League of Nations

League of Nations

Overview
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 that ended the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant
Covenant of the League of Nations
-Creation:Early drafts for a possible League of Nations began even before the end of the First World War. A London-based study group led by James Bryce and G. Lowes Dickinson made proposals adopted by the British League of Nations Society, founded in 1915. Another group in the United States—which...

, included preventing war through collective security
Collective security
Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, regional or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and agrees to join in a collective response to threats to, and breaches of, the peace...

 and disarmament
Arms control
Arms control is an umbrella term for restrictions upon the development, production, stockpiling, proliferation, and usage of weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction...

, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration
Arbitration
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution , is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons , by whose decision they agree to be bound...

. Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe.
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Timeline

1919   The League of Nations is founded.

1920   The League of Nations holds its first meeting, and ratifies the Treaty of Versailles, therefore ending World War I.

1920   The United States Senate votes against joining the League of Nations.

1920   First assembly of the League of Nations is held in Geneva.

1922   The League of Nations awards mandates of Togoland to France and Tanganyika to the United Kingdom.

1922   Hungary is admitted to League of Nations.

1924   The Geneva Protocol is adopted as a means to strengthen the League of Nations.

1926   Brazil leaves the League of Nations

1926   Germany is admitted to the League of Nations.

1933   Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.

 
Encyclopedia
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 that ended the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant
Covenant of the League of Nations
-Creation:Early drafts for a possible League of Nations began even before the end of the First World War. A London-based study group led by James Bryce and G. Lowes Dickinson made proposals adopted by the British League of Nations Society, founded in 1915. Another group in the United States—which...

, included preventing war through collective security
Collective security
Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, regional or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and agrees to join in a collective response to threats to, and breaches of, the peace...

 and disarmament
Arms control
Arms control is an umbrella term for restrictions upon the development, production, stockpiling, proliferation, and usage of weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction...

, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration
Arbitration
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution , is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons , by whose decision they agree to be bound...

. Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members.

The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift from the preceding hundred years. The League lacked its own armed force and depended on the Great Powers
Great power
A great power is a nation or state that has the ability to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength and diplomatic and cultural influence which may cause small powers to consider the opinions of great powers before taking actions...

 to enforce its resolutions, keep to its economic sanctions, or provide an army when needed. However, the Great Powers were often reluctant to do so. Sanctions could hurt League members, so they were reluctant to comply with them. When, during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a colonial war that started in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire...

, the League accused Italian soldiers of targeting Red Cross medical tents, Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 responded that "the League is very well when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out."

After a number of notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 in the 1930s. Germany withdrew from the League, as did Japan, Italy, Spain and others. The onset of the Second World War showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to prevent any future world war. The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN) replaced it after the end of the war and inherited a number of agencies and organizations founded by the League.

Origins


The concept of a peaceful community of nations had been proposed as far back as 1795, when Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

's Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch outlined the idea of a league of nations to control conflict and promote peace between states. Kant argued for the establishment of a peaceful world community, not in a sense of a global government, but in the hope that each state would declare itself a free state that respects its citizens and welcomes foreign visitors as fellow rational beings, thus promoting peaceful society worldwide. International co-operation to promote collective security originated in the Concert of Europe
Concert of Europe
The Concert of Europe , also known as the Congress System after the Congress of Vienna, was the balance of power that existed in Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of World War I , albeit with major alterations after the revolutions of 1848...

 that developed after the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 in the nineteenth century in an attempt to maintain the status quo between European states and so avoid war. This period also saw the development of international law, with the first Geneva conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

 establishing laws dealing with humanitarian relief during wartime, and the international Hague Conventions
Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)
The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands: The First Hague Conference in 1899 and the Second Hague Conference in 1907...

 of 1899 and 1907 governing rules of war and the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

The forerunner of the League of Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was formed by peace activists William Randal Cremer
William Randal Cremer
Sir William Randal Cremer usually known by his middle name "Randal", was an English Liberal Member of Parliament and pacifist....

 and Frederic Passy
Frédéric Passy
Frédéric Passy was a French economist and a joint winner of the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 1901.- Biography :...

 in 1889. The organization was international in scope, with a third of the members of parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

s (in the 24 countries that had parliaments) serving as members of the IPU by 1914. Its aims were to encourage governments to solve international disputes by peaceful means. Annual conferences were held to help governments refine the process of international arbitration. Its structure consisted of a council headed by a president, which would later be reflected in the structure of the League.

At the start of the twentieth century, two power blocs emerged from alliances between the European Great Powers. It was these alliances that, at the start of the First World War in 1914, drew all the major European powers into the conflict. This was the first major war in Europe between industrialized countries, and the first time in Western Europe that the results of industrialization (for example mass production) had been dedicated to war. The result of this industrialized warfare was an unprecedented casualty level: eight and a half million soldiers killed, an estimated 21 million wounded, and approximately 10 million civilian deaths.

