistrates, Barristers and other branches of the Legal Profession (later International Federation of Women Lawyers) had joined.[40] In 1935 the International Federation of Business and Professional Women was added.[41] By 1942 the International Co-operative Women's Guild finally was represented too.[42] In the later years of World War II former ERI President Helen Archdale figured as a "co-opted member" on the Committee, and three "Observer Societies" (World Bureau of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Associated Country Women of the World, and Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas) were added.[43]

   The Liaison Committee continued to exist for decades after the World War II and enjoyed consultative status with the United Nations from the late 1940s.[44]

4.The Emergence of the Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality, and membership on the Committee

   The third committee of interest, which came to be known as the Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality, was born to advise on a particular field of legal policies pursued by the League of Nations. The committee emerged in large part out of the dissatisfaction of many women's organizations with the results of the Codification Conference at The Hague in spring 1930 (sections 3 and 5). In the latter half of 1930 representatives of women's organizations launched a campaign urging the League of Nations to take up questions related to women's legal status as had been discussed at the Codification Conference. In January 1931 the Council of the League of Nations finally decided to place the "nationality of women" on the agenda of the League's Assembly in the next fall, adopting a resolution which had been introduced by the Peruvian, Guatemalan and Venezuelan representatives. The resolution called for the Secretary-General of the League to submit to the Assembly "after consultation" with nine women's organizations "which have been especially concerned with the nationality of women" a report on this matter; the resolution "authorized" the Secretary-General "if he thinks fit to request the ... organizations to set up a committee ... with the task of formulating joint proposals to be attached to the report to be submitted to the Assembly." Besides the "Big Three" three other women's organizations represented on the Joint Standing and Liaison Committees were invited, namely the World Women's Union for International Concord, the International Federation of University Women, and the World's Young Women's Christian Association. In addition, the Equal Rights International (ERI), the Inter-American Commission of Women (Comisión Interamericana de Mujeres, CIM) and the All-Asian Women's Conference were included in the Council's list.[45]

   As a result, on 17 March 1931 a conference convened in London under the auspices of the Liaison Committee to set up the future Consultative committee. For this meeting the International Co-operative Women's Guild was added to the invitees after the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, Sir Eric Drummond, had already communicated that he saw no objection. The representative of the World's Young Women's Christian Association now explained that their organization was not in a position to join the Consultative committee "on account of a very decided difference of opinion among their members" and the wish to concentrate on disarmament work. The London meeting also set up a "small drafting Committee" to "frame a rough draft memorandum" on the nationality of married women for consideration of all women's organizations involved.[46] In early May three of the four members of the committee had produced a "preliminary draft."[47] The Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality held its first formal meeting in July 1931 in Geneva. A report of the participating organizations on the nationality of married women was now sent to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations to be laid before the League Assembly alongside the official documents that would be submitted by governments. It was decided that a "Watching Committee" composed of one representative of each of the participating organizations would stay in Geneva until the Assembly of the League of Nations concluded its work on the nationality of women.[48] The Consultative Committee at this point consisted of the women's organizations originally invited by the League of Nations minus the World's Young Women's Christian Association and the International Co-operative Women's Guild, which had decided not to participate.[49] The Consultative Committee, which in official League of Nations documents was described in 1931 and 1932 as "Committee of Representatives of Women's International Organisations," never enjoyed official status with the League. Yet the League still treated it as a formal co-operating partner.[50] In 1933 the IAW and the International Federation of University Women withdrew (section 6).[51] By 1935 the World Union of Women for International Concord had quit as well and the Committee had assumed the title Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality created by the Council of the League of Nations.[52] By 1937 the appendix to the title had been dropped again, but the composition remained unchanged, with ICW, WILPF, ERI, ICM and the All-Asian Conference of Women forming the Consultative Committee.[53]

   I have no information as to the further fate of the Committee with its strong ties to the League of Nations in the period of the step-by-step erosion of the latter after the outbreak of World War II. Documentation on the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations suggests that the interest in the internationalization of the larger question of the status of women so characteristic for the work of the Consultative Committee (sections 6) occupied an important place in the wartime work of the Liaison Committee. Already in 1937, in a communication of the League of Nations, the original official title of the Consultative Committee, i.e. "Committee of Representatives of Women's International Organisations," was revived.[54]

5.The liaison committees and the changing landscape of international women's politics and organization around 1930

   The composition of both the Liaison Committee established in 1930/1931 and the Consultative Committee established in 1931 signified important changes in the landscape of women's international organization, co-operation, and politics. At the core of this change was the advancement internationally of feminist activism whose politics were based on a broad vision of legal equality between the sexes in all spheres of life. A particular group of feminists and organizations unconditionally prioritized this principle over any other consideration, including potential — and potentially counter-productive — class-, nationality-, citizenship- or race-related consequences of the unconditional implementation of legal equality between men and women. I will label this agenda as legal equality feminism in the following. To be sure, international women's organizations had long been pursuing the goal of unconditional legal equality in a number of fields; this was true especially for the suffrage work of the IAW.[55] Yet in the late 1920s and early 1930s legal equality feminists came to reconfigure and carry further related endeavours in three senses. Firstly, they generalized the legal equality principle so as to encompass, and to be prioritized over any other consideration in, all areas of women's politics. Secondly, activists belonging to the legal equality camp now established international organizations which were dedicated exclusively to implementing the legal equality principle. Thirdly, the organizations belonging to this group aimed to establish the legal equality principle in international policy documents and conventions with a view to influencing national politics everywhere in the world through the internationalization of the legal equality principle. Three new organizations were at the core of the related endeavours. The Inter-American Commission of Women (Comisión Interamericana de Mujeres, CIM) was created in 1928 by resolution of the Sixth Conference of American States in Havana; the Pan American Union, the core inter-state international organization of the Western Hemisphere originally was to appoint seven woman members to the CIM. The CIM proved instrumental in promoting the idea of international equal rights conventions in the years to come.[56] The second new international organization belonging to the legal equality camp, the Open Door International (ODI) was created in 1929 with the aim to work for legal equality between the sexes in international labour law; its special focus was on influencing and changing ILO policies accordingly, i.e. doing away with special labour protection for women.[57] The Equal Rights International (ERI) formed in 1930/1931, pursued an all-inclusive legal equality agenda with a focus on international equal rights treaties to be implemented by inter-state international organizations with a particular focus on the League of Nations.[58]

   This section describes how the liaison committees of women's international organizations at the beginning of the 1930s related to and reflected the emergence of a group of international women's organizations with an exclusive focus on legal equality. The advancement of international legal equality feminism as mirrored in the composition of the liaison committees contributed in turn to shaping the direction and substantive politics of the liaison committees (sections 6 and 7). Not the least through its involvement with the liaison committees, legal equality feminism played an important role in triggering changes in the character of women's internationalism of the period.

    The events at the beginning of the 1930s which resulted in strong representation of legal equality feminism on the liaison committees were informed by at least four political developments which stretched throughout the 1920s. The first of these contexts was the famous Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution introduced in the U.S. Congress in 1923. The Amendment had been written by Alice Paul of the National Woman's Party, and the group around Paul now began to work internationally for the principle proposed in the Amendment, namely that "equality of rights under the law … shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex" and for establishing and enforcing this principle by "appropriate legislation." A British advisory group to the National Woman's Party was soon established and celebrated as "the first national group of what is bound to become a world-wide Equal Rights Committee."[59] The politics with a focus on Geneva of promoting an international equal rights treaty would gain momentum from 1928 when the CIM was established.

   Secondly, it became clear by the middle of the 1920s that among the "Big Three" — i.e. ICW, IAW and WILPF — not even the IAW could be pressured to fully embrace a policy of legal equality as promoted by Paul and other legal equality feminists. The organization steered a middle course in the key controversy over labour legislation, construed by legal equality feminists as a controversy over special labour protection for (or more precisely: discriminating against) women versus strict legal equality. Among the constituency and leading activists in the IAW both positions were represented.[60] A first initiative of the National Woman's Party to clear the ground for the principle of legal equality in industrial relations at the IAW congress in Rome 1923 remained without visible results.[61] At its subsequent congress in 1926, the IAW, following the recommendation of its leadership, rejected the application for affiliation by the National Woman's Party. This caused frustration and upheaval among advocates of legal equality in the US, Great Britain and elsewhere, and controversy within the IAW. At the congress difference of opinion around the contentious issue of protective labour legislation with regard to pregnancy and maternity and the ILO conventions on night work and hazardous employment for women, led to open conflict and a "minority statement" in relation to the resolution on pregnancy and maternity.[62] In consequence of these developments backing for the IAW from some groups was weakened or withdrawn. The Six Point Group, an organization which stood for legal equality feminism in Great Britain and had been co-founded in 1921 by Helen Archdale, the later chair of ERI, for example, withdrew its application for affiliation with the IAW.[63] For legal equality feminists the events at the IAW congress of 1926 made clear they couldn't count on the IAW as an international women's organization to unconditionally promote legal equality positions with regard to labour legislation.

   A third point of reference for the drive towards internationalizing the politics of legal equality was official Geneva internationalism itself, which at some point was recognized as a genuine space of opportunity to promote and institutionalize a new politics of legal equality between the sexes. Within the Pan-American context Alice Paul and Doris Stevens had already in the late 1920s consciously embarked on a politics of utilizing what they — in a move typical for liberal-"idealist" internationalism — regarded as the ever-growing "power of international law as a tool of progressive reform" for achieving "domestic rights."[64] This approach was exemplified in a letter British feminist and co-founder of the Six Point Group Lady Rhondda wrote to Alice Paul three months after the éclat at the IAW Congress. Rhondda reported that while thus far she "had never got further in my thoughts than the idea" of attacking the ILO's policies of special labour protection for women she now finally realized "that of course it would be perfectly possible for the same League which passes Conventions placing legal disabilities on women's work to pass a Convention prohibiting the placing of legal disabilities on women's work. I can see the possibility of most valuable propaganda being done in the course of demanding such a Convention."[65] While this statement referred to international instruments aimed at guaranteeing legal equality between the sexes solely in the world of work it involved a more general application. Women's groups, it was implied, could and should turn official Geneva internationalism into an instrument of furthering the all-encompassing legal equality principle by way of international convention, and the latter in turn soon would compellingly influence domestic legislation everywhere in the world. In the self-representation of the ERI in later years Lady Rhondda's letter written in 1926 was indeed construed time and again as the document which had invented the idea of a general international equal rights treaty.[66] Member of the Six Point Group Vera Brittain similarly recalled that the "notion of tackling feminist problems by some kind of international machinery" had first been discussed amongst legal equality feminists on the occasion of the 1926 IAW Congress and then "developed in the creative, legalist mind of Miss Alice Paul into the idea of a comprehensive Treaty of Equal Rights for Men and Women."[67]

   Lady Rhondda's letter points directly to the fourth background issue for internationalizing legal equality politics, namely growing concern on behalf of legal equality feminists over the international labour policies pursued by the ILO. The legal equality camp was increasingly vocal about how the ILO had been transferring systematically the policy of special labour protection for women onto the international arena; [68] this concern would play an important role in the dynamics resulting in the alteration of the landscape of women's international organization, co-operation, and politics at the beginning of the 1930s and beyond.

