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Geneva Conference (1954)
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For other similar events, see Geneva Conference.

The Geneva Conference (April 26 – July 20, 1954[1]) was a conference which took place in Wikipedia:Geneva, Wikipedia:Switzerland, whose ostensible purpose was to attempt to find a way to settle outstanding issues on the Wikipedia:Korean peninsula, to unify Wikipedia:Vietnam, and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Wikipedia:Indochina.[2]

The Conference is the beginning of the lie told so repeatedly that history rarely records anything else: that it marked the beginning of the southern "State of Vietnam". Nothing could be further from the truth; the resulting Accord specifically stated that the ceasefire line between the two forces was "in no way to constitute a political boundary".[3] The Conference was well aware of the ramifications of political partition, and went out of their way to prohibit it. Nonetheless, all western powers have to this day gone along with the US acting as though a partition had taken place, and with all the other US violations of the international treaty provisions as well.

The Wikipedia:Soviet Union, the Wikipedia:United States, Wikipedia:France, the Wikipedia:United Kingdom, and the People’s Republic of China were participants throughout the whole conference while different countries concerned with the two questions were also represented during the discussion of their respective questions,[4] which included the countries that sent troops through the Wikipedia:United Nations to the Wikipedia:Korean War and the various countries that ended the Wikipedia:First Indochina War between France and the Việt Minh. Ngo Diem took power at the time of or after the conference, and therefore was not a party to its discussion, but as even the most basic legal contracts accrue to future parties, he was subject to its mandates.

The part of the conference on the Korean question ended without adopting any declarations or proposals. On Indochina, the conference produced a set of documents known as the Geneva Accords. These agreements temporarily separated Vietnam into two ceasefire zones, a northern zone into which the Việt Minh were to retreat, and a southern zone into which the French forces, then headed by former emperor Wikipedia:Bảo Đại were to retreat.

A Conference Final Declaration, issued by the British chairman of the conference, provided that a general election be held by July 1956 to create a unified Vietnamese state. Although presented as a consensus view, this document was not accepted by the delegates of either South Vietnam or the United States. In addition, three separate ceasefire accords, covering Wikipedia:Cambodia, Wikipedia:Laos, and Vietnam, were signed at the conference.



Main article: Korean War

The Wikipedia:armistice signed at end of the Korean War required a political conference within three months—a timeline which was not met—“to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.”[5]


Main article: First Indochina War

thumb|250px|The Geneva Conference. After the defeat of the Wikipedia:Japanese Empire in 1945, the Wikipedia:Provisional Government of the French Republic restored colonial rule in Wikipedia:French Indochina. Nationalist and communist movements in Vietnam led to the Wikipedia:First Indochina War in 1946. This Wikipedia:colonial war between the Wikipedia:French Union's Expeditionary Corps and Hồ Chí Minh's Wikipedia:Việt Minh guerrillas turned into a Wikipedia:Cold War crisis in January 1950.[6] The communist Việt Minh received support from the newly proclaimed Wikipedia:People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, while France and the newly created Wikipedia:Vietnamese National Army received support from the United States.

The Battle of Điện Biên Phủ started on March 13, 1954 and continued during the conference. Its issue became a strategic turnover as both sides wanted to emerge as the victor and forge a favorable position for the planned negotiations about “the Indochinese problem”. After fighting for 55 days, the besieged French garrison was overrun and all French central positions were captured by the Việt Minh. Template:Cn

This war was significant in that it starkly demonstrated the reality that a Western colonial power could be defeated by an indigenous revolutionary force; the French previously pacified a similar uprising in the Wikipedia:Madagascar colony in March, 1947. A few months after the fall of Điện Biên Phủ, troops were deployed in Algeria and a second guerrilla-warfare-based war of independence started in November 1954. Growing distrust and defiance among the army's Chief of Staff toward the Wikipedia:Fourth French Republic after the contested defeat of the First Indochina War led to two military coups d'état in March 1958 and April 1961. Most of the rebel generals were Indochina veterans, including their leader, Wikipedia:Raoul Salan. Template:Cn

On the Korean questionEdit

The South Korean representative proposed that the South Korean government was the only legal government in Korea, that UN-supervised elections should be held in the North, that Chinese forces should withdraw, and that UN forces—a belligerent party to the war—should remain as a police force. The North Korean representative suggested that elections be held throughout all of Korea, that all foreign forces leave beforehand, that the elections be run by an all-Korean Commission that is made up of equal parts from North and South Korea, and to generally increase relations economically and culturally between the North and the South.[7]

The Chinese delegation proposed an amendment to have a group of “neutral nations” supervise the elections, which the North accepted. The U.S. supported the South Korean position and saying that the USSR wanted to turn North Korea into a puppet state. Most allies remained silent and at least one, Britain, thought that the U.S.-South Korean proposal would be deemed unreasonable.[8]

The South Korean representative then made a new proposal where there would be all-Korea elections but that they would be held according to South Korean constitutional procedures and still under UN-supervision. On June 15, the last day of the conference on the Korean question, the USSR and China both submitted declarations in support of a unified, democratic, independent Korea, and that negotiations to that end should resume at an appropriate time. The Belgian and British delegations said that while they were not going to accept “the Soviet and Chinese proposals, that did not mean a rejection of the ideas they contained.”[9] In the end, however, no declaration was adopted.