By the time the fighting ended in November 1918, the war had had a profound impact, affecting the social, political and economic systems of Europe and inflicting psychological and physical damage. Anti-war sentiment rose across the world; the First World War was described as "the war to end all wars
The war to end war
"The war to end war" was a term used to describe World War I. Originally idealistic, it is now used mainly in a disparaging way.-Origin:...

", and its possible causes were vigorously investigated. The causes identified included arms races, alliances, secret diplomacy, and the freedom of sovereign states to enter into war for their own benefit. One proposed remedy was the creation of an international organization whose aim was to prevent future war through disarmament, open diplomacy, international co-operation, restrictions on the right to wage war, and penalties that made war unattractive.

While the First World War was still underway, a number of governments and groups had already started developing plans to change the way international relations were carried out to try to prevent another such conflict. United States President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 and his adviser Colonel Edward M. House
Edward M. House
Edward Mandell House was an American diplomat, politician, and presidential advisor. Commonly known by the title of Colonel House, although he had no military experience, he had enormous personal influence with U.S...

 enthusiastically promoted the idea of the League as a means of avoiding any repetition of the bloodshed of the First World War, and the creation of the League was a centrepiece of Wilson's Fourteen Points for Peace
Fourteen Points
The Fourteen Points was a speech given by United States President Woodrow Wilson to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918. The address was intended to assure the country that the Great War was being fought for a moral cause and for postwar peace in Europe...

. Specifically the final point stated: "A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike."

Before drafting the specific terms of his peace deal, Wilson recruited a team led by Colonel House to compile information deemed pertinent in assessing Europe’s geo-political situation. In early January 1918, Wilson summoned House to Washington and the two began hammering out, in complete secrecy, the president’s first address on the League of Nations, which was delivered to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 on 8 January 1918. Wilson's final plans for the League were strongly influenced by South African Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts, who in 1918 had published a treatise entitled The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion. According to F. S. Crafford, Wilson adopted "both the ideas and the style" of Smuts.

On 8 July 1919, Wilson returned to the United States and embarked on a nation-wide campaign to secure the support of the American people for their country’s entry into the League. On 10 July, Wilson addressed the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, declaring that "a new role and a new responsibility have come to this great nation that we honor and which we would all wish to lift to yet higher levels of service and achievement". Support, particularly from Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

, was scanty at best.

The Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

, convened to build a lasting peace after the First World War, approved the proposal to create the League of Nations on 25 January 1919. The Covenant of the League of Nations
Covenant of the League of Nations
-Creation:Early drafts for a possible League of Nations began even before the end of the First World War. A London-based study group led by James Bryce and G. Lowes Dickinson made proposals adopted by the British League of Nations Society, founded in 1915. Another group in the United States—which...

 was drafted by a special commission, and the League was established by Part I of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. On 28 June 1919, 44 states signed the Covenant, including 31 states which had taken part in the war on the side of the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 or joined it during the conflict. Despite Wilson's efforts to establish and promote the League, for which he was awarded the 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...

 in October 1919, the United States did not join. Opposition in the Senate, particularly from Republican politicians Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot "Slim" Lodge was an American Republican Senator and historian from Massachusetts. He had the role of Senate Majority leader. He is best known for his positions on Meek policy, especially his battle with President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 over the Treaty of Versailles...

 and William E. Borah
William Edgar Borah
William Edgar Borah was a prominent Republican attorney and longtime United States Senator from Idaho noted for his oratorical skills and isolationist views. One of his nicknames later in life was "The Lion of Idaho."...

 and especially in regard to Article X of the Covenant
Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations
Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations is the section calling for assistance to be given to a member that experiences external aggression.-Text of Article X:-Republican opposition in the United States:...

, ensured that the United States would not ratify the agreement.

The League held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920, six days after the Versailles Treaty came into force. In November, the headquarters of the League was moved to Geneva, where the first General Assembly was held on 15 November 1920.

Languages and symbols


The official languages of the League of Nations were French, English and Spanish (from 1920). The League considered adopting Esperanto
Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

 as their working language and actively encouraging its use, but this proposal was never acted on. In 1921, Lord Robert Cecil
Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood
Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood CH, PC, QC , known as Lord Robert Cecil from 1868 to 1923, was a lawyer, politician and diplomat in the United Kingdom...

 proposed the introduction of Esperanto into state schools of member nations, and a report was commissioned. When the report was presented two years later, it recommended the adoption of Cecil's idea, a proposal that 11 delegates accepted. The strongest opposition came from the French delegate, Gabriel Hanotaux
Gabriel Hanotaux
Albert Auguste Gabriel Hanotaux, known as Gabriel Hanotaux was a French statesman and historian.-Biography:...

, partially in order to protect French, which he argued was already the international language. As a result of such opposition, the recommendation was not accepted.

In 1939, a semi-official emblem for the League of Nations emerged: two five-pointed stars within a blue pentagon. They symbolized the Earth's five continents and five "races". A bow at the top displayed the English name ("League of Nations"), while another at the bottom showed the French ("Société des Nations").

