Following the armistice the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP) met in Zürich in May 1919. On the first day of the Congress, the Treaty of Versailles was published.  The women sent five envoys to Paris to convey to the statesmen their dismay at the Terms of the Treaty stating that it would

‘…deny the principles of self-determination, recognise the right of victors to the spoils of war and create all over Europe discords and animosities which can only lead to future wars.’  

The British delegation of twenty-five included Catherine Marshall, Secretary of the Section, Mary Sheepshanks, Ethel Snowden, Helena Swanwick and Ellen Wilkinson. With the formalisation of a constitution at the Zürich Congress, the international women’s peace movement which grew out of the Congress at The Hague in 1915 established itself as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Second International Congress of Women Zürich 1919 was the first organisation to critique the terms of the Treaty of Versailles

‘This International Congress of women expresses its deep regret that the terms of peace proposed at Versailles should so seriously violate the principles upon which alone a just and lasting peace can be secured …..

By guaranteeing the fruits of the secret treaties to the conquerors, the terms of peace

  • tacitly sanction secret diplomacy,
  • deny the principles of self-determination,
  • recognise the right of victors to the spoils of war
  • create all over Europe discords and animosities which can only lead to future wars.’