‘Is the Commonwealth really 70?’

Lorna recently participated in events relating to two of her main research interests: the Commonwealth and the League of Nations.

On the first of these she was one of three panellists at a London public meeting in May to discuss the question, ‘Is the Commonwealth really 70?’. Lorna argued that, rather than the 70 years claimed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth should be celebrating its centenary, given the impact of the First World War on Britain’s relations with the four Commonwealth Dominions and India. These countries’ new status was reflected in their attendance at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and their becoming founder members of the League of Nations.

In June she attended a conference held at The National Archives and the palatial Lancaster House in Central London to commemorate the centenary of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Conference not only produced the Treaty of Versailles (which established peace between the victorious powers and Germany) but it also set up the League of Nations. Lorna gave a paper explaining how, unexpectedly, it came about that the Covenant of the League included a clause providing for the establishment of an International Court. In writing her paper, she drew on the recollections of Philip Noel-Baker, later a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and for whom, early in her career, Lorna worked as a personal assistant. (In consequence of the friendship thus established, Lord Noel-Baker visited Keele in the 1980s to address International Relations students.)


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