Principal organs



The main constitutional organs of the League were the Assembly, the Council, and the Permanent Secretariat. It also had two essential wings: the Permanent Court of International Justice, and the International Labour Organization
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

. In addition, there were a number of auxiliary agencies and commissions. Each organ's budget was allocated by the Assembly (the League was supported financially by its member states).

The relations between the Assembly and the Council and the competencies of each were for the most part not explicitly defined. Each body could deal with any matter within the sphere of competence of the League or affecting peace in the world. Particular questions or tasks might be referred to either.

Unanimity was required for the decisions of both the Assembly and the Council, except in matters of procedure and some other specific cases, such as the admission of new members. This requirement was a reflection of the League's belief in the sovereignty of its component nations; the League sought solution by consent, not by dictation. However, in case of a dispute, the consent of the parties to the dispute was not required for unanimity.

The Permanent Secretariat, established at the seat of the League at Geneva, comprised a body of experts in various spheres under the direction of the General Secretary. Its principal sections were: Political, Financial and Economics, Transit, Minorities and Administration (administering the Saar
Saar (League of Nations)
The Territory of the Saar Basin , also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles...

 and Danzig), Mandates, Disarmament, Health, Social (Opium and Traffic in Women and Children), Intellectual Cooperation and International Bureaux, Legal, and Information. The staff of the Secretariat was responsible for preparing the agenda for the Council and the Assembly and publishing reports of the meetings and other routine matters, effectively acting as the League's civil service. In 1931, the staff numbered 707.

The Assembly consisted of representatives of all members of the League, with each state allowed up to three representatives and one vote. It met in Geneva and, after its initial sessions in 1920, it convened once a year in September. The special functions of the Assembly included the admission of new members, the periodical election of non-permanent members to the Council, the election with the Council of the judges of the Permanent Court, and control of the budget. In practice, the Assembly was the general directing force of League activities.

The League Council acted as a type of executive body directing the Assembly's business. It began with four permanent members (Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan) and four non-permanent members that were elected by the Assembly for a three-year term. The first non-permanent members were Belgium, Brazil, Greece and Spain.

The composition of the Council was changed a number of times. The number of non-permanent members was first increased to six on 22 September 1922, and then to nine on 8 September 1926. Werner Dankwort
Werner Dankwort
Dr. Carl Werner Dankwort born in Gumbinnen, Germany, was a German diplomat who served a major role in bringing Germany into the League of Nations in 1926 prior to representing the German contingent in the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, the post-World War II effort known as the...

 of Germany pushed for his country to join the League, which it eventually did in 1926, becoming the fifth permanent member of the Council. Later, after Germany and Japan both left the League, the number of non-permanent seats was increased from nine to eleven, and the Soviet Union was made a permanent member giving the Council a total of fifteen members. The Council met, on average, five times a year and in extraordinary sessions when required. In total, 107 sessions were held between 1920 and 1939.

Other bodies


The League oversaw the Permanent Court of International Justice and several other agencies and commissions created to deal with pressing international problems. These included the Disarmament Commission, the Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Mandates
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 Commission, the International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation (precursor to UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

), the Permanent Central Opium Board, the Commission for Refugees, and the Slavery Commission. Several of these institutions were transferred to the United Nations after the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

: the International Labour Organization, the Permanent Court of International Justice
Permanent Court of International Justice
The Permanent Court of International Justice, often called the World Court, was an international court attached to the League of Nations. Created in 1922 , the Court was initially met with a good reaction from states and academics alike, with many cases submitted to it for its first decade of...

 (as the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

), and the Health Organization (restructured as the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

).

The Permanent Court of International Justice was provided for by the Covenant, but not established by it. The Council and the Assembly established its constitution. Its judges were elected by the Council and the Assembly, and its budget was provided by the latter. The Court was to hear and decide any international dispute which the parties concerned submitted to it. It might also give an advisory opinion on any dispute or question referred to it by the Council or the Assembly. The Court was open to all the nations of the world under certain broad conditions.

The International Labour Organization was created in 1919 on the basis of Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles. The ILO, although having the same members as the League and being subject to the budget control of the Assembly, was an autonomous organization with its own Governing Body, its own General Conference and its own Secretariat. Its constitution differed from that of the League: representation had been accorded not only to governments but also to representatives of employers' and workers' organizations. Albert Thomas
Albert Thomas (minister)
Albert Thomas was a prominent French Socialist and the first Minister of Armament for the French Third Republic during World War I. Following the Treaty of Versailles, he was nominated as the first Director General of the International Labour Office, a position he held until his death in 1932.-...

 was its first director.


The ILO successfully restricted the addition of lead to paint, and convinced several countries to adopt an eight-hour work day and forty-eight hour working week. It also campaigned to end child labour, increase the rights of women in the workplace, and make shipowners liable for accidents involving seamen. After the demise of the League, the ILO became an agency of the United Nations in 1946.

The League's health organization had three bodies: the Health Bureau, containing permanent officials of the League;, the General Advisory Council or Conference, an executive section consisting of medical experts; and the Health Committee. The Committee's purpose was to conduct inquiries, oversee the operation of the League's health work, and prepare work to be presented to the Council. This body focused on ending leprosy
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

, malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

, and yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

, the latter two by starting an international campaign to exterminate mosquitoes. The Health Organization also worked successfully with the government of the Soviet Union to prevent typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 epidemics, including organizing a large education campaign.

