The Comité National d’Études Sociales et Politiques (CNESP, National Committee for Social and Political Studies)


Created during wartime, the Study Committee could only proclaim to be “national.” However, its preoccupations were not limited to France. Indeed, the subjects chosen were based on their importance in immediate or upcoming news, and the international often predominated.

Its first incarnation dates from 1916. It consisted in lectures followed by debates, published in 450 to 500 booklets, until 1931. The sessions took place, each week or every other week, at the Court of Cassation.


Its intention did not differ from the one inherent to the Autour du Monde grants. It consisted of informing the French administrative elite regarding the state of the world. However, while the first foundation entrusted this care to “young people chosen from the intellectual and moral elite of the Nation, not yet old enough to have already formed preconceived ideas, mature enough however to know how to look and understand,” the committee included, under the presidency of a moderator, experts in the topics of the day, chosen for their excellence in this precise subject and the diversity of their perspectives or institutions that they represented.


Like the Comité de Secours national, the CNESP borrowed the idea of the sacred Union from the wartime context: regardless of their differences, these specialists must, ideally, go beyond their partisan opinions in order to rally around a consensus. However, contemporaries differ regarding its overall success.


Albert Kahn came regularly to the Committee’s sessions. However, he almost never intervened.