Conceived as a “diplomatic laboratory” designed to explore “quietly and dispassionately those maladies that constantly place peace in balance” the ADI regularly issued statements on many of the most pressing issues of the day. It published the landmark Dictionaire Diplomatique whose contributors included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eduard Benes and Gustav Stresemann, and in the 1930s was charged with developing a reform program for The League of Nations.
The ADI early activities included:
1928 Petition for a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Submitted to the League of Nations, 1933.
1931 Report on the Legal Status of Women in 83 countries around the world.
1934 Report to ADI member Franklin D. Roosevelt on the new dynamics in diplomacy.
1936 Study on the Humanization of War.
Following the invasion of France in 1940, the ADI was forced to relocate its offices to Geneva. With the end of the Second World War and the return to Paris, the ADI focused particular attention on decolonization processes and the state-building in the developing world, introducing training and capacity-building programs designed to provide diplomats with relevant expertise and skills.
Since the year 2000, when His Highness the Aga Khan was elected president, the ADI has undertaken a major renovation of its historic residence and a strategic realignment of its mission and programmatic activities with a focus on modern diplomacy. Despite the many transformations both of the ADI and the world of diplomacy that it was designed to serve, the ADI remains rooted in the values set forth at its inception.
“We have no connection with any Government and we have no desire to impose our will on anyone,” the first ADI president observed. “But from unofficial and independent research of this character much help will be given to the cause of peace.” These are the ADI's founding values and remain its enduring ambitions.