Paris Peace Accords
Overview
 
The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 intended to establish peace in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and an end to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, ended direct U.S. military involvement, and temporarily stopped the fighting between North and South Vietnam. The governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, as well as the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) that represented indigenous South Vietnamese revolutionaries, signed the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam
Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam
The Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam arranged a settlement which ended direct military involvement by the United States and resulted in a temporary ceasefire, the end of the Vietnam War occurring two years later. The agreement was reached at the end of the Paris Peace...

 on January 27, 1973.

The negotiations that led to the accord began in 1968 after various lengthy delays.
Encyclopedia
The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 intended to establish peace in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and an end to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, ended direct U.S. military involvement, and temporarily stopped the fighting between North and South Vietnam. The governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, as well as the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) that represented indigenous South Vietnamese revolutionaries, signed the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam
Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam
The Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam arranged a settlement which ended direct military involvement by the United States and resulted in a temporary ceasefire, the end of the Vietnam War occurring two years later. The agreement was reached at the end of the Paris Peace...

 on January 27, 1973.

The negotiations that led to the accord began in 1968 after various lengthy delays. As a result of the accord, the International Control Commission (ICC) was replaced by International Commission of Control and Supervision
International Commission of Control and Supervision
During the Vietnam War, the International Commission of Control and Supervision was created to replace the International Control Commission following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords on 27 January 1973.The Protocol...

 (ICCS) to carry out the agreement. The main negotiators of the agreement were United States National Security Advisor Dr. Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

 and Vietnamese politburo
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

 member Lê Ðức Thọ; the two men were awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 for their efforts, although Lê Ðức Thọ refused to accept it.

Provisions of the accords

The document began with the statement that "the United States and all other countries respect the independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Vietnam as recognized by the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

." The inclusion of this provision was a victory for the communist side of the negotiations by allowing that the war was not a foreign aggression against South Vietnam. The main military and political provisions of the agreement were:
  • Beginning on 27 January 1973 at midnight, Greenwich Mean Time
    Greenwich Mean Time
    Greenwich Mean Time is a term originally referring to mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. It is arguably the same as Coordinated Universal Time and when this is viewed as a time zone the name Greenwich Mean Time is especially used by bodies connected with the United...

     — in Saigon time, 08:00 on 28 January — there would be an in-place ceasefire
    Ceasefire
    A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

    . North and South Vietnamese forces were to hold their locations. They were permitted to resupply military materials to the extent necessary to replace items consumed in the course of the truce.
  • As soon as the ceasefire is in effect, U.S. troops (along with other foreign soldiers) would begin to withdraw, with withdrawal to be complete within sixty days. Simultaneously, U.S. prisoners of war would be released and allowed to return home. The parties to the agreement agreed to assist in repatriating the remains of the dead.
  • There would be negotiations between the two South Vietnamese parties — Saigon and the Vietcong — towards a political settlement that would allow the South Vietnamese people to "decide themselves the political future of South Viet-Nam through genuinely free and democratic general elections under international supervision."
  • Reunification of Vietnam was to be "carried out step by step through peaceful means."

Early deadlocks

Following the success of anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy
Eugene McCarthy
Eugene Joseph "Gene" McCarthy was an American politician, poet, and a long-time member of the United States Congress from Minnesota. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959 and the U.S. Senate from 1959 to 1971.In the 1968 presidential election, McCarthy was the first...

 in the New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

, in March 1968 U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 halted bombing operations over the northern portion of the North Vietnam (Operation Rolling Thunder
Operation Rolling Thunder
Operation Rolling Thunder was the title of a gradual and sustained US 2nd Air Division , US Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force aerial bombardment campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 2 March 1965 until 1 November 1968, during the Vietnam War.The four objectives...

), in order to encourage Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

 to begin negotiations. Shortly thereafter Hanoi agreed to discuss a complete halt of the bombing, and a date was set for representatives of both parties to meet in Paris. The sides first met on 10 May, with the delegations headed by Xuan Thuy
Xuan Thuy
Xuân Thuỷ was a North Vietnamese political figure. He was the Foreign Minister of North Vietnam from 1963 to 1965 and then chief negotiator of the North Vietnamese at the Paris Peace talks, which ended the Vietnam War in 1973....

, who would remain the official leader of the North Vietnamese delegation throughout the process, and U.S. ambassador-at-large Averell Harriman.