   It was against this complex background that legal equality feminists after 1926 began to develop new strategies for internationalizing their agenda. A politics of approaching official international bodies in view of establishing internationally the legal equality principle gained momentum from 1928. One important line of action was pursued by the group around Alice Paul. Paul now publicized the idea of an international equal rights treaty conceived as the international counterpart to the Equal Rights Amendment and based on the idea that the ratifying states "agree that … men and women shall have equal rights throughout the territory subject to their respective jurisdictions." Upon instigation especially by the "Committee on International Action of the National Woman's Party" of Alice Paul, the 1928 Havana Conference of American States — which created the CIM — invited, with extra-official character representatives of various women's organizations, to address the Conference. At Havana, the group around Paul did everything it could to popularize the idea of the equal rights treaty.[69] A few years later the CIM would be instrumental in bringing about two Conventions concluded in 1933 at the Seventh International Conference of American States at Montevideo which were to play a key role in the politics of the women's liaison committees at Geneva. The first document, a convention on equal nationality, was signed originally by 19 American states; subsequently it was ratified by a number of states and therefore came into force. The second one, a general equal rights treaty, was signed by Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Cuba but never came into force.[70]

   Another important line of action aimed at establishing internationally the legal equality principle unfolded under the auspices of the British Open Door Council. Already upon formation in 1926 the Council (which was co-founded by Lady Rhondda) was driven by the "urgent" need to form "some International Group" after the 1926 IAW Congress had "left us without an International body equipped for dealing with the various attacks on women's right to work made by the International Labour Organisation."[71] From 1928 the Open Door Council developed a whole range of activities aimed at fighting the ILO's policies of special labour protection for women and in favour of the principle of equal pay internationally.[72] Already in Paris in 1926 at the time of the IAW congress, in the course of a series of meetings "with sympathisers from other countries," it had been resolved that "an International Committee should be formed with the object of the O.D.C. [Open Door Council] as its object."[73] Three years later, in June 1929, the Open Door Council called an international conference in Berlin (where another IAW congress would be held in the same month), the invitation deemed ILO politics "International Mass Production of Restrictive Legislation." At the conference the "Constitution" of the Open Door International (ODI) "was drawn up" and "a Manifesto and Woman Worker's Charter of Economic Rights adopted." The second National Branch to be recognized by the Board of Officers in 1930 had been formed in Germany under the leadership of Gertrud Baer.[74]At some point the National Woman's Party became the American representative of the ODI.[75] Chrystal Macmillan, who was also the chair of the nationality committee of the IAW, served as President of the ODI.[76]

   The foundation of the Equal Rights International (ERI) in 1930/1931 was, along similar lines, meant to establish an independent international organization deemed necessary in working and lobbying for a general equal rights treaty. The Constitution defined the (first) object of the ERI "to obtain the adoption of the Equal Rights Treaty by the nations of the world." The wording of the key clause of the proposed treaty was virtually identical with the wording of Alice Paul's treaty quoted above.[77] The intertwined dynamics leading to the formation of both the ERI and the Liaison Committee of International Women's Organisations were indicative for the process of how legal equality feminism gained ground internationally. From 1929 representatives of legal equality feminism with an agenda broader than fighting the ILO's "inequality conventions" embarked on a policy of pro-active lobbying at Geneva. In this year members of the Six Point Group travelled to Geneva at the time of the League Assembly to lobby for the equal rights treaty.[78] In spring 1929 representatives of CIM, ICW and IAW and the International Federation of University Women co-operated on the nationality issue "although disagreement about how exactly a new law should be worded flared up" already at this point (section 6).[79] In early September 1929 delegations of the IAW and the ICW met in order to come up with a final plan for an envisioned scheme of closer co-operation.[80] In February 1930 the CIM adopted a "Draft Convention to establish equality in nationality" and empowered its chairman Doris Stevens to present this Convention to the League's Codification Conference which was soon to assemble at The Hague.[81] Given the fact that the ICW clearly stood for a protective attitude to maternity and was open to a differentialist approach to a variety of other questions, these developments surely can be read as mirroring a deep cleavage among international women's activists concerning internationalizing legal equality feminism.

   Shortly after these events and developments, while the first Conference for the Codification of International Law (see sections 3 and 6), was sitting at The Hague, and after the "Joint Demonstration" of the ICW and the IAW on the nationality of married women had taken place, legal equality feminists embarked on closer international co-operation and a highly visible and pro-active politics of lobbying the Conference.[82] In this way the older international women's organizations — two years after the Havana campaign of the National Woman's Party and the establishment of the CIM — were confronted at The Hague in a most vivid manner with legal equality feminism, its drive for internationalization and the all-encompassing equal rights treaty. While in the first hearing before the Conference Bureau only representatives of the older international women's organizations were present, the IAW and ICW finally agreed to include Doris Stevens as a representative of the CIM when the women's organizations met the conference committee in charge of the nationality question on 1 April 1930. The ODI for its part belonged to the group of international and national organizations that had "specifically signified their support" for the joint action the ICW and the IAW had organized two weeks earlier.[83]

   After The Hague, i.e. beginning with April 1930, Helen Archdale (who was soon to become the chairman of the ERI) lobbied among equal rights feminists for "our big piece of work the getting of the Equal Rights Treaty adopted by the League of Nations" at its 11th Assembly in September 1930. Archdale also expressed her hope for the "new international Equality Group" to "be born soon."[84] It was at the beginning of this period between April and September 1930 that the ICW at its Vienna quinquennial adopted the scheme for closer co-operation with other international women's organizations (i.e. beyond the IAW) (section 3); the ICW executive body decided "to first approach those International Societies represented on the Joint Committee of Women's International Organizations"[85] — i.e. the Joint Standing Committee on which the emerging international legal equality organizations were not represented at all (section 2). The "Inaugural Meeting" of the "International Equal Rights Committee" or "World Equality Group" was held in Geneva on 9 September 1930, one day before the meeting called by ICW President Lady Aberdeen which would trigger the establishment of the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organizations and the opening of the Assembly of the League of Nations. At the ERI "Inaugural Meeting" Lady Rhondda was in the chair, Alice Paul and Dorothy Evans of the National Woman's Party present, and practical support of the Six Point Group announced. The "Need for Equal Rights Treaty," its "Chief Clause," and the organizational structure of the international committee were discussed. One idea was to compile a "List of Inequality Conventions" (of the ILO) "to combat the idea that E.R.T. is not a subject for League of Nations." The headquarters of the new group should be, it was suggested, at Geneva at "Assembly time," and a second meeting was to be held soon, i.e. during Assembly. After some discussion it was decided unanimously that the new group would carry the name ERI and Helen Archdale was elected provisional chairman.[86] A Memorandum was published pointing to the fact that a number of ILO Conventions "were written specially for women workers on the ground of their sex" and claiming: "International Rights can Replace International Discriminations."[87] By December 1930 a number of individual women from Australia, Great Britain (Rhondda), Holland, Italy, the United States (Paul), Cuba (Blanche Z. de Baralt), Austria, and Roumania (Marie Boscoff Zoty) were named as "Founder Members of Council."[88]

   Among those women who participated in the meetings held in Geneva between 9 and 12 September 1930 (the latter being the date when the second meeting to prepare the foundation of the Liaison Committee was held) — which brought on their way toward formal founding of the ERI and the Liaison Committee respectively, only one person none was present at both the ERI and the Liaison meetings, IAW President Margery Corbett Ashby. A couple of years earlier, when it was clear that she didn't want to see the National Woman's Party affiliated with the IAW, Corbett Ashby had stated that she hoped for "unofficial co-operation" in the future.[89] Most likely she was anxious to gather information and keep doors open in both directions at this point. The dividing line in terms of co-operative politics among women's organizations between the older women's organizations, including those with a strong focus on legal equality such as the IAW, on the one hand, and legal equality feminism on the other at this point had become manifest among the women active in Geneva. This became apparent in related public statements too. The ICW, for example, in its separate report about "Women’s Activities in Geneva in September, 1930" pointed out that these activities had been "more intensive than ever before" and made sure to clearly distinguish between "[a]ll the principal women's organisations" and their multiple, important, and closely interwoven activities on the one hand, and the CIM and the ERI on the other. The latter two organizations, it was reported, "took much trouble" to have their views on The Hague nationality convention adopted by delegations to the League's Assembly.[90]

   After the campaign directed at the League Assembly regarding women's nationality in autumn 1930 and before the Council of the League of Nations in January 1931 would decide to indeed include this item on the autumn 1931 agenda of the League's Assembly important figures in the ERI pressed internally toward forming a regular Executive Board as soon as possible so as to "have our Organisation properly formed in January."[91] The Council of the League in January 1931 had to deal with (at least) three different initiatives. There was a letter and memorandum submitted by a committee of six women's organizations, lead by Crystal Macmillan and including the "Big Three" as well as legal equality feminists, which requested that the nationality of women be put on the agenda of the next Assembly. There was the resolution introduced — obviously under the influence of Paul and the CIM — by South American Council members discussed above which demanded a committee of women's organizations be established to advise the League on women's nationality. This motion would trigger the formation of the Consultative Committee on Nationality (section 4); the resolution also demanded that the nationality of women should be included in the agenda of the 1931 Assembly. Last but not least, these two initiatives were surrounded by strong publicity and lobbying work emerging in the orbit of the nascent ERI in view of "getting the … treaty on the agenda of the Assembly of 1931."[92]

   In sum, legal equality feminism visibly gained ground internationally in the years around 1930 on three levels. Firstly, with ODI, ERI, and CIM, which all strongly focused on and were present at Geneva, new international organizations were established demanding unconditional and all-embracing legal equality of the sexes. Secondly, the newly internationalized legal equality feminism made its way into international co-operative organization among women's organizations. The establishment and composition of the Consultative Committee with the ERI and the CIM on board from the beginning clearly mirrored the inroads which the new international women's organizations with a focus on legal equality had made. The fact that the League installed a committee which included these new organizations was a result not simply of the campaign related to women's nationality and legal equality at The Hague and Geneva in 1930/1931 but of the pro-active support these organizations had been able to mobilize for their goals among Latin American states. The resolution introduced to the Council of the League of Nations by three Latin American governments put forward the list consisting of exactly those organizations which would form (with the exception of the World's Young Women's Christian Association which declined the invitation) the Consultative Committee. This development in turn paved the way for legal equality feminism intruding into the Liaison Committee too. In contrast to the Consultative Committee the latter was an independent co-operative body of women's international organizations with an open-ended scope of action which was to exist for decades to come. Following the decision of its leadership in September 1931, the ERI applied for and was soon granted membership in the Liaison Committee.[93] The ODI, with labour legislation being its "specialized object," stayed aloof. Yet the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance, which was admitted to the Liaison Committee in 1933, was a member of the ODI from the beginning until 1938. Upon affiliation the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance — an organization of Catholic women originating from Great Britain — claimed to have "a corresponding secretary and varying number of members in 17 different countries.[94]

   Thirdly, the rise internationally of legal equality feminism was to play a visible role in changing the dynamics of co-operation as well as the substantive co-operative politics of women's international organizations in relation to official Geneva internationalism. This in turn strongly contributed to triggering change within the gender politics of official Geneva internationalism.

6.Activities and development of the Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality

   In its early years the Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality which had come to life in 1931 to advise the League of Nations on the question of the nationality of women was riddled with conflict. The dividing line was between those organizations which were unconditionally dedicated to, or willing to accept, for various reasons, the foregrounding of the legal equality principle on the one hand and — in particular — the IAW and the International Federation of University Women on the other. Disagreement between these two camps arose around two major issues. The first issue concerned efforts on behalf of the organizations dedicated to the priority of the legal equality principle to use the Consultative Committee as a platform to promote the project of the equal rights treaty or a comparable international codification project.[95] The second source of conflict concerned the exclusive focus on equality of nationality rights for women and men as opposed to a standpoint — represented especially by the IAW and reflecting the viewpoint of Chrystal Macmillan — which aimed to combine the equality principle with additional principles which aimed at ensuring independence of citizenship and choice, i.e. two combined elements of individualization as opposed to legal equality alone.[96] In citizenship law an exclusive focus on legal equality indeed could combine — in principle — with the family unity principle. If international codification was to rule out such a combination it had to be based in or contribute to implementing, on top of the legal equality principle, the principle of independent citizenship rights for women together with protection against non-consensual change as (otherwise) might occur when clauses about changes in women's citizenship in national law (i.e. upon marriage to a foreigner or when during marriage citizenship of the husband was subject to change) came into play. Ultimately these additional principles of individualization (i.e. independent citizenship and consent) were as dear to the hearts of strict equal rights feminists as they were to Chrystal Macmillan (who herself was the President of the ODI) of the IAW. Yet the legal equality feminists represented on the Consultative Committee would staunchly resist to have these additional principles intermingled with the attempt to enshrine legal equality between women and men in international law; under all circumstances they would postpone demanding these elements of individualization until after the legal equality principle was firmly established internationally.