The League of Nations had devoted serious attention to the question of international intellectual cooperation since its creation. The First Assembly in December 1920 recommended that the Council take action aiming at the international organization of intellectual work, which it did by adopting a report presented by the Fifth Committee of the Second Assembly and inviting a Committee on Intellectual Cooperation to meet in Geneva in August 1922. Henri Bergson
Henri Bergson
Henri-Louis Bergson was a major French philosopher, influential especially in the first half of the 20th century. Bergson convinced many thinkers that immediate experience and intuition are more significant than rationalism and science for understanding reality.He was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize...

 became the first chairman of the committee. The work of the committee included: inquiry into the conditions of intellectual life, assistance to countries where intellectual life was endangered, creation of national committees for intellectual cooperation, cooperation with international intellectual organizations, protection of intellectual property, inter-university cooperation, coordination of bibliographical work and international interchange of publications, and international cooperation in archaeological research.

The League established the Permanent Central Opium Board to supervise the statistical control system introduced by the second International Opium Convention
International Opium Convention
The International Opium Convention, signed at The Hague on January 23, 1912 during the First International Opium Conference, was the first international drug control treaty. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on January 23, 1922...

 that mediated the production, manufacture, trade, and retailing of opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 and its by-products. The board also established a system of import certificates and export authorizations for the legal international trade in narcotics.

The Slavery Commission sought to eradicate slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 and slave trading across the world, and fought forced prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

. Its main success was through pressing the governments who administered mandated countries to end slavery in those countries. The League secured a commitment from Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 to end slavery as a condition of membership in 1926, and worked with Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 to abolish forced labour and inter-tribal slavery. It also succeeded in reducing the death rate of workers constructing the Tanganyika railway
Usambara Railway
The Usambara-Railway was the first railway to be built in German East Africa and what is today Tanzania.- German East-Africa :A railway company was created in 1891 with the aim, to connect the port of Tanga at the Indian Ocean with the Lake Victoria by passing south of the Usambara Mountains. ...

 from 55 to 4 percent. Records were kept to control slavery, prostitution, and the trafficking of women and children
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

.

Led by Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth a champion skier and ice skater, he led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a...

, the Commission for Refugees was established on 27 June 1921 to look after the interests of refugees, including overseeing their repatriation
Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

 and, when necessary, resettlement. At the end of the First World War, there were two to three million ex-prisoners of war from various nations dispersed throughout Russia; within two years of the commission's foundation, it had helped 425,000 of them return home. It established camps in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 in 1922 to aid the country with an ongoing refugee crisis, helping to prevent disease and hunger. It also established the Nansen passport
Nansen passport
Nansen passports were internationally recognized identity cards first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees.-Origins:Designed in 1921 by Fridtjof Nansen, in 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel documents...

 as a means of identification for stateless persons.

The Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women sought to inquire into the status of women all over the world. It was formed in 1937, and later became part of the United Nations as the Commission on the Status of Women.

Members


Of the League's 42 founding members, 23 (24 counting Free France) remained members until it was dissolved in 1946. In the founding year, six other states joined, only two of which remained members throughout the League's existence. An additional 15 countries joined later. The largest number of member states was 58, between 28 September 1934 (when Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 joined) and 23 February 1935 (when Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 withdrew).

The Soviet Union became a member on 18 September 1934, and was expelled on 14 December 1939 for aggression against Finland
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

. In expelling the Soviet Union, the League broke its own rule: only 7 of 15 members of the Council voted for expulsion (Great Britain, France, Belgium, Bolivia, Egypt, South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

, and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

), short of the majority required by the Covenant. Three of these members had been made Council members the day before the vote (South Africa, Bolivia, and Egypt). This was one of the League's final acts before it practically ceased functioning due to the Second World War.

On 26 May 1937, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 became the last state to join the League. The first member to withdraw permanently from the League was Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 on 22 January 1925; having joined on 16 December 1920, this also makes it the member to have most quickly withdrawn. The last member to leave the League before its dissolution was Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 on 30 August 1942. Brazil was the first founding member to withdraw (14 June 1926), and Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 the last (April 1942). Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, which joined in 1932, was the first member that had previously been a League of Nations Mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

.

Mandates


At the end of the First World War, the Allied powers
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 were confronted with the question of the disposal of the former German colonies in Africa and the Pacific, and the several non-Turkish provinces of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. The Peace Conference adopted the principle that these territories should be administered by different governments on behalf of the League – a system of national responsibility subject to international supervision. This plan, defined as the mandate system
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

, was adopted by the "Council of Ten" (the heads of government and foreign ministers of the main Allied powers: Britain, France, the United States, Italy, and Japan) on 30 January 1919 and transmitted to the League of Nations.