For five months the negotiations stalled as North Vietnam demanded that all bombing of North Vietnam be stopped, while the U.S. side demanded that North Vietnam agree to a reciprocal de-escalation in South Vietnam; it was not until 31 October that Johnson agreed to end the air strikes and serious negotiations could begin.

One of the largest hurdles to effective negotiation was the fact that North Vietnam and its ally in South Vietnam, the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
The Vietcong , or National Liberation Front , was a political organization and army in South Vietnam and Cambodia that fought the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War . It had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized...

 (NLF, or Viet Cong), refused to recognize the government of South Vietnam; with equal persistence, the government in Saigon refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the NLF. Harriman resolved this dispute by developing a system by which North Vietnam and U.S. would be the named parties; NLF officials could join North Vietnam team without being recognized by South Vietnam, while Saigon's representatives joined their U.S. allies.

A similar debate concerned the table to be used at the conference. The North favored a circular table, in which all parties, including NLF representatives, would appear to be 'equal' in importance. The South Vietnamese argued that only a rectangular table was acceptable, for only a rectangle could show two distinct sides to the conflict. Eventually a compromise was reached, in which representatives of the northern and southern governments would sit at a circular table, with members representing all other parties sitting on individual square tables around them.

Claimed sabotage of negotiations by Nixon campaign

Prior to the 1968 U.S. presidential election, some commentators have concluded from statements of President Johnson and other contemporary players, the Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 campaign "set out to sabotage the Paris peace negotiations on Vietnam."
According to this account of events, representatives of Nixon privately assured the South Vietnamese government that an incoming Republican administration would offer them a better deal than would a Democratic one, and the South Vietnamese withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, thereby disrupting the peace initiative on which the Democrats had based their campaign.
Before the elections President Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 “suspected (…) Richard Nixon, of political sabotage that he called treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

”. However, no one was criminally charged in the matter.

Nixon government

In 1969, Richard Nixon succeeded to the U.S. presidency and replaced Harriman with Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was a Republican United States Senator from Massachusetts and a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, South Vietnam, West Germany, and the Holy See . He was the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 1960 Presidential election.-Early life:Lodge was born in Nahant,...

, who was later replaced by David Bruce
David K. E. Bruce
David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce was an American diplomat, and the only American to serve as Ambassador to France, the Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom.-Biography:...

. Also that year, the NLF set up a 'Provisional Revolutionary Government', (PRG), to gain government status at the talks. However, the primary negotiations that led to the agreement did not occur at the Peace Conference at all but were carried out during secret negotiations between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, which began on 4 August 1969.

North Vietnam insisted for three years that the agreement could not be concluded unless the U.S. agreed to remove South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

 from power and replace him with someone more acceptable to Hanoi. Nixon and Kissinger were unwilling to overthrow through an agreement a government the NLF had failed to overthrow by force of arms.

Breakthrough and agreement

The major breakthrough came on 8 October 1972. North Vietnam had been disappointed by the results of its Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive), and feared increased isolation if Nixon's efforts at détente
Détente
Détente is the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. The term is often used in reference to the general easing of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1970s, a thawing at a period roughly in the middle of the Cold War...

 significantly improved U.S relations with the chief communist powers, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, who were backing North Vietnamese military effort. In a meeting with Kissinger, Tho significantly modified his bargaining line, allowing that the Saigon government could remain in power and that negotiations between the two South Vietnamese parties could develop a final settlement. Within ten days the secret talks drew up a final draft. Kissinger held a press conference in Washington during which he announced that "peace is at hand."
When Thieu, who had not even been informed of the secret negotiations, was presented with the draft of the new agreement, he was furious with Kissinger and Nixon (who were perfectly aware of South Vietnam's negotiating position) and refused to accept it without significant changes. He then made several public radio addresses, claiming that the proposed agreement was worse than it actually was. Hanoi was flabbergasted, believing that it had been duped into a propaganda ploy by Kissinger. On 26 October Radio Hanoi broadcast key details of the draft agreement.