   The combination of the principle of legal equality and the individualization principle as advocated by the IAW and other women's organizations had been well captured already before the actual birth of the Consultative Committee in Recommendation VI included in the Final Act of the 1930 Codification Conference. This Recommendation invited the states to study the question "whether it would not be possible ... to introduce into their law the principle of the equality of the sexes in matters of nationality" and "to decide that in principle the nationality of the wife shall ... not be effected without her consent either by the mere fact of marriage or by any change in the nationality of her husband."[97] The IAW defined its policy as being based "on the principle of equality with independence" and considered this wording a "valuable ... basis of propaganda" and the temporary Liaison committee, in view of preparing for the 1931 Assembly, soon after the League Assembly of 1930 began to promote the Recommendation.[98]

   Yet as soon as the Consultative Committee took over in spring 1931 the divergent views of women's organizations about the right strategy for international codification of married women's citizenship were transferred into the now semi-official sphere of interaction between the women's organizations and the League of Nations. This was so because the Consultative Committee, which consisted of the women's organizations invited by the Secretary-General of the League, included besides the IAW and its followers a strong camp of organizations dedicated to the principle of strict legal equality. Already the first report to the League of Nations produced in 1931 was signed by the IAW and the International Federation of University Women only subject to a "reservation" which clarified that in the case of married women's nationality "safeguard[s]" were needed so ensure "that the equality asked for includes the right of a married woman to her independent nationality."[99] The 1931 Assembly of the League of Nations decided to postpone the discussion of the nationality question to 1932.[100] In the ensuing months the conflict within the Consultative Committee was further aggravated. In preparation for the 1932 Assembly two separate Reports, pointedly different in style, were submitted to the League, one signed by ICW, IAW, the International Federation of University Women and the World Union of Women for International Concord, the other one by the ERI, WILPF, the CIM and the All-Asian Conference of Women. Both reports urged the League of Nations to reconsider The Hague nationality convention before it would acquire a sufficient number of ratifications to come into force, and to more generally reconsider its nationality policy. Both groups argued that the "principle of equality should now be applied to international legislation," as the report submitted by ICW et.al. phrased it. Yet this report went on to underline that "the real question" was whether a woman should be treated as a "human being whose independence cannot be sacrificed," and argued in favour of the "right to liberty of all individuals"; the implied concept of individualization was framed in a gender-neutral and legal equality based manner, demanding for women as well as for men "the right to keep their nationality of origin" and to not have their nationality changed "except with their consent." The "real question" fleshed out in this report was completely absent from the report produced by ERI et. al. In turn the latter report made it much more explicit as compared to the one produced by ICW et.al. that the equality principle should be a general principle to be applied to all international legislation, i.e. it pointed more clearly to the need for general equal rights-based international codification. The League was lobbied to "ensure that all future codification of international law undertaken under [its] auspices ... shall be free from inequalities based on sex."[101] IAW President Corbett Ashby explained that from the point of view of the IAW (and by implication the Alliance's camp) one chief problem with the competing report produced by ERI et. al. was, once again, that it was without "safeguards" against legally enforced unity of the family and that it made "proposals on other subjects than nationality" such as "future conventions dealing with the status of women." The IAW declared itself against such proposals "tending to extend the scope" of the Consultative Committee.[102]

   The Consultative Committee addressed the Assembly of the League of Nations in each of the following years.[103] Yet the clash of 1932 had continuing consequences. The action of the Committee prompted harsh critiques from Princess Radziwill and other League officials.[104] In July 1933 the IAW and the International Federation of University Women resigned from the Committee. The Secretary-General as well as the Council of the League decided to formally and visibly loosen ties with the remainder Committee. When in January 1935 the Council of the League resolved that communications from women's organizations would be circulated to the Assembly — where the issues of nationality and of the status of women were on the agenda (section 7) — it was clarified that "statements" would be accepted "from the women's international organisations, or any committee of representatives of those organisations" on any of the two subjects. As a result statements from at least 12 organizations and committees of highly diverse stature and including the Consultative Committee and the Joint Standing Committee of Women's International Organisations were circulated.[105] The Consultative Committee had definitely lost at least some of the special status it had enjoyed until 1933.

   In the following years the truncated Consultative Committee, consisting of ERI, CIM, ICW, WILPF and the All-Asian Women's Conference, continued its work with a strong focus on the demands for equal nationality and more generally equal rights as to be enshrined in law by international codification.[106] In 1934 the Consultative Committee was instrumental in putting pressure — with reference of both Montevideo conventions (section 5) — on the League of Nations to put on the agenda of the 1935 Assembly once again the question of nationality of women and, importantly (section 7), the status of women more generally. A request to discuss the nationality issue was communicated to the League's Assembly in 1934 by Latin American and Eastern European delegations including the Soviet Union as well as states from the South. A second "request" to consider — "as an emergency matter" — "the whole critical situation affecting the position of women" and calling for "particular attention" to the Montevideo equal rights treaty was put forward by a number of Latin American delegations. Related documents were circulated to the Assembly in May 1935.[107]

   While this initiative was instrumental in triggering the broadening of the item put on the agenda of the 1935 League Assembly by adding the "status of women," the Consultative Committee continued to urge the League to ensure that international codification efforts under its auspices would be "free from inequalities based on sex." As to The Hague nationality convention it now asked "to delete or amend" those articles which were in conflict with the Montevideo nationality convention. As the 1935 Assembly was sitting at Geneva, the Consultative Committee did everything it could to get the League to address the nationality and the status of women questions from a legal equality angle.[108]

   With reference to its understanding that the 1936 Assembly of the League was to discuss the reform of the Covenant, the Consultative Committee requested to frame the expected changes to the Covenant in relation to the status of women in such a way as to ensure women's equality in relation to suffrage, nationality and "all other fields" and enhance women's representation in the League. After the Assembly had "not found it possible" to consider this request, a number of delegations to the Assembly officially demanded that the Consultative Committee's request be included "together with the whole question of the status of women" into the Assembly agenda for 1937.[109] As the Assembly approached, the Consultative Committee simply repeated its demands related to the Covenant.[110] At this point the Consultative Committee had replaced the demand for a separate equal rights treaty by the strategy of altering existing League provisions in such as way as to make them consistent with, and include explicitly, the legal equality principle. The 1937 Assembly decided to sponsor a comprehensive inquiry into the legal status of women all over the world — before dealing in substance with the issue of the status of women, that is. The inquiry would be conducted by a Committee of Experts (section 7).[111] By 1938 the Consultative Committee had decided "to work on the general question of the Status of Women,"[112] i.e. to actively contribute to the inquiry into the legal status of women as it was clear that the League would not embark on any equal rights policy before this study was concluded.

   In sum, the politics pursued by the Consultative Committee contributed to the broadening of the agenda of the League of Nations in relation to women beyond the nationality question, with the resulting exhaustive inquiry into the status of women being the most tangible result. At the same time it is uncertain whether or not, through a more united politics on the narrower question of nationality, the women's organizations lobbying official Geneva could have achieved more concrete results in terms of international codification of women's nationality.

7.Activities and functioning of the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations

   The Liaison Committee which had been established practically in tandem with the Consultative Committee on Nationality operated as an important instrument coordinating women's international politics for many years. It served as a political forum through which divergent political positions could be negotiated, accommodated and further developed, shared platforms on specific issues established, and joint or overlapping strategies developed. The new forum was also utilized to press for specific agendas both within the world of women's international organizations and in relation to the organizations' co-ordinated efforts to lobby official Geneva internationalism.

   The overall political history of the Liaison Committee has attracted less scholarly attention than the history of the Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality. This is probably due to the fact that the latter was a most visible link between women's international activism and official Geneva. Moreover, the Consultative Committee dealt with the nationality question as one substantive matter of gender politics which was at the core of the interaction between women's organizations and official Geneva in the early 1930s, and it was indeed instrumental in bringing about the engagement of the League with the larger issue of the "status of women." The Liaison Committee by contrast engaged with a plethora of divergent issues. This might be one reason why scholarship with a focus on specific dimensions of the political history of women's international activism has not developed an interest in the overall development of the Liaison Committee.

   The openness of the agenda of the Liaison Committee was based in a double definition of is scope of action and procedure. According to this definition the Liaison Committee had the "power to formulate plans for international action in support of any project that has been agreed upon by a majority of the member organizations." It was also clarified that no organization could be pressured to participate in any particular project.[113] After the amalgamation with the Joint Standing Committee in 1936 the object of the united Liaison Committee was defined in an even more open-ended and equally non-binding manner. The organization was to "serve as a medium of inter-communication and co-operation between the member organisations" and to "develop the influence of women in international affairs." Member organizations continued to have the right to disassociate themselves from any action or statement, and in such cases the Liaison Committee would not proceed in its own name but indicate the names of the co-operating societies alone.[114]

   On a few occasions the Liaison Committee itself endeavoured to give an overview of the work done over the years or in particular periods.[115] From an overview of the papers of the Liaison Committee preserved at the International Institute of Social History, the following summary picture emerges. Overarching activities of the Liaison Committee were aimed at establishing on the international level the broad principle of the "equal status of women," including activities around international labour policy. While in general terms the League of Nations was the primary focus of the related politics, the struggle against differential labour policies for women was directed at the ILO. At the same time labour policy as pursued by the Liaison Committee was in no way reduced to the "equality of status" principle as negotiated within the Liaison Committee alone.[116]

   In geopolitical terms the policies pursued by the Liaison Committee involved three basic, asymmetrically constructed focuses and in this way largely reproduced the geopolitics enshrined in official Geneva internationalism. As long as demands were couched in general terms, i.e. with no qualifications as to geography added, they more often than not implicitly focused on the Northern hemisphere, non-communist Europe and the West or Western civilization. In turn, when women and especially coloured women of the South were explicitly addressed it was implied that the subjects touched upon and the gender-specific policies suggested in the respective documents were of a more specific or else less general character. These fundamental biases notwithstanding, the Liaison Committee developed, in relation to both the League of Nations and the ILO, a significant focus on matters related to women and gender politics in "non-metropolitan" areas including colonized and mandate territories. These politics, while informed in part by the "equality of status" principle, went well beyond this interest in scope. They were variously couched as politics in relation to women of the "primitive races," "native races" or belonging to the "coloured peoples." Co-operation with women and women's organizations representing these groups remained marginal. The politics of the Liaison Committee in this area focused on issues such as slavery, bound labour, child marriage, traffic "in the East," and "native" welfare.

   A third — largely naturalized and therefore less tangible — basis of women's internationalism as represented on the Liaison Committee was liberalism. Key representatives of the Committee stood firm on the ground of liberal social theory with the related values considered unquestionable prerequisites of women's liberation. Feminism with explicit ties to the organized workers' movement was not visibly represented either on the Committee (despite a few efforts in this direction) or in its politics, while gender politics related to the Soviet Union were not an explicit interest of the Liaison Committee. Only against the background of the rise of authoritarianism did one of the key representatives of the Liaison Committee, Margery Corbett Ashby, highlight some of those mostly invisible assumptions on which women's liberation was to rest. The President of the IAW pointed out in 1934 that from her perspective the women's movement "had always stood for the value of the individual," and it had been able to concentrate its efforts on achieving for women "the same recognition as a man" for the one reason that it operated "in a state of society in which the individual counted." Consequently, the emergence of countries in which the "individual was coming to be considered as only of value as a cog in the wheel of an ageless state" potentially was to induce fundamental change in the direction of the women's movement. Under such changing circumstances, so Corbett Ashby wondered, wasn't the women's movement to take "the lead in the fight against reaction with its loss of individual liberty?"[117] Corbett Ashby, in other words, suggested that a gender-only policy such as pursued by the Liaison Committee was a viable option only under certain circumstances (and by implication precluded other dimensions of change), and that certain circumstances could lead women's politics to include dimensions other than gender into its scope of action.

    After the Nazi regime had come to power in Germany the refugee question was increasingly addressed by the Liaison Committee. A Special Committee for aid to Refugees established in 1933 in Geneva reported to the Liaison Committee occasionally. By 1942 the Liaison Committee took a public and united stand against "the inhuman treatment of helpless populations ... as the organised policy of governments," mentioning "barbaric practices" such as "internment in concentration camps, segregations in ghettos" and "religious and racial persecution."[118]

   An important focus of work pursued by member organizations of the Liaison Committee from the very beginning was the issue of disarmament and peace. Work on this issue was begun by the Joint Standing Committee in the late 1920s in conjunction with the League of Nations' initiative for an international Disarmament Conference which lasted from early 1932 to 1937, with interruptions. Peace and disarmament work as a never fully consensual yet at the same time weighty issue was relegated into sub-committees or semi-independent entities. In 1931 a separate Disarmament Committee (from 1935 Peace and Disarmament Committee of the Women's International Organisations) was formally established. [119] Not all organizations affiliated with the Liaison Committee were represented on the Disarmament Committee while the latter soon included additional members not affiliated with in the Liaison Committee. It was decided that the Disarmament Committee would be free in devising its policies and action, although the Liaison Committee was to hear reports about these activities. Yet the tensions around disarmament within the Liaison Committee were only appeased by these measures. In 1936 those members of the Liaison Committee who included peace on their program were urged by the Liaison Committee to adhere to the International Peace Campaign and some did so.[120] In 1938 the Peace and Disarmament Committee prepared for a women's peace congress planned for 1939 in New York. After the outbreak of the World War a representative of the Peace and Disarmament Committee on several occasions was present as an observer at meetings of the Liaison Committee.