The Geneva AccordsEdit

thumb|250px|"Charles DeGaulle and Ho Chi Minh are hanged" in effigy by students demonstrating in Saigon, July 1964, on the tenth anniversary of the July 1954 Geneva Agreements.

Northern and southern zones were drawn into which opposing troops were to withdraw, to facilitate the cessation of hostilities between the Vietnamese forces and those that had supported the French. Viet Minh units, having advanced to the far south while fighting the French, retreated from these positions, in accordance with the Agreement, to north of the ceasefire line, awaiting unification on the basis of internationally supervised free Wikipedia:elections to be held in July 1956.[10]

Most of the French Union forces evacuated Vietnam, although much of the regional governmental infrastructure in the South was the same as it had been under the French administration. An Wikipedia:International Control Commission was set up to oversee the implementation of the Geneva Accords, but it was essentially powerless to ensure compliance. It was to consist of India, Canada, and Poland.

The agreement was among Wikipedia:Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Wikipedia:France, Wikipedia:Laos, the Wikipedia:People's Republic of China, the Wikipedia:Soviet Union, and the Wikipedia:United Kingdom. The Wikipedia:State of Vietnam rejected the agreement.[11] The United States took note and acknowledged that the agreement existed, but refused to sign the agreement, to avoid being legally bound to it. Template:Cn

Geneva Agreements and response Edit

The Geneva Agreements, which were issued on July 21, 1954,[12] carefully worded the division of northern and southern Vietnam as a "provisional military demarcation line",[3] "on either side of which the forces of the two parties shall be regrouped after their withdrawal".[3]

To specifically put aside any notion that it was a partition, they further stated, in the Final Declaration, Article 6: "The Conference recognizes that the essential purpose of the agreement relating to Vietnam is to settle military questions with a view to ending hostilities and that the military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary" [3]

Then U.S. Under-Secretary of State Wikipedia:Walter Bedell Smith said, "In connection with the statement in the Declaration concerning free elections in Vietnam, my government wishes to make clear its position which it has expressed in a Declaration made in Washington on June 29, 1954, as follows: 'In the case of nations now divided against their will, we shall continue to seek unity through free elections, supervised by the Wikipedia:United Nations to ensure they are conducted fairly.'"[3] However, this "American Plan" was rejected by the North Vietnamese and by the Soviet delegation.[13]

Post declaration eventsEdit

Main article: Operation Passage to Freedom

[[Wikipedia:File:HD-SN-99-02045.JPEG|thumb|250px|Anticommunist Vietnamese refugees moving from a French LSM landing ship to the USS Montague during Wikipedia:Operation Passage to Freedom in August 1954.]] For Communist forces, which were instrumental in the defeat of the French, the ideology of communism and nationalism were linked. Many communist sympathisers viewed the South Vietnamese as a French colonial and later an American puppet regime. On the other hand, as many others viewed the North Vietnamese as a puppet of Communist International.

After the cessation of hostilities, a large migration took place. 1,000,000 North Vietnamese, many were Catholics, intellectuals, business people, land owners, anti-communist democrats, and members of the middle-class moved south of the Accords-mandated ceasefire line during Wikipedia:Operation Passage to Freedom. The CIA attempted to further influence Catholic Vietnamese with slogans such as 'the Virgin Mary is moving South'. At the same time, 52,000 people from the South went North, mostly Viet Minh members and their families. Template:Cn

The U.S. replaced the French as a political backup for Wikipedia:Ngo Dinh Diem, then Prime Minister of the Wikipedia:State of Vietnam and he asserted his power in the South. Diem refused to hold the national elections, citing that the South did not sign and were not bound to the Geneva Accords and that it was impossible to hold free elections in the communist North, and went about attempting to crush communist opposition.[14]

North Vietnam established military operations in the South in violation of the Geneva Accords, by providing military supplies and equipment, weaponry, and military personnel and leadership to the Viet Cong in the South. Guerrilla activity in the South escalated, while U.S. military advisers continued to support the Wikipedia:Army of the Republic of Vietnam, which was created as a replacement for the Wikipedia:Vietnamese National Army. The failure of reunification led to the creation of the National Liberation Front (better known as the Wikipedia:Vietcong) by Wikipedia:Ho Chi Minh's government. They were closely aided by the Wikipedia:Vietnam People's Army (VPA) of the North, also known as the Wikipedia:North Vietnamese Army. The result was the Second Indochinese War, more commonly known as the Wikipedia:Vietnam War. Template:Cn

Sino-British relationsEdit

The British and Communist Chinese delegations reached agreement on the sidelines of the Conference to upgrade their diplomatic relations.[15]


John Lewis Gaddis, a historian, said that the 1954 accords "were so hastily drafted and ambiguously worded that, from the standpoint of international law, it makes little sense to speak of violations from either side."[16]