League of Nations mandates were established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Permanent Mandates Commission supervised League of Nations mandates, and also organized plebiscites in disputed territories so that residents could decide which country they would join. There were three mandate classifications: A, B and C.

The A mandates (applied to parts of the old Ottoman Empire) were "certain communities" that had

The B mandates were applied to the former German colonies
German colonial empire
The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

 that the League took responsibility for after the First World War. These were described as "peoples" that the League said were

South-West Africa and certain of the South Pacific Islands
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

 were administered by League members under C mandates. These were classified as "territories"

Mandatory powers


The territories were governed by mandatory powers, such as the United Kingdom in the case of the Mandate of Palestine, and the Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

 in the case of South-West Africa, until the territories were deemed capable of self-government. Fourteen mandate territories were divided up among seven mandatory powers: the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. With the exception of the Kingdom of Iraq
Kingdom of Iraq
The Kingdom of Iraq was the sovereign state of Iraq during and after the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. The League of Nations mandate started in 1920. The kingdom began in August 1921 with the coronation of Faisal bin al-Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi as King Faisal I...

, which joined the League on 3 October 1932, these territories did not begin to gain their independence until after the Second World War, a process that did not end until 1990. Following the demise of the League, most of the remaining mandates became United Nations Trust Territories
United Nations Trust Territories
United Nations trust territories were the successors of the remaining League of Nations mandates and came into being when the League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946. All of the trust territories were administered through the UN Trusteeship Council...

.

In addition to the mandates, the League itself governed the Territory of the Saar Basin
Saar (League of Nations)
The Territory of the Saar Basin , also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles...

 for 15 years, before it was returned to Germany following a plebiscite, and the free city of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

 (now Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

, Poland) from 15 November 1920 to 1 September 1939.

Resolving territorial disputes


The aftermath of the First World War
Aftermath of World War I
The fighting in World War I ended in western Europe when the Armistice took effect at 11:00 am GMT on November 11, 1918, and in eastern Europe by the early 1920s. During and in the aftermath of the war the political, cultural, and social order was drastically changed in Europe, Asia and Africa,...

 left many issues to be settled, including the exact position of national boundaries and which country particular regions would join. Most of these questions were handled by the victorious Allied powers in bodies such as the Allied Supreme Council. The Allies tended to refer only particularly difficult matters to the League. This meant that, during the early interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

, the League played little part in resolving the turmoil resulting from the war. The questions the League considered in its early years included those designated by the Paris Peace treaties.

As the League developed, its role expanded, and by the middle of the 1920s it had become the centre of international activity. This change can be seen in the relationship between the League and non-members. The United States and Russia, for example, increasingly worked with the League. During the second half of the 1920s, France, Britain and Germany were all using the League of Nations as the focus of their diplomatic activity, and each of their foreign secretaries attended League meetings at Geneva during this period. They also used the League's machinery to try to improve relations and settle their differences.

Åland Islands


Åland is a collection of around 6,500 islands midway between Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

. The islands are almost exclusively Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

-speaking, but in 1809, Sweden had lost both Finland and the Åland Islands to Imperial Russia. In December 1917, during the turmoil of the Russian October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

, Finland declared its independence, but most of the Ålanders wished to rejoin Sweden. However, the Finnish government considered the islands to be a part of their new nation, as the Russians had included Åland in the Grand Duchy of Finland
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

, formed in 1809. By 1920, the dispute had escalated to the point that there was danger of war. The British government referred the problem to the League's Council, but Finland would not let the League intervene, as they considered it an internal matter. The League created a small panel to decide if it should investigate the matter and, with an affirmative response, a neutral commission was created. In June 1921, the League announced its decision: the islands were to remain a part of Finland, but with guaranteed protection of the islanders, including demilitarization. With Sweden's reluctant agreement, this became the first European international agreement concluded directly through the League.

Upper Silesia


The Allied powers referred the problem of Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...

 to the League after they had been unable to resolve the territorial dispute. After the First World War, Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 laid claim to Upper Silesia, which had been part of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

. The Treaty of Versailles had recommended a plebiscite in Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia plebiscite
The Upper Silesia plebiscite was a border referendum mandated by the Versailles Treaty and carried out in March 1921 to determine a section of the border between Weimar Germany and Poland. The region was ethnically mixed, chiefly among Germans, Poles and Silesians. According to prewar statistics,...

 to determine whether the territory should become part of Germany or Poland. Complaints about the attitude of the German authorities led to rioting and eventually to the first two Silesian Uprisings
Silesian Uprisings
The Silesian Uprisings were a series of three armed uprisings of the Poles and Polish Silesians of Upper Silesia, from 1919–1921, against German rule; the resistance hoped to break away from Germany in order to join the Second Polish Republic, which had been established in the wake of World War I...

 (1919 and 1920). A plebiscite took place on 20 March 1921, with 59.6 percent (around 500,000) of the votes cast in favour of joining Germany, but Poland claimed the conditions surrounding it had been unfair. This result led to the Third Silesian Uprising in 1921.