   The work on various aspects of social and welfare policy broadly conceived accompanied the Liaison Committee all the way along. One important focus was matters related to traffic in women and child welfare. Both of these fields provided a focus of League of Nations' activities in the broad area of social politics. In this area the League worked closely with woman experts, many of whom were active in the women's movement; in addition, the related League bodies actively sought co-operation with international women's organizations.[121] Issues such as infant mortality or alcoholism, opium traffic, and penal reform were also dealt with by both the League and the Liaison Committee. Occasionally, the Liaison Committee engaged with educational matters and minority protection, and at one point with famine in the Soviet Ukraine, and of course it focused systematically on the appointment of women on committees and bodies of or connected to the League after amalgamation with the Joint Standing Committee.

   The Liaison Committee also dealt with questions related to the desired formal structure of co-operation between international women's organizations and official Geneva internationalism. As for the forms of co-operation with the League of Nations an important strategic decision was taken in 1932. The related argument prefigured the notable controversy over the establishment of a special women's commission at the United Nations.[122] Upon initiative of the Spanish delegation the League Assembly in 1931 (which originally was to discuss the nationality of women but then postponed it) instructed the League Council "to examine the possibility of increasing the collaboration of women in the work of the League." Secretary-General of the League Sir Eric Drummond in November 1931 issued a related memorandum addressing the matter. In February 1932 ERI in response submitted the proposal for its equal rights treaty to the "drafting committee" of the Liaison Committee. ERI leaders considered the equal rights treaty the only worthwhile path for international gender politics; still, they supported collaboration between women's organizations and the League as a "temporary" measure, To this end, they suggested a "closer official connection with the league," for example via "possible reorganization of the constitution" of the Liaison and/or the Consultative Committees. This proposition implicitly called for creating an official women's commission with a general mandate to the League of Nations.[123] The double-move of the ERI caused considerable anxiety and debates within the Liaison Committee, and alternative drafts were produced.[124] The IAW firmly declared itself against setting up a general women's "Advisory Committee" to the League of Nations as this would be in "contradiction of the principle of the equality of the sexes as laid down in the constitution of the League itself"[125] — without of course alternatively aligning itself to the equal rights treaty as the right path to push for women's (more) equal representation within the League. By March 1932 the Liaison Committee had decided to send a letter to Sir Eric Drummond declaring that within the Committee "it appears that opinion is unanimously opposed to the formation of official women's committees under the League of Nations and in favour of a fuller infusion of women into the work of the League of Nations on the same terms as men." The ERI immediately protested the fact that it had been mentioned in the letter.[126] The final memorandum sent to the Secretary-General fully developed this position. The fundamental cause of the lack of collaboration, so the argument went, was the ongoing inequality of women in society and law all over the world. The document also included various practical suggestions for developing more intense co-operation. The memorandum was positively received at the League and the Liaison Committee now came up with a draft resolution for the League which outlined means of enhancing the representation of women on various levels and in various bodies in the League. The text was "unanimously" adopted, while Helen Archdale on behalf of the ERI instantly "intimated that her organisation would continue to press for an Equal Rights Convention."[127]

   Last not least, this insistence on the internationalization of legal equality politics broadly conceived points to one core dimension of the politics of the Liaison Committee which exemplifies major general features of its history. Action and debate related to future general international instruments aimed at ensuring legal "equality" and later the "equal status" between men and women formed part of the work of the Liaison Committee all the way along, once the ERI had joined the Committee. After the initial mix-up between the struggle for enhancing or creating new forms of co-operation between women and the League of Nations with the politics of pressing for an international equal rights convention, the ERI worked continuously within the Liaison Committee for the treaty idea. After a number of Latin American states in 1933 had signed the Montevideo equal rights convention, the ERI urged the representatives of the Liaison Committee to take related action with regard to their own governments and to endorse and lobby for the Montevideo convention at Geneva. Yet the Liaison Committee at this point proved hesitant.[128] Upon instigation of the ERI the Liaison Committee in 1934 also engaged with the initiative for an international convention on the "Rights of Man"; in this effort the Liaison Committee joined in the ERI's endeavour to ensure that the term "sex" would be included into any related clause which would warrant these rights "without distinction of birth, nationality," etc.[129] After the 1934 League Assembly had resolved that the League should urgently consider the "critical situation" of women (section 6), the Liaison Committee worked for its own proposal to the League for an international "Status of Women" convention "based on the principle of equality of right for both sexes." The "Draft International Convention on the Status of Women agreed to by most of the member organisations" in February 1935 asked for "equal legal and juridical status and equal rights and responsibilities of citizenship to men and women, whether married or unmarried." From this point onward many organizations on the Committee were involved in this renewed effort to bring about more substantial and more general engagement of the League with promoting the equal status of women.[130] In this way the vision of enshrining on a general level legal equality in international law and politics, which had been at the core of the idea of the equal rights treaty, was incorporated in and strongly informed the initiatives around the "status of women" as they moved to the core of the engagement of women's organizations with the League from the middle of the 1930s.[131] Among the members of the Liaison Committee besides WILPF the World's Young Women's Christian Association dissociated itself from the plan of a "Status of Woman Convention." The World's Young Women's Christian Association argued that this type of an "Equal Rights Treaty would open the door to the abrogation of protective legislation for women."[132]

   The 1935 Assembly of the League of Nations destroyed hopes for the immediate adoption of a "Status of Women" Convention. The Assembly, which had received detailed information, data, and demands from many different international women's organizations and committees passed a resolution instead which requested governments and the international women's organizations to further study and consider the civil and political status of women.[133] The Liaison Committee in response pursued various initiatives to further such inquiry. When "a joint demonstration regarding the status of women" was planned for Assembly time in 1937 the World's Young Women's Christian Association again refrained from participation because it "had been against a general convention in 1935 and saw no reason to change its policy."[134] The 1937 League Assembly resolved that a study on the "legal status enjoyed by women in the various countries of the world" was to be conducted under the direction of a Committee of Experts which would have the power to invite the collaboration of women's organizations.[135] The Liaison Committee reacted immediately with a view to get women's interests represented on the Committee of Experts, and amiably minded women, three of them suggested by the Liaison Committee, were indeed appointed. The Liaison Committee resolved to assign the position of a "Liaison Officer" in charge of the contact with the Committee of Experts to IAW President Margery Corbett Ashby.[136] Initially it was also hoped that the international women's organizations would — besides submitting information to and engaging in informal interaction with the Expert Committee — be given some status in the deliberations of the Experts. Yet in reality all women's organizations, i.e. including those who were not members of the Liaison Committee, were excluded from the regular sessions of the Committee of Experts throughout the period of inquiry as it had been decided at the outset that the "meetings of the Committee were held in private according to general custom." The women's organizations, including those belonging to the Liaison Committee and others, would be allotted special space to present their demands and findings at a few "public" sessions. In the meantime they closely collaborated with the women on the Committee and were to experience that "the Chairman" — i.e. "our staunch friend" Kerstin Hesselgren — "and members were most cordial in accepting the lunches, teas and dinners at which they could get into touch with members of the women's organisations."[137]

   In terms of scope of the inquiry the Liaison Committee tried hard to press the Experts to be as inclusive as possible. Besides the (contentious) issue of whether or not the inquiry was to deal with the application of law as well, this meant, firstly, that the Liaison Committee initially wished to include the whole question of women's work or, more precisely, the "right to engage in paid work." Yet an engagement with labour law — beyond the question of the right of women to enter white collar work — was soon ruled out, as the ILO had already agreed to conduct a parallel large-scale inquiry into this matter.[138] Secondly, the Liaison Committee (despite some internal disagreement) took a firm stand regarding the inclusion, beyond European legal systems "and systems based on them," of "such systems as Muslim and native or tribal law which obtained over wide areas." In particular it wished to see information on "native women" in colonies and mandated territories included and engaged in generating, collecting and presenting related material. More than any other member organization, the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance was instrumental in this regard, and by 1937 it had compiled and submitted to the League an extensive report on "the Status of the Women of Native Races." In later years to it pressed within the Liaison Committee for the "study of the legal status of women of primitive races." At a public meeting of the Committee of Experts in January 1939 some women's organizations urged to include "the regulations elaborated by the colonial administrations for the coloured populations." As representative of the ERI Louise van Eeghen declared herself against studying "native custom and laws." The ERI evidently wished to expedite the inquiry in order to get the League back as quickly as possible to the all-encompassing equality of status convention. While "from the humanitarian point of view" the ERI spokesperson shared the opinion of the representatives of the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance and of the International Co-operative Women's Guild — represented on this occasion by Margery Corbett Ashby — she still wished to sidestep such inquiry because it "would delay the publication of a report which needs to be published as soon as possible." The Experts in the end rejected the idea to include the status of women of the "primitive races" or women under "Mohamedan" and "Hindu" and other non-European law into the inquiry. After this decision the Liaison Committee laboured diligently for committing the League of Nations to a separate study of this question.[139]

   After the outbreak of World War II, the Liaison Committee at first continued to work for the "Status of Women" inquiry.[140] From 1942 onwards the Committee focused on clearing the ground for a politics focusing on the equality of status for women and men in the post-War "reconstruction" era. The related activities were quite impressive in scope considering that they had to be conducted under war-time conditions. As compared to the 1930s there was less visible conflict and definitely more compromise around international politics aimed at legal equality between women and men and as a consequence demonstrative unity. Additional organizations, such as the International Co-operative Women's Guild, were involved and its demands for equal status for housewives and acknowledgement for their work included. After a conference convened by the Liaison Committee on "The Status of Women in the Post-War World" in London in March 1943 — which was later described as the "London International Assembly" — the Committee laid down "general principles on which there was agreement at the international discussion meetings." It was declared that the international "community" of the post-War period "when laying down plans for the new world we all hope to see when fighting has ceased and the work of reconstruction has begun ... should recognise" these principles." As to "nationality" rights, the divisive issue of individualization (section 6) was avoided. As to labour protection there was agreement on equal right to work, but also on "adequate provision against sickness, unemployment and old age for all citizens" and "maternity allowance…for a certain number of weeks before and after child-birth."[141] The pro-active stance for social provision broadly conceived was a remarkable step as compared to the profile of the Liaison Committee in the 1930s. In addition the Committee made clear that women of all countries, i.e. including those of the "Axis"-countries, should be actively involved in "reconstruction."[142] In April 1943 the Committee adopted a resolution urging its "national constituents, to redouble their efforts ... to make the status of women a vital political issue" and "to press for the full representation of women ... in all national and international bodies set up for the planning and organisation of post-war reconstruction."[143]

   The resolution referred to the results of an initiative which had been carried out in 1942 and 1943 by two (unnamed) member organizations of the Liaison Committee. These had asked "representatives of 39 Allied and Neutral countries ... to receive deputations" which wished to inquire about the position of the respective countries in relation to "equality of status" for women and men. Some deputations were sympathetically received.[144] According to the resolution the latter initiative had demonstrated that while "there is little actual hostility to the principle of equality of status of women ... there is ignorance of the facts as regards the status of women" and "lack of understanding of women's demands" for example related to the problem of "the exclusion of women in the planning and organisation of post-war reconstruction."[145]

   And this was a problem indeed. Once key representatives of the emerging post-war "international community" met at Dumbarton Oaks to lay down cornerstones of the international core institutions of the post-War period, the continued institutional distance and discrepancy in status between the women's "London International Assembly" of 1943 and the male-dominated official world of internationalism was once again strikingly noticeable for the women. The Liaison Committee was again reduced to discussing the documents produced by the men at Dumbarton Oaks, which did not contain any clause on the (equal) status of women and men.[146] The Committee started to prepare for the United Nations Conference on International Organization held at San Francisco between April and June 1945 in just the same fashion as it had done throughout the interwar period when it time and again reacted to and tried to influence developments within official Geneva internationalism.[147] And yet, not the least in response to women's pressure, the San Francisco Conference would bring about the long sought-after enshrining of "equal rights of men and women" in the Preamble of an emerging core-document of international law, the Charter of the United Nations; this clause was accompanied by a second one contained in Article 1 and declaring that "human rights and … fundamental freedoms" were to be guaranteed "for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."[148] The Liaison Committee had addressed the chairman of the San Francisco Conference with the demand that the Charter of the future League of Nations should ensure "to every citizen irrespective of sex, social standing, creed, race and birth," among a number of other rights and freedoms, "equality before the law." It also wished to as an organization be made into an official organ of the United Nations.[149]

8.Summary and Conclusions

   In the period between the 1920s and 1945 institutionalized inter-organizational interaction — in other words: liaison — was an important feature of the activities of women's organizations represented on the liaison committees dealt with in this study.[150] The work of these committees was characterized by a strong focus on official Geneva. Activities related to official Geneva eclipsed other fields of action even in the case of the Liaison Committee which — as the only one among the three committees — had not been established with a mandate to pursue this type of work alone. Both the Joint Standing Committee and the Liaison Committee had been established upon initiative of women's organizations alone and as a result added an additional layer of infrastructure to women's internationalism. By contrast, the Consultative Committee was born as a result of an initiative of the League of Nations and enjoyed some informal status with the League; however after a short time the League didn't consider this Committee a priority partner any longer, and this was so even with regard to the purpose for which it had been established originally, the question of women's nationality.

