History 9 Crazy International Treaties That Were Signed For Insane Reasons  

Nathan Gibson
7.3k views 9 items

Treaties are an essential step in reaching peace between and among warring factions; they are the documents that codify compromise. However, that doesn't mean they aren't totally outrageous sometimes - it all depends on the terms reached between the two groups. Whether they are trying to end an armed conflict or set out a trade agreement, some pretty absurd accords and WTF concordats have played an integral role in the way the world has been shaped. Some of the crazy historical treaties and insane political deals that have been made might truly baffle your mind much in the same way that things like ridiculous historical riots and moments of mass hysteria from history do.

In some of these instances, the treaties might revolve around a strange subject that just seems weird for two or more countries to be involved with (like migratory birds), and in others it could be how the treaty was implemented or developed that makes it so unusual (like when Spain basically took ALL of the New World). Whatever the case, all of these treaties are likely to make you say ‘huh?’

The Kellogg–Briand Pact Outlawed War... Right Before WWII

The Kellogg–Briand Pact Outlaw... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 9 Crazy International Treaties That Were Signed For Insane Reasons
Photo: GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Kellogg–Briand Pact was the brain child of French and US officials that effectively outlawed war after the devastation wrought by WWI. It was introduced in 1928 as a way to try to stop the increasing militarization of nations and ensure that huge global conflicts would not happen again. Essentially, it laid out terms that would force countries into settling disputes through peaceful means. Obviously - in a kind of dark irony - it proved to be completely unsuccessful. World War II broke out little more than a decade later. Many of the signatories also engaged in armed conflict, just failing to call them wars to avoid breaking the treaty.

The Barbary Treaties Legalized The Payment Of Blackmail To Pirates

The Barbary Treaties Legalized... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 9 Crazy International Treaties That Were Signed For Insane Reasons
Photo: Pietro della Vecchia/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In the roughly 40 years between 1795 and 1836, the US signed a total of seven different treaties with Algeria, Tripoli, Tunis, and Morocco. Why so many treaties? To protect US shipping interests in the region and secure the safe release of prisoners that were seized by these countries' privateers. Essentially, the Barbary Treaties, as they have come to be called, legalized the use of blackmail on the part of the North-African city-states and the payment of it by the United States. Basically, the US codified a set of agreements that paid pirates to release US merchants and sailors who were just trying to do US shipping business in the area. Probably not the foreign policy stance the US would take today.

The Treaty On Open Skies Enables Member Countries To Check Out Each Other's Militaries

The Treaty On Open Skies Enabl... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 9 Crazy International Treaties That Were Signed For Insane Reasons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

While it may sound bizarre, the Treaty on Open Skies is a settlement between 34 countries that allows them to fly observation aircraft over any of their lands. It was brought into existence to give member nations the chance to gather intelligence to ensure that they don’t commit miscalculations of military forces that could lead to armed conflict. Each member state can also share data between other signatories, with the only restriction being on the type of equipment that can be used during observation flights.

The Treaty Of Tordesillas Divided Up The New World Between Spain And Portugal

The Treaty Of Tordesillas Divi... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 9 Crazy International Treaties That Were Signed For Insane Reasons
Photo: Richard Paton/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Treaty of Tordesillas was an agreement between the two great superpowers of the late 15th century: Spain and Portugal. After new lands outside of Europe had been "discovered" by Spanish and Portuguese explorers, the two nations came into conflict as they tried to decide who should "own" these areas. The lack of maps and a poor knowledge of the land outside of their own empires meant that the final Treaty was hugely unfavorable, giving Spain almost all the land in North and South America, with Portugal only gaining access to a small part of Brazil in exchange. Even stranger, the Treaty was only ever signed by those two countries, excluding all other European powers, who, instead, totally ignored the terms of the 1494 treaty.