However, as U.S casualties mounted throughout the conflict, American domestic support for the war had deteriorated, and by 1973 there was major pressure on the Nixon administration to withdraw. Consequently, the U.S. brought great diplomatic pressure upon their South Vietnamese ally to sign the peace treaty
Peace treaty
A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, that formally ends a state of war between the parties...

 even if the concessions Thieu wanted could not be achieved. Nixon pledged continued substantial aid to South Vietnam, and given his recent landslide victory in the presidential election it seemed possible that he would be able to follow through on that pledge. To demonstrate his seriousness to Thieu, Nixon ordered the heavy Operation Linebacker II
Operation Linebacker II
Operation Linebacker II was a US Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the final period of US involvement in the Vietnam War...

 bombings of North Vietnam in December 1972. These operations were also designed to keep North Vietnam at the negotiating table and to prevent it from abandoning negotiations and seeking total victory. With the U.S. committed to disengagement (and after threats from Nixon that South Vietnam would be abandoned if he did not agree), Thieu had little choice but to accede.

On 15 January 1973, Nixon announced a suspension of offensive actions against North Vietnam. Kissinger and Tho met again on 23 January and signed off on a treaty that was basically identical to the draft of three months earlier. The agreement was signed by the leaders of the official delegations on 27 January at the Majestic Hotel in Paris.

The Paris Peace Accords had little practical effect on the conflict, and were routinely flouted by the North Vietnamese and even more so by the Saigon government, which enlarged the area under its control in 1973. North Vietnamese military forces gradually moved through the southern provinces and two years later were in position to capture Saigon.

Nixon had secretly promised Thieu that he would use airpower to support the Saigon government should it be necessary. During his confirmation hearings in June 1973, Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 James Schlesinger was sharply criticized by some Senators after he stated that he would recommend resumption of U.S. bombing in North Vietnam if North Vietnam launched a major offensive against South Vietnam. However, Nixon was driven from office due to the Watergate scandal
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

 in 1974 and when the North Vietnamese did begin their final offensive early in 1975, the United States Congress refused to appropriate the funds needed by the South Vietnamese, who collapsed completely. Thieu resigned, accusing the U.S. of betrayal in a TV and radio address:
The North Vietnamese entered Saigon
Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

 on April 30. Schlesinger had announced early in the morning of 29 April 1975 the evacuation from Saigon
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind was the evacuation by helicopter of American civilians and 'at-risk' Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam, on 29–30 April 1975 during the last days of the Vietnam War...

 by helicopter of the last U.S. diplomatic, military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

, and civilian personnel.

Signatories

  • Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
    Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
    Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was a Republican United States Senator from Massachusetts and a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, South Vietnam, West Germany, and the Holy See . He was the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 1960 Presidential election.-Early life:Lodge was born in Nahant,...

    , former United States Ambassador to South Vietnam
    United States Ambassador to South Vietnam
    After World War II, France attempted to regain control of Vietnam, which they had lost to Japan in 1940. Following the First Indochina War, the country was split into two parts, the north and the south. The southern part was named The State of Vietnam under the leadership of Bảo Đại...

    , led the U.S. delegation.
  • William P. Rogers
    William P. Rogers
    William Pierce Rogers was an American politician, who served as a Cabinet officer in the administrations of two U.S. Presidents in the third quarter of the 20th century.-Early Life :...

    , United States Secretary of State
    United States Secretary of State
    The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

  • Tran Van Lam, Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Vietnam
  • Nguyen Duy Trinh, Minister for Foreign Affairs for The Democratic Republic of Vietnam
  • Nguyen Thi Binh
    Nguyen Thi Binh
    Nguyễn Thị Bình, , was a Vietnamese communist leader who negotiated at the Paris Peace Conference on behalf of the Vietcong, or National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam....

    , Minister for Foreign Affairs for The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam

Other key figures in the negotiations

  • Henry Kissinger
    Henry Kissinger
    Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

  • Le Duc Tho
    Le Duc Tho
    Lê Đức Thọ , born Phan Đình Khải in Ha Nam province, was a Vietnamese revolutionary, general, diplomat, and politician, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973, although he declined it....

  • Thich Nhat Hanh

Further reading

  • Herrington, Stuart A (1983). "Peace with Honor? An American Reports on Vietnam" Presidio Press. Part II, "Life Under The Paris Agreement" pp. 16–40.
  • Herschensohn, Bruce (2010). An American Amnesia: How the U.S. Congress Forced the Surrenders of South Vietnam and Cambodia. New York: Beaufort Books. ISBN 9780825306327.

External links

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