   The establishment of a special women's commission to the League of Nations with a general mandate was not supported by the majority of the international women's organizations in the early 1930s with the Liaison Committee strongly representing this position. This was so not only because it rejected of the idea of a "special," separate body representing women as opposed to enhanced overall representation of women within the institutions of official Geneva. In a period characterized by important political shifts in the landscape of women's internationalism, and the notable ascent of internationally organized legal equality feminism, rivalry among women's organizations about the composition of such a body and anxiety about the potential monopoly of a women's commission in shaping future women's politics of official Geneva played an important role. Dissent between the Consultative and the Liaison Committee on separate women's commission was rooted in these tensions.

   The character of the activities directed at the League of Nations and the ILO and of co-operation with these bodies was in no way uniform across the three committees. The Joint Standing Committee largely restricted itself to activities aimed at securing the appointment of women to the various bodies of the League and the ILO. This work was conducted in a highly formalized and systematic manner, and the Committee successfully presented its activities as a non-partisan — except for being pro-women — as well as non-political and professional service for official Geneva. Only very cautiously did the Joint Standing Committee contribute to some of the more general activities aimed at enhancing the representation of women within the world of official Geneva, i.e. as long as these could be considered as falling into its mandate.

   Among the three committees the Consultative Committee certainly took on the most activist and combative attitude and mobilized, in a more visible and confrontational manner than the Liaison Committee would ever manage or wish to do, support from within official Geneva, namely by representatives of Latin American and at times other states. In this way the Consultative Committee repeatedly managed to mobilize the League Assembly for its demands and initiatives, as a result of which the League could not but take some course of action. At the core of the Consultative Committee's initiatives directed at the League was the endeavor to bring about the internationalization of legal equality or equality of status politics. Yet in the course of less than a decade it became abundantly clear that it was one thing to successfully urge the Assembly to adopt some resolution aimed at including issues related to women and gender into the agenda of the League (Assembly), and quite another thing to get the League embark on substantial action, or a change of direction, regarding its overall women's politics.[151]

   In the meantime the Liaison Committee persistently engaged with manifold concrete issues pursued by the League and the ILO. In this way its overall agenda was strongly shaped by the rhythm of official Geneva politics. In a number of fields and regarding a number of concrete issues, the Committee quite successfully contributed to altering policy scripts devised by official Geneva.[152] Importantly, the rhythm of official Geneva impacting on the Liaison Committee included the League's various responses to those pressures which the allies of the Consultative Committee and to an extent the Consultative Committee itself put on official Geneva. Over the years the Liaison Committee, as it received these impulses, devoted considerable energy to reacting to the League's action triggered by these inputs from the sister committee and its allies.

   If the internationalization and (re-)focusing on Geneva of a rather combative, politically and strategically rigid legal equality feminism in the years around 1930 had initially provoked much anxiety among older international women's organizations, by the middle of the 1930s Geneva-oriented women's internationalism had accommodated and productively digested the challenge. In 1919 the enshrining in international law of women's access to the new international inter-state organizations in terms of securing their appointability on all levels had been a priority of women's international organizations. In the 1920s women's politics in relation to official Geneva were often reactive, sometimes scattered, and always specifically targeted. At last, triggered by the upheaval around nationality and legal equality around 1930, during the following decade these inherited strategies were complemented by a more pronounced and generalizing vision of instilling women's interests and demands into the new international world of Geneva. During World War II, when in response to the demise of the League the Consultative Committee was no longer visibly active, the Liaison Committee continued to pursue the related politics in a pro-active manner and increasingly with a view to affect post-war "reconstruction."

   The changes in the international landscape of organized women's internationalism, triggered or at least accelerated by the rise of legal equality feminism and the ensuing broadening of the scope of women's collaborative politics at Geneva, amounted to an expansion of women's organizations' internationalist claims highly visible at the time and historically relevant well beyond the pre-1945 period. What was at stake was the inclusion of gender as a visible and all-encompassing category in international politics, international conventions, and international law. The new politics originally had been devised especially by CIM and ERI and later was adapted to fit somewhat broader purposes of internationalizing equality of status politics in all or most spheres of life. After the ERI and other organizations belonging to the legal equality camp had gained access to the new liaison committees of women's international organizations at the beginning of the 1930s the Liaison and the Consultative Committees played an important role in bringing about this change. Most of the organizations represented on the Liaison Committee willingly contributed to these new, broader initiatives to bring about change in the international gender order. In other words, after the initial clash within the Consultative Committee on the new international politics on women's nationality in the early 1930s, the Liaison and the Consultative Committees soon worked in tandem for a new international women's politics based in the generalized equality credo, even if uneasiness as to each others' style and strategies occasionally continued to flare up. Even the Joint Standing Committee, with its politics of getting women formally involved with the policy developed by official Geneva, made a tangible contribution to this larger project.

   In the end the vision which was at the core of these politics was indeed enshrined into the Charter of the United Nations: as an international guarantee (on the general level) of "equal rights of men and women" and (on a more particular level) of "human rights," warranted to each individual "without distinction as to … sex." This terminology was carefully chosen and fit well with the legalist approach aimed at "identical laws" for men and women as a concept that had blossomed in the 1930s, and the focus on individualization strongly represented in women's internationalism and the liaison committees of the period.[153] These concepts were rooted in a liberal world view which attached great hopes to the internationalism embodied by official Geneva. Even the struggle on the nationality question in the early 1930s was more about the strategic question of prioritizing legal equality over individualization as opposed to combining the two at once than about the principles of legal equality and individualization as such.

   The new equality of status politics, which formed an important focus of the liaison committees' activities in the second half of the 1930s, and the later formulas of the UN Charter were certainly based in broader concepts and ideas as compared to the strict legal equality feminism which in the late 1920s and early 1930s had been instrumental in bringing about change. And yet, it is important to note that these demands and politics continued to be based in the foundational principles of legal equality feminism as embodied by ERI, CIM and ODI which were supported by key figures within the IAW and other women's organizations. Politics based on the principle of legal equality, which prioritized legal gender equality over any potential gain that women might enjoy on the grounds of differential legislation, historically has contributed to reifying or even deepening other, for example class- or race-based, inequalities. Such a politics at best did not challenge, but silently tolerated other inequalities and discriminations. The self-positioning of women's internationalism at Geneva was one factor that contributed to the estrangement between this internationalism and women's organizations identifying with the organized workers' movement, Black internationalism or anti-imperialism.[154]

   It needs to be underlined in connection with this narrative that differential legislation for women continued to raise another set of serious political problems. And yet the developments at Geneva from the beginning of the 1930s onwards contributed to the rise of an international gender order in which the legal equality principle normatively was to play an increasingly important role. This was true even as the struggle over the legal equality principle continued under the umbrella of the United Nations, for example when the "feminists on the Status of Women Commission tried to steer a path between women on the left who adhered to the ILO position that women (and children) needed special protection and those like Eleanor Roosevelt, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, who 'was against any special mentioning of women' at all."[155]

   Finally, the long-term contribution of women's internationalism with a focus on Geneva to the changing international gender order needs to be read against one more key context—the historically changing relationship between international politics and international law on the one hand and domestic legal norms and realities as relating to and applying these international norms on the other. In line with the "idealist" perspective on international relations woman internationalists at Geneva firstly hoped that international legal equality guidelines or conventions, even if formally not binding, would soon have a strong effect on legislation and by implication legal and social practice within states. Secondly, many hoped — notwithstanding the unequal positioning of women's organizations in relation to official Geneva —that persistent lobbying of non-state organizations could and would bring about pervasive change in the international order. Yet down to the present day these expectations have been very partially fulfilled at best. While (what in the interwar period was termed) "international machinery" has continuously gained in political weight and importance, its impact on women's lives all over the world has remained both limited and ambiguous. It might, therefore, be more productive and more adequate if we look at women's internationalism and the liaison committees of the pre-1945 period operating from London and Geneva as contributing to important transformations of the international gender order (and to an extent its domestic counterparts) rather than fundamentally challenging inequalities deeply ingrained in this order.

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Notes

[1] The second function was fulfilled in the period not only by the liaison committees among women's organizations but also by committees installed by individual women's organizations such as the International Council of Women (ICW). The ICW's "Liaison Committee" with the League of Nations and the International Labour Office was created in parallel with the Joint Standing Committee, after the ICW's quinquennial meeting in 1925. This Committee met annually in the weeks before the opening of the Assembly of the League of Nations, with the meetings attended (at least in the second half of the 1920s) by woman officials of the ILO and the League of Nations. Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin (eds.), Women and Social Movements, International. 1840 to Present (Alexander Street Press. Electronic edition of sources, accessed through Central European University Library, March — August 2011) (hereafter: WASMI): ICW. Report on the Quinquennial Meeting, Vienna 1930, edited by the Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, President of the I.C.W. (Keighley, Yorks: ICW, s.a.), 44, 447f.

[2] When writing about women's internationalism and international women's organizations I focus on this group of organizations alone. Other essays in this collection focus on what generally is framed as "regional" internationalisms (a distorted framing as I will argue in section 7) and the internationalism of women's organizations identifying with the organized labor movement.

[3] This term had been in use already at the beginning of the 20th century when those who aimed to promote a higher degree of internationalization and a new "spirit of Internationalism" (as would later be embodied by the League of Nations) within the ICW campaigned for "the organization of Coöperative Committees on Internationalism" which were to operate as an institutionalized platform which would bring together leading representatives of the work on a particular theme within the different National Councils. Landesarchiv Berlin, Helene Lange Archiv. Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine B 235.01: ICW. Memorandum to the Presidents of the National Councils 1902, 7f.; ICW. Report of Transactions During the Third Quinquennial Term Terminating with the Third Quinquennial Meeting held in Berlin, June, 1904 (Boston: n.p. 1909), 87ff.

[4] Bob Reinalda, Routledge History of International Organizations. From 1815 to the Present Day (London: Routledge, 2009), parts VI and VII, gives a reliable account which however, like so many other overviews, suffers from neglect of the imperial dimension of the history of international organizations. As for the ILO it is to be noted that this was not strictly speaking an inter-state organization as workers' and employers' organizations were represented, too. Reliable research on the ILO is published in Jasmien Van Daele, Magaly Rodriguez Garcia, Geert Van Goethem, Marcel van der Linden, eds., ILO Histories. Essays on the International Labour Organization and its Impact on the World During the Twentieth Century (Berne: Peter Lang, 2010).

[5] Related perspectives inform considerable scholarship to the present day. An example is Akira Iriye, Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World (Berkeley: Unicversity of California Press, 2002). Balakrishnan Rajagopal, International Law from Below. Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), can be read as a sustained critique. An informed introduction into basics and complexities of the ideas informing "idealism" is Lucien M. Ashworth, "Where are the Idealists in Interwar International Relations?" Review of International Studies, 32 (2006), 291-308.