Wikipedia:Template:French Indochina

Geneva Agreements Edit

This article contains content from Wikipedia. Current versions of the GNU FDL article
Geneva Conference of 1954
on WP may contain information useful to the improvement of this article
For the 2013 agreements about the Iranian nuclear program, see Geneva interim agreement on Iranian nuclear program.

thumb|right|The US sent a representative to the conferences, but did not sign the document'"`UNIQ4517801938af7779-nowiki-0000003D-QINU`"'17'"`UNIQ4517801938af7779-nowiki-0000003E-QINU`"' The Wikipedia:Geneva Agreements of 1954 (also, "Geneva Accords") arranged a settlement which brought about an end to the Wikipedia:First Indochina War. The agreement was reached at the end of the Geneva Conference. A ceasefire was signed and France agreed to withdraw its troops from the region. French Indochina was split into three countries: Wikipedia:Laos, Wikipedia:Cambodia, and Wikipedia:Vietnam. Vietnam was to be temporarily divided along the 17th Parallel until elections could be held to unite the country. These elections were never held; following repeated refusals to hold nationwide elections by Wikipedia:Ngo Dinh Diem and his declaration of leadership of a new state, Wikipedia:South Vietnam, the Wikipedia:Vietminh established a communist state in the North led by Wikipedia:Ho Chi Minh. The US gave Diem considerable support in the form of financial aid; due to the corruption evident in his regime, and the question of the depth of support for him in Vietnam, there was a certain amount of reluctance in doing so.[3]

Wikipedia:Walter Bedell Smith, US representative at the Conference, read a statement on July 21, 1954, in which the US' willingness to abide by the terms of the agreements was implied, and it promised to "refrain from the threat or use of force to disturb" them.[17] Specifically, the statement seemed to promise not only US acquiescence to the mandated elections, but aid in executing them. Template:Quotation

Wikipedia:Black propaganda operations by the Wikipedia:CIA commenced within ten days of Smith's announcement; the leaflets dropped on Wikipedia:Hanoi were so convincing, that Vietminh denouncements of them were believed by even the Communist party faithful to be French trickery. Registration by Vietnamese wanting to go south to French territory increased threefold, and Vietminh currency halved in value, within days of the leaflet drop.[18]

Aspects of the Conference that have been the subject of controversy include whether it constituted a partition of Viet Nam, the transfer of responsibility for abiding by the agreement from the French representative for Viet Nam, Wikipedia:Bảo Đại, to his largely self-appointed (and US-backed) successor Wikipedia:Ngo Dinh Diem, and similarly, the extent of US responsibility for abiding by an agreement it did not sign.[3][18][19]

Sources for the full text Edit

  • East Tennessee State University website: Full text of the Agreements[20]
  • Full text of the Geneva Agreement and Final Declaration, The United States in Vietnam: An analysis in depth of the history of America's involvement in Vietnam, Appendix 2.[3]
  • Full text of the Agreements Mt. Holyoke College Professor of International Politics website: obtained from source: U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, 90th Congress, 1st Session, Background Information Relating to Southeast Asia and Vietnam (3d Revised Edition) (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 1967), pp. 50–62[19]
  • Full text of the Agreement and Final Declaration: Vietnam documents: American and Vietnamese views of the war, by Wikipedia:George N. Katsiaficas[21]
  • Modern History Sourcebook, Final Declaration
  • Template:Cite book
  • McGraw Hill full text of the Final Declaration

External linksEdit


  1. Template:Cite book
  2. Template:Cite journal
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 The United States in Vietnam: An analysis in depth of the history of America's involvement in Vietnam by George McTurnan Kahin and John W. Lewis Delta Books, 1967.
  4. "The Geneva Conference". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 2000-11-17. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  5. "Text of the Korean War Armistice Agreement". Wikipedia:Columbia University. July 27, 1953. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  6. Replacing France: The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam, Kathryn C. Statler, Unirvesity Press of Kentucky, July 2007
  7. Template:Cite book
  8. Template:Cite book
  9. Template:Cite book
  10. (Article 3) (N. Tarling, The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia, Volume Two Part Two: From World War II to the present, Cambridge University Press, p45)
  11. Template:Cite book
  12. "The Final Declarations of the Geneva Conference July 21, 1954". The Wars for Viet Nam. Wikipedia:Vassar College. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  13. The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 3, p. 140.
  14. Keylor, William. "The 20th Century World and Beyond: An International History Since 1900," p.371, Wikipedia:Oxford University Press: 2011.
  15. Template:Cite book
  16. Fadiman, Anne. Wikipedia:The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1997. 126.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Template:Cite book
  18. 18.0 18.1 Template:Cite bookChapter: Report of US Central Intelligence Agency Covert Operations Team in Vietnam 1955. Original: the Wikipedia:Pentagon Papers
  19. 19.0 19.1 Major Provisions of the 1954 Geneva Accords from The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Vol 1 Chapter 5
  20. Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Viet-Nam, July 20, 1954 Between the French and the Viet Minh East Tennessee State University Department of History
  21. Template:Cite book

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