- 1926-1946 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
The International Studies Conference (ISC) was the first major international conference for the study of International Relations (IR). It held annual plenary meetings from 1928 until 1939 (and again after 1945, though no longer under the auspices of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (IIIC)). Participants came predominantly from Europe and North America, but also from Asia, South America, Oceania, the Middle East and Africa. The idea of cooperation among IR scholars was suggested to the IIIC first in 1926. The first conference meeting was held in Berlin in March 1928, followed by subsequent plenary sessions in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid, Milan (Italy), Prague, and Bergen (Norway).
The ISC was organised under the auspices of the IIIC in Paris, which provided secretariat services and oversaw publication of the conference proceedings. Even though the topics discussed at the conference often related to the League of Nations (LN), the ISC was explicitly not a representative voice of the LN, nor of any other political opinion or nationality. Among the ISC’s activities were the drafting of a political handbook, facilitating exchange of students and teachers of IR, the equivalence of degrees, and supporting collaborative research.
From 1931 the ISC had a permanent character, featuring biennial study cycles devoted to a specific topic of general interest. The 1932/33 session was on “The State and the Economic Life”, 1934/35 was devoted to “Collective Security”, 1936/37 to “Peaceful Change”, and 1938/39 to “Economic Policies in Relation to World Peace”. The discussions touched upon international politics and major treaties as well as issues of trade, natural resources, migration, colonies, and social change. Each meeting resulted in the publication of official proceedings as well as other booklets, handbooks, and memoranda—a total of 21 published by the IIIC.
The principle bodies of the ISC were, besides the plenary sessions (or study meetings), the small bureau, located at the IIIC in Paris, an executive committee, chaired by a president and responsible for maintaining a continuity between meetings, as well as administrative meetings that were staffed with regular conference participants. The final plenary session of the ISC was held in August 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. After the war, a small group of former participants gathered and continued to hold similar meetings until 1954.