[6] The author of this report was the Dutch Louise van Eeghen, Corresponding Secretary of the ICW and designated ICW Representative at Geneva. WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, IX, 1, 3, 447-42.

[7] This was stated in the report of the International Secretary, Mary Sheepshanks, WASMI: WILPF. Report of the Sixth Conference of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Prague August 24th to 28th, 1929, 149ff.

[8] The United Nations Office at Geneva. Library/Archives, http://www.unog.ch/80256ee60057d930/%28httppages%29/8c989922e1dbc95980256ef8005048ca?opendocument, 05/06/2011.

[9] Karen Offen, European Feminisms, 1700-1950, A Political History (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2000), ch. 12, gives a careful summary account of achievements and the limits of women's internationalized activism at Geneva. Susan Pedersen, "Metaphors of the Schoolroom: Women Working the Mandates System of the League of Nations," History Workshop Journal 66 (2008), 188-207, discusses the involvement of women with the Mandate Commission.

[10] Beatrice McKenzie, "The Power of International Positioning: The National Woman's Party, International Law and Diplomacy, 1928—34," Gender and History, 23:1 (2011), 130-46, describes in detail how Alice Paul and Dorothy Stevens from the National Woman's Party carefully and systematically built their activities aimed at internationalizing equal rights policies in co-operation with international lawyers and politicians, by developing their own formal education as well as diplomatic skills.

[11] International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations Archives 1926-1977 (hereafter: IISH-LC) Box 1: Protocol 07/07/1925; Protocol 18/03/1927 Attachment Report Joint Standing Committee (incl. quote).

[12] Article 7, Covenant of the League of Nations, 11/06/2011.

[13] Articles 389, 395, Peace Treaty of Versailles, http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/versa/versa12.html, 11/06/2011. The Constitution of the ILO was contained in each of the Peace Treaties concluded at Paris, though with different numbering of the articles that comprised the section on "Labour".

[14] I take the term "peacemakers" from the title of Margaret Macmillan, Peacemakers. Six Months that Changed the World: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War (New York: Random House, 2001). Katarina Leppänen, "The Conflicting Interests of Women's Organizations and the League of Nations on the Question of Married Women's Nationality in the 1930s," Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 17:4 (2009), 240-255, 240f.; An Experiment in Co-Operation. The History of the Liaison Committee of Women’s International Organisations; Margery Corbett Ashby, Memoirs of Dame Margery Corbett Ashby. With Additional Material by Michael Ashby (Horsted Keynes: M.G. Ashby, 1996), 103ff.

[15] The Alliance was renamed International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship in 1926.

[16] ICW. Combined First and Second Annual Report of the Seventh Quinquennial Period (1920-1922) (s.l.: ICW, s.a.), 230.

[17] IAW. Report of Ninth Congress, Rome, Italy, May 12th to 19th 1923 (Dresden: B.G. Teubner, 1923), 77.

[18] Leila Rupp, Worlds of Women. The Making of the International Women's Movement (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997), 147, uses the term "Big Three."

[19] IISH-LC Box 1: Report Joint Standing Committee, attached to Protocol 18/03/1927 (incl. quote from the ICW resolution); Protocol 07/07/1925.

[20] I have corrected the name of both expert committees. IISH-LC Box 1: Protocol 18/03/1927 Attachment Report Joint Standing Committee (incl. quote about "anything"); Protocols 07/07/1925; 01/10/1925; 29/01/1926. For the Slavery Commission see Suzanne Miers, Slavery in the Twentieth Century: The Evolution of a Global Problem (Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2003), 102-15 (incl. quote on "end"). For the Codification Committee see International Law Commission, http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/ilcintro.htm, 18/06/2011.

[21] IISH-LC Box 1: Protocols 01/10/1925; 29/01/1926; 03/03/1926; 27/04/1926; 30/11/1926; 09/05/1927 (incl. quote); 04/06/1927; 20/10/1927; Protocol Special meeting 25/11/1925; Report Joint Standing Committee, attached to Protocol 18/03/1927; WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 336.

[22] This summary is contained in IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Subject Index of Work Done, 1925 to 1943.

[23] For example IISH-LC Box 1: Report Joint Standing Committee, attached to Protocol 18/03/1927.

[24] IISH-LC Box 2: Report of the Joint Committee of Women's International Organisations (around 1936, part of larger document) (quote on "competent women"); ICW. Report 1930, 37 (quote on internal procedure).

[25] IISH-LC Box 2: Report of the Joint Committee of Women's International Organisations (around 1936, part of larger document).

[26] A summary can be found in WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 338.

[27] These initiatives aimed to generalize the British example. See An Experiment in Co-Operation.

[28] IISH-LC Box 2: The Re-constitution in 1936 of the Two Committees into One, Termed the Liaison Committee of Women's Organisations (around 1936, part of larger document).

[29] IISH-LC Box 1: Protocols 09/06/1932; 22/09/1932.

[30] IISH-LC Box 2: IISH-LC Box 2: Protocol 26/11/1935; The Re-constitution in 1936 of the Two Committees into One, Termed the Liaison Committee of Women's Organisations (around 1936, part of larger document); An Experiment in Co-Operation

[31] IAW. Report of the Eleventh Congress, Berlin, June 17th to 22nd, 318f.

[32] IISH-LC Box 2: Subject Index of Work Done, 1925 to 1943; International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. League of Nations Collection 1920-1945 (hereafter: IISH-LoN) Box 94: LoN. Conference for the Codification of International Law (The Hague, March-April 1930). Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, 02/05/1930; LoN. Conference for the Codification of International Law. March-April 1930. Report of the First Committee (Nationality). See also ICW and IAW. Joint Demonstration on the Nationality of Married Women, s.l., s 1930; ICW. Report 1930, 182f., 339f., 366-74 (quote on "delegates"); Leppänen, Conflicting Interest, 43f.; IAW. Report of the Twelfth Congress Istanbul April 18th to 24th, 1935 (s.l., s.p., s.a.), 146; Deborah Stienstra, Women's Movements and International Organizations (Houndmills, London: Palgrave Macmillan,1994), 69f., 226f. For the role played by IAW, ICW, Joint Standing Committee and Latin American states in the pre-history of the Codification Conference see IAW. Report 1929, 178-84.

[33] The co-operation plan with the IAW had been worked out in 1929 and then amended and adapted. The more general co-operation plan was presented in the 1930 ICW Report as "also adopted by the Council on similar lines" without explicit further specifications as to the emergence of the scheme; "the Council" referred to the 1930 quinquennial meeting of the ICW. WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 44 f., 352-55.

[34] Aberdeen in this context referred to the agreement on co-operation between ICW and IAW the emergence of which dated back to 1929. IISH-LC Box 1: Aberdeen to Bompas 22/11/1930, attached Memo; Temporary Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations, Minutes, 04/11/1930.

[35] In this way the "scheme" in terms of describing the circumstances of co-operation built on but also considerably departed from the plan adopted at the 1930 ICW quinquennial meeting; this earlier plan had distinguished between "Special Conferences or Demonstrations … when matters of international importance arise" — this stipulation clearly referred back to the example of the "Joint Demonstration" and "Conference" at The Hague — and "Communication" between the organizations to "enable them to be kept informed" about any planned action "likely to be of common interest". IISH-LC Box 1: Protocol 17/03/1931 Attachment Executive Paper No.11, February 1931, reproduces the "scheme"; WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 45.

[36] IISH-LC Box 1: Bompas to Members of the Committee 07/10/1930, attached the minutes of the two Geneva meetings; Aberdeen to Bompas 22/11/1930, attached Memo"; Temporary Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations, Protocol 04/11/1930; Protocol 17/03/1931, attachment Executive Paper No.11 February 1931 (incl. the quotes from the "scheme"); WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 450; An Experiment in Co-Operation, 33.

[37] IISH-LC Box 1: Aberdeen to Bompas 22/11/1930, attached Memo; Temporary Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations, Protocols 04/11/1930; 02/12/1930; Aberdeen to Bompas 15/12/1930; (Bompas to) Courtney 28/11/1930; (Bompas to) Bigland 25/11/1930. I have corrected the name of the International Council of Jewish Women.

[38] IISH-LC Box 1: LC. Protocol 12/02/1931.

[39] IISH-LC Box 2: Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations, n.d. (1936?); Minutes 16/07/1931; Minutes 22/09/1933.

[40] IISH-LC Box 1: LC Memorandum on the fuller co-operation of Women in the work of the League of Nations (1932); LC. Protocol 15/05/1935.

[41] This means that as this point, and at least until 1938, the Liaison Committee consisted of "the Big Three," the Equal Rights Internatio0nal (ERI), the World's Young Women's Christian Association, the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance, the International Federation of University Women, the World Union of Women for International Concord, the International Federation of Women Magistrates and Members of the Legal Profession, and the International Federation of Business and Professional Women. IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocols 15/05/1935; 12/09/1935; 07/06/1938.

[42] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Resolution (against "inhuman treatment of helpless populations"), November 1942; LC. Protocol 12/06/1944.

[43] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol 12/06/1944. The ERI in 1941 merged with Alice Paul's World Woman's Party (established in 1938). See also An Experiment in Co-operation 1925-1945; Rupp, Worlds of Women, 142f.

[44] International Institute of Social History. Liaison Committee. http://www.iisg.nl/archives/en/files/l/10758626.php, 23/06/2011.

[45] The resolution is reprinted in WASMI: James Brown Scott (ed.), The Inter-American Commission of Women: Documents Concerning Its Creation and Organization (Washington: Pan American Union, 1935), 16. See also Stienstra, Women's Movements and International Organizations, 70, 2 27; Carol Miller, "Geneva — the Key to Equality: Inter-war Feminists and the League of Nations," Women's History Review 3:2 (1994), 219-45, 226f., and fn. 31, 242; Women's Library, London: Records of the Equal Rights International Group 1926-1934 5ERI (hereafter WL-5ERI) Folder 330 Folder "Minutes, notices, etc.": Memorandum to Delegates 08/03/1932.

[46] IISH-LC Box 1: Protocol 17/03/1931.

[47] IISH-LC Box 1: Protocol 05/05/1931

[48] IISH-LC Box 1: Protocol 16/07/1931; WL-5ERI Box 333 Folder "Inter-American Commission of Women": For immediate release, July (1931).

[49] Stienstra, Women's Movements and International Organizations, 71; WL-5ERI Box 330 Folder "Minutes, notices, etc.": Memorandum to Delegates 08/03/1932.

[50] IISH-LoN Box 94: LoN. Nationality of Women. Observations by the Committee of Representatives of Women's International Organisations, 07/09/1932; WASMI: LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations, 30/08/1935, 15; the latter document quotes this title of the Consultative Committee from the 1931 Assembly minutes. See also Miller, "Key to Equality," 227.

[51] IAW. Report 1935, 149.

[52] WASMI: LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations, 30/08/1935, 15, 28.

[53] IISH-LoN Box 94: LoN. Status of Women. Communications received from Governments and International Women's Organisations since September 1936, 24/08/1936, 80.

[54] WASMI: LoN. Official Journal. Special Supplement No. 170. Records of the Eighteenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly. Meetings of Committees. Minutes of the First Committee (Constitutional and Legal Questions), Geneva 1937 , 46.

[55] The ensuing conflicts especially on class-related implications in the pre-World War I period are discussed in Susan Zimmermann, "A Struggle over Gender, Class, and the Vote. Unequal International Interaction and the Birth of the 'Female International' of Socialist Women,"in Oliver Janz, Daniel Schönpflug, eds. Gender History in a Transnational Perspective (forthcoming, Berghan Books).

[56] WASMI: Scott, The Inter-American Commission of Women, 2, 18-45.

[57] Ch. 2 of my forthcoming study, "Liaison et division and the Making of Global Labour Standards. Transnational Politics on Labour Protection, Group Specific Labour Protection and Legal Equality in the Interwar Period," focuses on the ODI and this interaction.

[58] Miller, "Key to Equality," 224ff., gives an informed account of the early history of the ERI.

[59] Christine Bolt, Sisterhood Questioned? Race, Class, and Internationalism in the American and British Women's Movements, c. 1880s-1970s (London: Routledge, 2004), 56 (incl. quote); Paula F. Pfeffer, "A Whisper in the Assembly of Nations: United States' Participation in the International Movement for Women's Rights from the League of Nations to the United Nations," Women's Studies International Forum 8:5 (1985), 459-71; quote, 461; McKenzie, "Power of International Positioning," 131. According to Pfeffer, Paul included prominent British feminists, among them Lady Rhondda, on the international committee of the National Woman's Party in 1925.

