The Anglo-Italian Agreements of 1938, also called the Easter Pact or Easter Accords (in Italian Patto or Accordi di Pasqua), were a series of agreements concluded between the British and the Italian governments in Rome on 16 April 1938 to facilitate the cooperation of the Italian government in keeping the existing world order and to prevent its alliance with Germany. These agreements were registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on 15 March 1939.
Since 1935, the British and French governments were courting the Italian government under Mussolini in the hope of preventing the formation of an alliance between Italy and Germany, then under Nazi rule. Because of that concern, their response to the invasion of Ethiopia by Italy and its involvement in the Spanish Civil War was weak and ineffectual. Italy meanwhile was looking to cleave Britain away from France, so that Britain would remain neutral when Italy would decide to attack France. This policy lasted until the Italian entry into the Second World War in June 1940.
Terms of the agreements
In the several agreements signed on the same day, the British and the Italian governments undertook to observe the order in the Mediterranean, to refrain from any actions against the sovereignty of the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where the British government had a foothold in Aden while the Italian government controlled Somalia across the Straits of Aden. They undertook to uphold the freedom of navigation in the Suez Canal, and to preserve the peace between their colonial possessions in East Africa. Ethiopia was not named in the agreements, but it was clear the British government intended to ignore the Italian control over that country. The Italian government undertook to withdraw its forces from Spain in order to facilitate the restoration of peace in that country.
The appeasement policy towards the Italian government did not prevent the formation of a German-Italian alliance, and in May 1939 a treaty to that effect was actually concluded.
- League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 195, pp. 78-115.