Jan. 18 marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Paris Peace Conference held at the end of World War I. The conference resulted in the establishment of the League of Nations, an organization intended by its founders to secure peace at the international level. This was the first of three historic moments in the past 100 years when real, lasting peace seemed within reach. But ultimately the League was not able to prevent a second world war.
The second significant step toward world peace followed World War II when the United Nations was established, a system of international economic institutions came into being, many territories under colonial rule became independent nations and historic advances were made relating to human rights and international law. But open hostility between the world’s two major powers brought humanity dangerously close to a conflict involving nuclear weapons.