On 12 August 1921, the League was asked to settle the matter; the Council created a commission with representatives from Belgium, Brazil, China and Spain to study the situation. The committee recommended that Upper Silesia be divided between Poland and Germany according to the preferences shown in the plebiscite and that the two sides should decide the details of the interaction between the two areas – for example, whether goods should pass freely over the border due to the economic and industrial interdependency of the two areas. In November 1921, a conference was held in Geneva to negotiate a convention between Germany and Poland. A final settlement was reached, after five meetings, in which most of the area was given to Germany, but with the Polish section containing the majority of the region's mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 resources and much of its industry. When this agreement became public in May 1922, bitter resentment was expressed in Germany, but the treaty was still ratified by both countries. The settlement produced peace in the area until the beginning of the Second World War.

Albania


The frontiers of Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 had not been set during the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 in 1919, as they were left for the League to decide; however, they had not yet been determined by September 1921, creating an unstable situation. Greek troops held military operations in the south of Albania. Yugoslavian
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

 forces became engaged, after clashes with Albanian tribesmen, in the northern part of the country. The League sent a commission of representatives from various powers to the region. In November 1921, the League decided that the frontiers of Albania should be the same as they had been in 1913, with three minor changes that favoured Yugoslavia. Yugoslav forces withdrew a few weeks later, albeit under protest.

The borders of Albania again become the cause of international conflict when Italian General Enrico Tellini
Enrico Tellini
Enrico Tellini was an Italian General whose assassination provoked the Corfu incident of 1923.-Biography:Enrico Tellini was born in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in the province of Lucca in Tuscany. After a childhood in Florence and enlistment in the Italian army he enrolled in classes at a local...

 and four of his assistants were ambushed and killed on 24 August 1923 while marking out the newly decided border between Greece and Albania. Italian leader Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 was incensed, and demanded that a commission investigate the incident within five days. Whatever the results of the investigation, Mussolini insisted that the Greek government pay Italy fifty million lire
Italian lira
The lira was the currency of Italy between 1861 and 2002. Between 1999 and 2002, the Italian lira was officially a “national subunit” of the euro...

 in reparations. The Greeks said they would not pay unless it was proved that the crime was committed by Greeks.

Mussolini sent a warship to shell the Greek island of Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

, and Italian forces occupied the island
Corfu incident
The Corfu Incident was a 1923 diplomatic crisis between the Kingdom of Greece and the Kingdom of Italy.-Background:There was a boundary dispute between Greece and Albania. The two nations took their dispute to the Conference of Ambassadors. The Conference of Ambassadors created a commission to...

 on 31 August 1923. This contravened the League's covenant, so Greece appealed to the League to deal with the situation. The Allies, however, agreed (at Mussolini's insistence) that the Conference of Ambassadors
Conference of Ambassadors
The Conference of Ambassadors of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers was an inter-allied organization of the Entente in the period following the end of World War I. Formed in Paris in January 1920 it became a successor of the Supreme War Council and was later on de facto incorporated into...

 should be responsible for resolving the dispute because it was the conference that had appointed General Tellini. The League Council examined the dispute, but then passed on their findings to the Conference of Ambassadors to make the final decision. The conference accepted most of the League's recommendations, forcing Greece to pay fifty million lire to Italy, even though those who committed the crime were never discovered. Italian forces then withdrew from Corfu.

Memel



The port city of Memel
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

 (now Klaipėda
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

) and the surrounding area
Klaipėda Region
The Klaipėda Region or Memel Territory was defined by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 when it was put under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors...

, with a predominantly German population, was under provisional Allied control according to Article 99 of the Treaty of Versailles. The French and Polish governments favoured turning Memel into an international city
International city
An international city is an autonomous or semi-autonomous city-state that is separate from the direct supervision of a single nation-state.-Rationale for establishment:International cities had either had one or both of the following characteristics:...

, while Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 wanted to annex the area. By 1923, the fate of the area had still not been decided, prompting Lithuanian forces to invade in January 1923 and seize the port. After the Allies failed to reach an agreement with Lithuania, they referred the matter to the League of Nations. In December 1923, the League Council appointed a Commission of Inquiry. The commission chose to cede Memel to Lithuania and give the area autonomous rights. The Klaipėda Convention
Klaipėda Convention
Klaipėda Convention was an international agreement between Lithuania and the countries of the Conference of Ambassadors signed in Paris on May 8, 1924. According to the Convention, the Klaipėda Region became an autonomous region under unconditional sovereignty of Lithuania...

 was approved by the League Council on 14 March 1924, and then by the Allied powers and Lithuania.

Hatay



With League oversight, the Sanjak
Sanjak
Sanjaks were administrative divisions of the Ottoman Empire. Sanjak, and the variant spellings sandjak, sanjaq, and sinjaq, are English transliterations of the Turkish word sancak, meaning district, banner, or flag...

 of Alexandretta in the French Mandate of Syria
French Mandate of Syria
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

 was given autonomy in 1937. Renamed Hatay, its parliament declared independence as the Republic of Hatay in September 1938, after elections the previous month. It was annexed by Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 with French consent in mid-1939.