[60] IAW. Report 1923, 71f.; Rupp, Worlds of Women, 143f.; Bolt, Sisterhood Questioned, 57f.; Miller, "Key to Equality," 223f.

[61] Pfeffer, "A Whisper," 461f.; IAW. Report 1923, 71f.

[62] IAW. Report of the Tenth Congress, La Sorbonne Paris, France, May 30th to June 6th, 1926, 106f., 121; Women's Library, London. Papers of Margery Irene Corbett Ashby 1869-1979, 7MCA/C/1 Box 483: Folder "Later recollections of international work," handwritten note "Paris Congress"; Rupp, Worlds of Women, 143f.; Bolt, Sisterhood Questioned, 57f.; Miller, "Key to Equality," 223f.

[63] Pfeffer, "A Whisper," 462.

[64] McKenzie, "The Power of International Positioning," 133f.

[65] WL-5ERI Box 331: Folder "Formation of the International": Rhondda to Paul 31/08/1926.

[66] See various documents contained in WL-5ERI.

[67] Quoted (from the ERI papers, Women's Library, London) in Marilyn Lake, "From Self-Determination via Protection to Equality via Non-Discrimination: Defining Women's Rights at the League of Nations and the United Nations," in Patricia Grimshaw, Katie Holmes, Marilyn Lake (eds.), Women's Rights and Human Rights: International Perspectives (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 254-71; quote, 259.

[68] Susan Zimmermann, "Night Work for White Women, Bonded Labour for Colored Women? The International Struggle on Labour Protection and Legal Equality, 1926 to 1944," in: Sara Kimble, Marion Röwekamp, eds., New Perspectives on European Women's Legal History (forthcoming).

[69] Scott, The Inter-American Commission of Women, 2ff.; Pfeffer, "A Whisper," 462f., and fn. 52, 470 (incl. direct quote from the Treaty); James Brown Scott, "The Sixth Pan American Conference," The American Journal of International Law, 22:2 (1928), 351-62; quote, 351.

[70]LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations, 30/08/1935; IISH-LoN Box 95: LoN. Nationality of Women. Convention on the Nationality of Women concluded on December 26, 1933, at the Seventy International Conference of American States at Montevideo, 15/05/1935; LoN. Status of Women. Proposal of Certain Delegation for Examination by the Assembly of the Status of Women as whole and not merely in relation to Nationality, with Particular Reference to the Treaty signed at Montevideo on December 26th, 1933, by Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Cuba, 15/05/1935; WASMI: The Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality Created by the Council of the League of Nations. Information Bulletin, January 25, 1935; WASMI: Scott, The Inter-American Commission of Women, 18-45.

[71] Women's Library, London. Records of the Open Door International Group 5ODC (hereafter WL-5ODC): Open Door Council. First Annual Report" 1926/1927, 1.

[72] WL-5ODC: "Open Door Council. Third Annual Report" 1928/1929, 4-8.

[73] WL-5ODC: "Open Door Council. First Annual Report" 1926/1927, 6ff.

[74] WL-5ODC: Open Door Council. Third Annual Report 1928/1929, 9f.; Open Door Council. Fourth Annual Report 1929/1930, 2f.; Notice of and Invitation to Conference in Berlin June 1929; WL-5ERI Box 333: Folder "ODI": The Open Door 1 (July 1930) 4, 14.

[75] Pfeffer, "A Whisper," fn. 18, 464.

[76] WL-5ERI Box 333: Folder "ODI": Le Sueur to Archdale 10/11/1930.

[77] The wording quoted here was adopted by an ERI Council meeting in September 1931. WL-5ERI Box 330: Folder "Minutes, Notices etc.": Minutes of the ERI Council Meeting 04/09/1931, and 05/09/1931; Box 333: Folder "ODI": For immediate release (January 1931).

[78] WL-5ERI Box 331: Folder "Geneva 1929": Draft Letter to women abroad about Equal Rights Treaty (1929); Report of operations at Geneva in September 1929 for filing at headquarters; Folder "Formation of the International": Inaugural Meeting 09/09/1930 (incl. quote, decapitalized).

[79] This is the wording by Rupp, Worlds of Women, 147, and fn. 115, 273.

[80] WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 352.

[81] Scott, The Inter-American Commission of Women, 11.

[82] ICW and IAW. Joint Demonstration on the Nationality of Married Women 1930; IAW. Congress 1935, 145; WL-5ERI Box 334: Folder "E.R.I. Council 1933-1934": Archdale to Harvey Wiley 19/04/1930; Harvey Wiley to Archdale 20/05/1930.

[83] Neither the CIM nor the National Woman's Party belonged to this group of organizations, while at least two members of the National Woman's Party belonged to the group of individuals who had "specifically signified their support". IAW. Congress 1935, 145ff.; Miller, "Key to Equality," 226f.; Pfeffer, "A Whisper," 463f.; ICW and IAW. Joint Demonstration on the Nationality of Married Women 1930 (incl. quote); Ellen Carol Dubois, "Internationalizing Married Women's Nationality: The Hague Campaign of 1930," in Karen Offen (ed.), Globalizing Feminisms, 1789—1945 (New York: Routledge, 2010), 204-16.

[84] WL-5ERI Box 334: Folder "E.R.I. Council 1933-1934": Archdale to Harvey Wiley 19/04/1930 (incl. quote); Harvey Wiley to Archdale 20/05/1930; (Archdale to) Belmont 07/06/1930; (Archdale to) Paul 07/06/1930 (incl. quote).

[85] WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 45.

[86] WL-5ERI Box 331 Folder "Formation of the International": Draft Agenda of Meeting 09/09/1930; Inaugural Meeting 09/09/1930.

[87] WL-5ERI Box 334 Folder "Sample of Pamphlets and Leaflets": A Memorandum showing the connection between the Status of Women and the Relations between Countries together with the formation of the Equal Rights International to obtain the Equal Rights Treaty. Published by the Equal Rights International. Women's Printing Society, London s.a. The same memorandum was "published by the Six Point Group" as well, without the addendum about the foundation of the ERI, with a different title and naming Archdale "Hon. International Secretary" of the Six Point Group.

[88] WL-5ERI Box 331: Folder "Schalk Schuster": To Schalk Schuster 04/12/1930.

[89] Quoted in Bolt, Sisterhood Questioned, 57.

[90] WASMI: ICW. Report 1930, 447, 451 ff.

[91] WL-5ERI Box 331: Folder "Schalk Schuster": Dear Mrs. Archdale 01/12/1930; Archdale to Schalk Schuster 04/12/1930; IISH-LC Box 1: LC. Protocol 12/12/1931.

[92] Rupp, Worlds of Women, 147; All Asian Women's Conference. Report, Lahore, 19th to 25th January 1931 (Bombay: The Times of India Press, 1931), 132ff; WASMI: Scott, The Inter-American Commission of Women, 16; IISH-LC Box 1: Temporary Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations, Protocol 02/12/1930; WL-5ERI Box 331: Folder "Schalk Schuster": For immediate release (January 1931) (incl. quote).

[93] IISH-LC Box 1: LC. Protocol Emergency Meeting 25/09/1931; LC. Protocols 15/10/1931; 06/071932 (incl. reproduction of the February 1931 resolution quoted); WL-5ERI Box 330: Folder "Annual General": Report of the Liaison Committee (1932); Box 33: Folder "Liaison Committee 1931-1932": Archdale to Bigland 16/09/1931, Bigland to Archdale 27/09/(1931); Zimmern to Archdale 06/10/1931; (Archdale to) Zimmern 04/10/1931.

[94] Interestingly the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance motivated its disaffiliation from the ODI in 1938 with the claim "that they are now organised on an international basis themselves." ODI. Report of the Conference held in Berlin June 15th and 16th, 1929 (s.l., s.p., s.a.), 14; ODI. Report of the Fifth Conference in Cambridge, 1938 (s.l., s.p., s.a.), 15; IISH-LC Box 1: LC. Protocol 22/09/1933.

[95] I am not dealing in this study with tension and conflict among legal equality feminists on the right course of action in relation to official Geneva and on organizational questions. For some information on this matter see Miller, "Key to Equality," 224-230; Rupp, Worlds of Women, 142f., 148f.

[96] On the notion of independence and choice see also Rupp, Worlds of Women, 146f.

[97] The first clause advocated the equality principle with a view to "taking particularly into consideration the interests of the children" — which was a highly restrictive qualification indeed. IISH-LoN Box 94: LoN. Conference for the Codification of International Law, March-April 1930. Final Act, 14.

[98] IAW. Report 1935, 147, 149; IISH-LC: Protocol 02/12/1930.

[99] Chrystal Macmillan in her report on the nationality of married women laid before the 1935 Congress of the IAW bitterly summarized that the IAW in 1931 "was unsuccessful in having its policy incorporated" into the Report submitted to the League of Nations. IAW. Report 1935, 147f. (with the exception of the quote on "equality asked for" the quotes are from the summary report published in 1935, i.e. not from the original documents of 1931 as reproduced in this report).

[100] WASMI: LoN. Nationality of Women. Observations submitted by Governments , 23/07/1932.

[101] In a footnote this report also mentioned the vision of a future "Code of Law ... administered by the World Court" and being free from "inequalities of sex". IISH-LoN Box 95: LoN. Nationality of Women. Observations by the Committee of Representatives of Women's International Organisations, 07/09/1932; LoN. Nationality of Women. Observations by the Committee of Representatives of Women's International Organisations. Correction to be made at the request of the Equal Rights International, 26/09/1932.

[102] The issue of extending the scope of the Committee also was entangled with the more general question of the forms of co-operation between women and the League (section 7). IAW. Report 1935, 148f.

[103] WASMI: LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations, 30/08/1935, 15.

[104] Miller, "Key to Equality," 229; Rupp, Worlds of Women, 147f.

[105] A number of additional statements had been received yet were not circulated to the Assembly; the Secretary-General had decided not to reproduce separate statements by the ICW and ERI because these organizations were represented on the Consultative Committee, and he similarly excluded statements sent in by national organizations. IAW. Report 1935, 149. WASMI: LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations, 30/08/1935; IISH-LoN Box 94: LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations (Supplement), 06/09/1935; LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations (Supplement No. 2), 11/09/1935.

[106] In her account of the struggle over the nationality question, Rupp, Worlds of Women, 146-50, explains the 1931 divide in the Consultative Committee, when ICW and WILPF sided with "the 'identical laws' camp," with the fact that at this point WILPF was "represented by an Alice Paul supporter" whereas the ICW "from a more conservative position opposed the possibility of individuals having different citizenship from their spouses." Miller, "Key to Equality," 229f., points to the same information about WILPF and more generally to the fact that the "stance adopted by representatives on the Consultative Committee reflected internal disagreement over policy within individual organizations." While the information given in these studies does contribute to the explanation of the initial (1931) divide within the Consultative Committee, there has been no exhaustive study of the motivation of both WILPF and ICW for their long-term membership on and contribution to the Consultative Committee, to my best knowledge. The constellation in 1931 for example was different from the situation at The Hague in 1930, when the ICW had co-operated with the IAW within the framework of the "Joint Demonstration" on a platform which included the quest for independent citizenship; in 1932, when the Consultative Committee submitted two separate reports to the League of Nations, the ICW was once again on the same platform with the IAW. The factors which kept the remaining organizations on the Consultative Committee together in the following years would equally deserve close attention.

[107] IISH-LoN Box 95: LoN. Status of Women. Proposal of certain Delegations for Examination by the Assembly of the Status of Women as a whole and not merely in relation to Nationality, with particular Reference to the Treaty signed at Montevideo on December 26th, 1933, by Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Cuba, 15/05/1935; WASMI: Scott, The Inter-American Commission of Women, 49-52 (quotes from 1934 initiative); WASMI: LoN. Official Journal. Special Supplement No. 170 1937, 42 (quote Secretary-General).

[108] LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations, 30/08/1935, 15-28; The Women's Consultative Committee on Nationality created by the Council of the League of Nations, October 1935.

[109] LoN. Official Journal. Special Supplement No. 170 1937, 45f.

