Geneva Agreements

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For the 2013 agreements about the Iranian nuclear program, see Geneva interim agreement on Iranian nuclear program.
The US sent a representative to the conferences, but did not sign the document[1]

The Geneva Agreements of 1954 (also, "Geneva Accords") arranged a settlement which brought about an end to the 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: Laos, Cambodia, and 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 Ngo Dinh Diem and his declaration of leadership of a new state, South Vietnam, the Vietminh established a communist state in the North led by 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.[2]

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.[1] Specifically, the statement seemed to promise not only US acquiescence to the mandated elections, but aid in executing them.

In the case of nations now divided against their will, we shall continue to seek to achieve unity through free elections[1]

Black propaganda operations by the CIA commenced within ten days of Smith's announcement; the leaflets dropped on 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.[3][4]

A CIA map of dissident activities in Indochina published as part of the Pentagon papers

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, Bảo Đại, to his largely self-appointed (and US-backed) successor Ngo Dinh Diem, and similarly, the extent of US responsibility for abiding by an agreement it did not sign.[2][3][5]

Sources for the full text[edit]


  1. ^ a b c George N. Katsiaficas. Vietnam documents: American and Vietnamese views of the war. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-87332-897-5. 
  2. ^ a b c 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
  3. ^ a b George N. Katsiaficas. Vietnam documents. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-87332-897-5. Chapter: Report of US Central Intelligence Agency Covert Operations Team in Vietnam 1955. Original: the Pentagon Papers
  4. ^ NEIL SHEEHAN (June 13, 1971). "Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces 3 Decades of Growing U.S. Involvement". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b Major Provisions of the 1954 Geneva Accords from The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Vol 1 Chapter 5
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ George N. Katsiaficas. Vietnam documents: American and Vietnamese views of the war. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-87332-897-5. 

External links[edit]

  • Works related to Geneva Agreements at Wikisource
  • The Pentagon Papers. U.S. National Archives.  The complete, unredacted report.
  • Pentagon Papers (Complete Gravel ed.).  Complete text with supporting documents, maps, and photos.
  • "Battle for the Pentagon Papers". Top Secret.  a resource site that supports a currently playing docu-drama about the Pentagon Papers. The site provides historical context, time lines, bibliographical resources, information on discussions with current journalists, and helpful links.