Mosul


The League resolved a dispute between the Kingdom of Iraq and the Republic of Turkey over control of the former Ottoman province of Mosul
Mosul Province, Ottoman Empire
The Vilayet of Mosul was a vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. It was created from the northern sanjaks of the Vilayet of Baghdad in 1878.At the beginning of the 20th century it reportedly had an area of , while the preliminary results of the first Ottoman census of 1885 gave the population as 300,280...

 in 1926. According to the British, who had been awarded a League of Nations mandate over Iraq in 1920 and therefore represented Iraq in its foreign affairs, Mosul belonged to Iraq; on the other hand, the new Turkish republic claimed the province as part of its historic heartland. A League of Nations Commission of Inquiry, with Belgian, Hungarian and Swedish members, was sent to the region in 1924; it found that the people of Mosul did not want to be part of either Turkey or Iraq, but if they had to choose, they would pick Iraq. In 1925, the commission recommended that the region stay part of Iraq, under the condition that the British hold the mandate over Iraq for another 25 years, to ensure the autonomous rights of the Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

ish population. The League Council adopted the recommendation and decided on 16 December 1925 to award Mosul to Iraq. Although Turkey had accepted League of Nations' arbitration in the Treaty of Lausanne
Treaty of Lausanne
The Treaty of Lausanne was a peace treaty signed in Lausanne, Switzerland on 24 July 1923, that settled the Anatolian and East Thracian parts of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The treaty of Lausanne was ratified by the Greek government on 11 February 1924, by the Turkish government on 31...

 in 1923, it rejected the decision, questioning the Council's authority. The matter was referred to the Permanent Court of International Justice, which ruled that, when the Council made a unanimous decision, it must be accepted. Nonetheless, Britain, Iraq and Turkey ratified a separate treaty on 5 June 1926 that mostly followed the decision of the League Council and also assigned Mosul to Iraq. It was agreed, however, that Iraq could still apply for League membership within 25 years and that the mandate would end upon its admittance.

Vilnius



After the First World War, Poland and Lithuania both regained their independence but soon became immersed in territorial disputes. During the Polish–Soviet War, Lithuania signed the Moscow Peace Treaty
Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty
The Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty, also known as the Moscow Peace Treaty, was signed between Lithuania and Soviet Russia on July 12, 1920. In exchange for Lithuania's neutrality and permission to freely move its troops in the recognized territory during its war against Poland, Soviet Russia...

 with the Soviet Union that laid out Lithuania's frontiers. This agreement gave Lithuanians control of the city of Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 , the old Lithuanian capital, but a city with a majority Polish population. This heightened tension between Lithuania and Poland and led to fears that they would resume the Polish–Lithuanian War
Polish–Lithuanian War
The Polish–Lithuanian War was an armed conflict between newly independent Lithuania and Poland in the aftermath of World War I. The conflict primarily concerned territorial control of the Vilnius Region, including Vilnius , and the Suwałki Region, including the towns of Suwałki, Augustów, and Sejny...

, and on 7 October 1920, the League negotiated the Suwałki Agreement establishing a cease-fire and a demarcation line between the two nations. On 9 October 1920, General Lucjan Żeligowski
Lucjan Zeligowski
Lucjan Żeligowski , was a Polish general, and veteran of World War I, the Polish-Soviet War and World War II. He is mostly remembered for his role in Żeligowski's Mutiny and as head of a short-lived Republic of Central Lithuania.-Biography:...

, commanding a Polish military force in contravention of the Suwałki Agreement, took the city and established the Republic of Central Lithuania
Republic of Central Lithuania
The Republic of Central Lithuania or Middle Lithuania , or simply Central Lithuania , was a short-lived political entity, which did not gain international recognition...

.

After a request for assistance from Lithuania, the League Council called for Poland's withdrawal from the area. The Polish government indicated they would comply, but instead reinforced the city with more Polish troops. This prompted the League to decide that the future of Vilnius should be determined by its residents in a plebiscite and that the Polish forces should withdraw and be replaced by an international force organized by the League. However, the plan was met with resistance in Poland, Lithuania, and the Soviet Union, which opposed any international force in Lithuania. In March 1921, the League abandoned plans for the plebiscite. After unsuccessful proposals by Paul Hymans
Paul Hymans
Paul Louis Adrien Henri Hymans , was a Belgian politician associated with the Liberal Party. He was the first President of the League of Nations, and served again as its president in 1932-33....

 to create a federation between Poland and Lithuania, Vilnius and the surrounding area was formally annexed by Poland in March 1922. After Lithuania took over the Klaipėda Region
Klaipėda Region
The Klaipėda Region or Memel Territory was defined by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 when it was put under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors...