[110] IISH-LoN, Box 94: LoN. Status of Women. Communications received from Governments and Women's Organisations since September 1936, 24/08/1937, 80.

[111] Miller, "Key to Equality," 234-37, describes the interests and dynamics within the League and the ILO which contributed to the development between 1934 and 1937 towards the "Status of Women" inquiry. Stienstra, Women's Movements and International Organizations, 72ff., focuses more on the role of the South American states and the (North and South) American women working with the CIM.

[112] This was Miss Maitland's statement. IISH-LC Box 2: Protocol 23/03/1938.

[113] This is the wording of the revised 1932 version of the original 1931 definition; the main difference was the added qualification that projects pursued by the Liaison Committee (or some of its member organizations) needed to have the initial support of a "majority" of the member organizations. IISH-LC Box 1: LC. LC. Protocol 12/02/1931; Protocol 06/07/1932.

[114] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Rules of Procedure 17/07/1936; LC. Protocol 17/06/1937.

[115] IISH-LC Box 2: Report of the Joint Committee of Women's International Organisations (around 1936, part of larger document); LC. Report June 1936 - May 1937; An Experiment in Co-operation (around 1943); Subject Index of Work Done, 1925 to 1943. The latter two documents formed the core of the brochure An Experiment in Co-operation 1925-1945, which added a foreword and information about the period from 1943. The Liaison Committee considered the documents preserved in the IISH-LC Collection drafts, i.e. subject to corrections and additions solicited from members and member organizations. Helen Archdale had penned the drafts. IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol signed 06/10/1944; LC. Protocols 08/11/1944; 18/12/1944; 19/02/1945; 21/03/1945.

   An Experiment in Co-operation 1925-1945, which added a foreword and information about the period from 1943. The Liaison Committee considered the documents preserved in the IISH-LC Collection drafts, i.e. subject to corrections and additions solicited from members and member organizations. Helen Archdale had penned the drafts. IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol signed 06/10/1944; LC. Protocols 08/11/1944; 18/12/1944; 19/02/1945; 21/03/1945.

[116] For labour policy, see Zimmermann, "Night Work for White Women, Bonded Labour for Colored Women?"

[117] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Minutes 20/12/1934.

[118] IISH-LC Box 2: LC Resolution (against "inhuman treatment of helpless populations"), November 1942.

[119] For a fuller discussion of this initiative, see the essay by Denise Ireton, "Fighting for Peace in an International City," also in this database.

[120] The International Peace Campaign "aimed to co-ordinate the work of existing pacifist organisations and other groups opposed to war, and campaigned in support of the League of Nations." University of Hull. University Archives. Pressure Group Archives Subject Guide. International Peace Campaign, http://www.hull.ac.uk/arc/collection/pressuregrouparchives/ipc.html, 09/07/2011.

[121] Carol Miller, "The Social Section and Advisory Committee on Social Question of the League of Nations," in Paul Weindling (ed.), International Health Organisations and Movements, 1918-1939 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 154-75, and Karen Offen, "Intrepid Crusader: Ghénia Avril de Sainte-Croix Takes on the Prostitution Issue," Proceedings of the Western Society for French History 33 (2005), 352-74, discuss this dimension of the work of the League of Nations and (to an extent) the co-operation with women's organizations.

[122] Torild Skard, "Getting our History Right: How Were the Equal Rights of Women and Men Included in the Charter of the United Nations?" Forum for Development Studies 35:1 (2008) 37-60, 53ff.; Johannes Morsink, "Women's Rights in the Universal Declaration,"Human Rights Quarterly 13:2 (1991) 229-56, 230ff.

[123] Miller, "Key to Equality," 228, ascribes this virulence of this vision in the politics of the ERI to the experience (especially) of Alice Paul with the successful campaign to install the ICM. In the same vein, Lake, "From Self-Determination via Protection to Equality," 261, points to the fact the vision of a permanent women's committee with general mandate closely co-operating with the League was discussed among the legal equality feminists already in 1931.

[124] IISH-LC Box 1: ERI. Draft Reply to the Secretary General 27/02/1932 (incl. quote), and Annexes I-IV; International Federation of University Women. Draft Memorandum 26/01/1932; IAW. Memorandum, 23/02/1932; LC. Memorandum on the fuller co-operation of Women in the work of the League of Nations (1932); Box 2: An Experiment in Co-Operation (around 1943) (incl. quote from the Assembly resolution); Subject Index of Work Done, 1925 to 1943.

[125] IISH-LC Box 1: IAW. Memorandum, 23/02/1932.

[126] IISH-LC Box 1: Minutes urgency meeting 04/03/1932; Minutes 08/03/1932; Letter LC (Elise Zimmern to) Drummond 14/03/1932 (incl. quote); Zimmern to Members of the LC 14/03/1932; LC. Protocol 23/03/1932.

[127] IISH-LC Box 1: LC. Memorandum on the fuller co-operation of Women in the Work of the League of Nations (1932); LC. Protocols 04/05/1932; 26/09/1932 (incl. quote, misspelling corrected); Box 2: Subject Index of Work Done, 1925 to 1943.

[128] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocols 16/07/1934; 10/12/1934.

[129] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol 19/02/1934. See Lake, ""From Self-Determination via Protection to Equality," 263ff., for context on the related early human rights' initiatives and feminist intervention. There was also an initiative presented to the League Assembly in 1933 and 1934 to assert the "international rights of individuals," see Jean H. Quataert, The Gendering of Human Rights in the International System of Law in the Twentieth Century (Washington: American Historical Association, 2006), 14 (incl. quote reproduced here).

[130] The formula referred to in the first quote, upon which the majority of the member organizations had agreed, was used in a letter to the "President of the Council" of the League. IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocols 15/01/1935; 21/02/1935; 02/07/1935 (incl. direct quote from the letter); 16/03/1937 Attachment Draft International Convention.

[131] Miller, "Key to Equality," 232ff., describes these developments as "search for an alternative to the Equal Rights Treaty" (initials de-capitalized). It might be more adequate to put it as follows: The equal rights treaty idea was transformed into the "Status of Women Convention" initiative after the 1934 initiative at the League Assembly to include (besides the nationality question) the status of women more generally into the agenda of the Assembly. In between these two Assemblies for example in one protocol of the Liaison Committee the "Status of Women Convention" is discussed under the heading of "Equal Rights Treaty". IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol 15/05/1935.

[132] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol 15/05/1935 (incl. quote); 02/07/1935.

[133] IISH-LoN Box 94: LoN. Status of Women. Communications from Governments and Women's International Organisations, 29/09/1936, 2; LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations (Supplement), 06/09/1935; LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations (Supplement No. 2), 11/09/1935; WASMI: LoN. Nationality and Status of Women. Statements presented by International Women's Organisations, 30/08/1935; LoN. Status of Women. Report submitted by the First Committee to the Assembly, 25/09/1937.

[134] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol 17/06/1937.

[135] The co-operation was not restricted to eight women's organizations as is indicated in Lake, ""From Self-Determination via Protection to Equality"; IISH-LC Box 2: LoN. Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women. Report on the Progress of the Inquiry (adopted on January 10, 1939), 1 (incl. quote from League Resolution); LoN. Minutes of public session 07/01/1939 (in French).

[136] The Expert Committee was appointed by the League Council in January 1938 and consisted of four woman and three male members. It met three times in 1938 and 1939. While at the last meeting in July 1939 it was still hoped that the study could be published before the 1941 Assembly (which was not hold due to the war) most of the work of the "scientific institutes" to which the Committee had recourse came to a halt after the outbreak of the war. Yet the "International Institute for the Unification of Private Law which had undertaken the most important part of the study … completed its work in the first half of 1941." Because "the Committee could not meet at any date in the near future, and since the completion of the work seemed remote and problematical" the Institute received permission from the Secretary-General of the League "to publish the study" at its own expense and on its own responsibility. IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol 25/10/1937; 15/02/1938; LoN. Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women. Report on the Progress of the Inquiry (adopted on January 10, 1939), 1; LoN. Report of the Work of the League During the War Submitted to the Assembly by the Acting Secretary-General, Geneva 1945, 135f., http://ia600204.us.archive.org/7/items/reportontheworko032015mbp/reportontheworko032015mbp.pdf, 01/07/2011.

[137] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocol 23/03/1938 Attachment: Margery Corbett Ashby, Meeting of Women at Geneva, Meeting of the Committee of Experts, Confidential; LoN. Minutes of public session 07/01/1939 (in French).

[138] The result was a more than 500-page study which was considered "to be only the introduction to a series of studies," mainly because it focused, as a result of the connection with the League inquiry, on the legal framings of women's work. ILO. The Law and Women's Work. A Contribution to the Study of the Status of Women, (Geneva: International Labour Office, 1939), esp. chap. VII.

[139] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Draft Work Plan attached to Minutes Emergency Meeting 27/09/1937; LC. Protocols 26/11/1935; 25/02/1936; 19/09/1936; 21/09/1936; 25/10/1937; 19/01/1938; 15/02/1938; 23/03/1938 Attachment Margery Corbett Ashby. Meeting of Women at Geneva, Meeting of the Committee of Experts, Confidential; 02/05/1938; 07/06/1938; 16/09/1938; 24/09/1938; 04/01/1939; 21/03/1939; 25/07/1939; LoN. Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women 1939, 1f. (incl. quotes from the Experts' Report); LoN. Minutes of public session 07/01/1939 [in French] (incl. quotes from the public meeting of the Committee of Experts; translations from the French are mine); LC. Report on the [same] meeting 07/01/1939; WL-Pamphlet Collection: Statement from St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance on the Status of the Women of Native Races, presented to the XVIII Assembly of the League of Nations (May 30th) 1937, s.l.

[140] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocols 14/09/1939; 04/12/1940.

[141] It is unclear, however, which organizations were involved exactly in which way in the "agreement." IISH-LC Box 2: LC. The Status of Women in the Post-War World. Conference convened by the Liaison Committee 06/03/1943; LC. General Principles on which there was agreement (1943); LC. Protocol 19/02/1945.

[142] This was made clear in the text of the "General Principles" to which I refer: "Women in the occupied countries should from the first be associated with the work of rebuilding their own country". IISH-LC Box 2: LC. General Principles on which there was agreement (1943).

[143] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Resolution "Status of Woman" 30/04/1943.

[144] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Report on Deputations on Equality of Status 1942-1943; LC. The Status of Women in the Post-War World. Conference convened by the Liaison Committee 06/03/1943; An Experiment in Co-operation 1925-1945.

[145] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Resolution "Status of Woman" 30/04/1943.

[146] The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals merely contained a clause (Ch. IX, Section A, 1) according to which "the Organization should promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms." United Nations Committee of Jurists, Documents of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, 1945, vol. 16 (London: United Nations Information Organizations, 1945). http://ia600200.us.archive.org/13/items/documentsoftheun008783mbp/documentsoftheun008783mbp.pdf, 07/07/2011, 459.

[147] IISH-LC Box 2: LC. Protocols 18/12/1944; 19/02/1945; 21/03/1945.

[148] Charter of the United Nations, http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/index.shtml, 07/07/201; Skard, Getting our History Right.

[149] An Experiment in Co-operation 1925-1945, 14f.

[150] I have not explored inter-organizational liaison in other contexts and pursued by other organizations.

[151] Miller, "Key to Equality," 238, argues in a similar vein that, for example, "even if the majority of transnational women's groups had agreed to support the [Equal Rights] Treaty, it is difficult to imagine that it would have been adopted by the League."

[152] In this study I have neither explored this interaction nor the character of the policy the Liaison Committee pursued within the many individual policy fields it covered, except for the large issues of legal equality or the status of women.

[153] The term "identical laws" is taken from Rupp, Worlds of Women, 147.

[154] Kathryn Kish Sklar, Anja Schüler, Susan Strasser, eds., Social Justice Feminists in the United States and Germany. A Dialogue in Documents, 1885-1933 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998), pp. 1-75, 63; Susan Zimmermann, Grenzüberschreitungen. Internationale Netzwerke, Organisationen, Bewegungen und die Politik der globalen Ungleichheit. 17. bis 21. Jahrhundert (Vienna: Mandelbaum, 2010), ch. 8.

[155] Lake, ""From Self-Determination via Protection to Equality," 267. The quote in Lake's text is from a letter by Bodil Begtrup to Jessie Street.