The Versailles Peace Conference (also called the Paris Peace Conference) marked the official end to World War I, then called the Great War. The conference was held in Versailles, France in 1919, following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, which ended the fighting of the war years. At the conference, the victorious nations of the Allied Powers set the terms of Germany's defeat and deliberated the fates of the defeated nations' colonial empires.
At the time of the Versailles Conference, Du Bois was helping to organize a Pan-African Conference under the aegis of the NAACP, also to be held in Paris. The Pan-African conference coincided with the larger Versailles Conference, though it was of secondary importance to the NAACP. Du Bois's mission, in the board's view, was to act as a special envoy to the Versailles Conference and to gather material related to the treatment and performance of soldiers of color in the European war.
The Pan-African conference passed a series of resolutions urging the victorious European powers to treat the colonial African subjects of conquered nations humanely. The Pan-African conference also asked the conveners of the Versailles conference to turn over Germany's colonial possessions to the League of Nations, and international body, and establish a legal code of treatment for black Africans.
Du Bois attended the Versailles peace Conference as a delegate of the NAACP, having sailed to Europe from New York in December 1918. His ideas met with a chilly reception, and the 1919 Pan-African Conference had no discernible influence on the Versailles Peace Conference. Du Bois and attendees of the Pan-African Conference labeled the event a success, though, in the way it brought the interests of Africa and Africans to the fore. The 1919 conference established Du Bois as a leading light of pan-Africanism in the twentieth century.