- Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference (
May 8– July 21, 1954) was a conference between many countries that agreed to end hostilities and restore peacein French Indochinaand Vietnam. It produced a set of treaties known as the Geneva Accords, signed on behalf of France by Pierre Mendès-Franceand of the Democratic Republic of Vietnamby Pham Van Dong.
After the defeat of the
Japanese Empirein 1945, the Provisional Government of the French Republicrestored colonial rule in French Indochina. Nationalist and communist popular movements in Vietnam led to the First Indochina Warin 1946. This colonial warbetween the French Union's Expeditionary Corps and Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minhguerrillas turned into a Cold Warcrisis in January 1950. [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0813124409/ "Replacing France: The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam"] , Kathryn C. Statler, University Press of Kentucky, July 2007] The communist Viet Minh received support from the newly proclaimed People's Republic of Chinaand the Soviet Union, while France and the newly created Vietnamese National Armyreceived support from the United States.
Battle of Dien Bien Phustarted in March 13 and continued during the conference. Its issue became a strategic turnover as both sides wanted to emerge as the victor in order to benefit of a favorable position during the planned negotiations about "the Indochinese problem". After fighting for 57 days the besieged French garrison was ordered to ceasefire on May 7th at 5:00 PM by the Hanoi-based French Chief of Staff.
This war was significant in that it demonstrated that a western colonial power could be defeated by an indigenous revolutionary force; the French previously pacified a similar uprising in the
Madagascarcolony in March, 1947. A few months after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, 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 Fourth French Republicafter the contested defeats of the First Indochina War and the Suez Crisisled to two military "coups d'état" in March 1958 and April 1961. Most of the rebel Generals were Indochina veterans including their leader, Raoul Salan.
The Geneva Accords
On April 27, 1954, the Conference produced a declaration which supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of
Indochinathereby granting it independencefrom France. In addition, the Conference declaration agreed upon the cessation of hostilities and foreign involvement (or troops) in internal Indochina affairs. 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. The Viet Minh, awaited unificationon the basis of internationally supervised free elections to be held in July 1956 [(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)] . 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 International Control Commissionwas set up to oversee the implementation of the Geneva Accords, but it was basically powerless to ensure compliance. It was to consist of India, Canada, and Poland.
The agreement was between
Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, France, Laos, the People's Republic of China, the State of Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom. The United Statesrefused to participate in the conference or recognize the accords.
Post declaration events
LSM landing ship to the USS Montague during
Operation Passage to Freedomin August 1954.] Communist forces had been instrumental in the defeat of the French; the ideology of communism and nationalism were closely linked. Many viewed the South Vietnamese leadership as a French colonial, and later, an American puppet regime. Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnamlooked forward fairly comfortably to being elected in the forthcoming elections.
After the cessation of hostilities, a large migration took place. 450,000, mostly Catholics, moved to south of the Accords-mandated ceasefire line during
Operation Passage to Freedom. The CIA attempted to further influence Catholic Vietnamese with slogans such as 'the Virgin Mary is moving South'. 52,000 people went north. Communist supporters were urged to remain in the south to vote in the coming elections.
The U.S. replaced the French as a political backup for
Ngo Dinh Diem, then President of the State of Vietnam, and he asserted his power in the south. A referendum rigged by his brother Ngo Dinh Nhusaw Diem gain 98% of the vote, with 133% in Saigon. American advisors had suggested that he win by a lesser margin since it was felt that he would be able to win any fair poll against Emperor Bao Dai. Diem refused to hold the national elections, noting that the State of Vietnam never signed the Geneva Accords and went about attempting to crush all remnant of communist opposition. The prospect of democratic elections dwindling away led South Vietnamese who opposed Diem to form the Communist National Liberation FrontFact|date=October 2007, better known as the Vietcong, which engaged in guerrilla attacks and domestic terrorism against the RVN government and desired the reunification of Vietnam under Communist rule. The Việt Cộng were supported by the Vietnam People's Army(VPA) of the North.
Both sides violated multiple provisions of the Accords, with both communists and anti-communists engaging in military buildups contrary to the accords.
Guerrilla activity in the South escalated, while U.S. military advisors continued to support the
Army of the Republic of Vietnam, which was created as a replacement for the Vietnamese National Army. The result was the Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the Vietnam War.
*Other Geneva Conferences
French Indochina War
* [http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/pubs/CWIHPBulletin16_p1.pdf] - Cold War International History Project Bulletin No. 16 - Inside China's Cold War - New Evidence from the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
* [http://www.casahistoria.net/frenchindochina.htm Indochina] - History links for French involvement in Indochina, casahistoria.net
* [http://www.casahistoria.net/vietnamwar.htm Vietnam] - History links for US involvement in Indochina, casahistoria.net
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