, the Allied Conference
Conference of Ambassadors
The Conference of Ambassadors of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers was an inter-allied organization of the Entente in the period following the end of World War I. Formed in Paris in January 1920 it became a successor of the Supreme War Council and was later on de facto incorporated into...

 set the frontier between Lithuania and Poland, leaving Vilnius within Poland, on 14 March 1923. Lithuanian authorities refused to accept the decision, and officially remained in a state of war with Poland until 1927. It was not until the 1938 Polish ultimatum
1938 Polish ultimatum to Lithuania
The 1938 Polish ultimatum to Lithuania was an ultimatum delivered to Lithuania by Poland on March 17, 1938. The Lithuanian government had steadfastly refused to have any diplomatic relations with Poland after 1920, protesting the annexation by Poland of the Vilnius Region. As pre-World War II...

 that Lithuania restored diplomatic relations with Poland and thus de facto accepted the borders.

Colombia and Peru


There was several border conflicts between Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 in the early part of the 20th century, and in 1922, their governments signed the Salomón-Lozano Treaty
Salomón-Lozano Treaty
The Salomón–Lozano Treaty was signed in July 1922 by representatives of Colombia and Peru. The fourth in a succession of treaties on the Colombian-Peruvian dispute over land in the upper Amazon region, it was intended to be a comprehensive settlement of the long-standing border dispute between the...

 in an attempt to resolve them. As part of this treaty, the border town of Leticia and its surrounding area was ceded from Peru to Colombia, giving Colombia access to the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

. On 1 September 1932, business leaders from Peruvian rubber and sugar industries who had lost land as a result organized an armed takeover of Leticia. At first, the Peruvian government did not recognize the military takeover, but President of Peru Luis Sánchez Cerro
Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro
Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro was a high-ranking Peruvian army officer and President of Peru from 1931 to 1933. On August 22, 1930, as a lieutenant-colonel, he overturned the eleven-year dictatorship of Augusto B...

 decided to resist a Colombian re-occupation. The Peruvian army
Peruvian Army
The Peruvian Army is the branch of the Peruvian Armed Forces tasked with safeguarding the independence, sovereignty and integrity of national territory on land through military force. Additional missions include assistance in safeguarding internal security, conducting disaster relief operations...

 occupied Leticia, leading to an armed conflict between the two nations. After months of diplomatic negotiations, the governments accepted mediation by the League of Nations, and their representatives presented their cases before the Council. A provisional peace agreement, signed by both parties in May 1933, provided for the League to assume control of the disputed territory while bilateral negotiations proceeded. In May 1934, a final peace agreement was signed, resulting in the return of Leticia to Colombia, a formal apology from Peru for the 1932 invasion, demilitarization of the area around Leticia, free navigation on the Amazon and Putumayo River
Putumayo River
The Içá or Putumayo River is one of the tributaries of the Amazon River, west of and parallel to the Yapura. It forms part of Colombia's border with Ecuador, as well as most of the frontier with Peru...

s, and a pledge of non-aggression
Non-aggression pact
A non-aggression pact is an international treaty between two or more states/countries agreeing to avoid war or armed conflict between them and resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations...

.

Saar


Saar
Saar (League of Nations)
The Territory of the Saar Basin , also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles...

 was a province formed from parts of Prussia and the Rhenish Palatinate and placed under League control by the Treaty of Versailles. A plebiscite was to be held after fifteen years of League rule to determine whether the province should belong to Germany or France. When the referendum was held in 1935, 90.3 percent of voters supported becoming part of Germany, which was quickly approved by the League Council.

Other conflicts


In addition to territorial disputes, the League also tried to intervene in other conflicts between and within nations. Among its successes were its fight against the international trade in opium and sexual slavery, and its work to alleviate the plight of refugees, particularly in Turkey in the period up to 1926. One of its innovations in this latter area was the 1922 introduction of the Nansen passport
Nansen passport
Nansen passports were internationally recognized identity cards first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees.-Origins:Designed in 1921 by Fridtjof Nansen, in 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel documents...

, which was the first internationally recognized identity card for stateless refugees.

Greece and Bulgaria



After an incident involving sentries on the Greek-Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n border in October 1925, fighting began between the two countries. Three days after the initial incident, Greek troops invaded Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government ordered its troops to make only token resistance, and evacuated between ten thousand and fifteen thousand people from the border region, trusting the League to settle the dispute. The League condemned the Greek invasion, and called for both Greek withdrawal and compensation to Bulgaria.

Liberia


Following accusations of forced labour on the large American-owned Firestone
Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company is an American tire company founded by Harvey Firestone in 1900 to supply pneumatic tires for wagons, buggies, and other forms of wheeled transportation common in the era. Firestone soon saw the huge potential for marketing tires for automobiles. The company...

 rubber plantation and American accusations of slave trading, the Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

n government asked the League to launch an investigation. The resulting commission was jointly appointed by the League, the United States, and Liberia. In 1930, a League report confirmed the presence of slavery and forced labour. The report implicated many government officials in the selling of contract labour and recommended that they be replaced by Europeans or Americans, which generated anger within Liberia and led to the resignation of President Charles D.B. King and his vice president. The Liberian government outlawed forced labour and slavery and asked for American help in social reforms.

Mukden Incident



The Mukden Incident, also known as the "Manchurian Incident" or the "Far Eastern Crisis", was one of the League's major setbacks and acted as the catalyst for Japan's withdrawal from the organization. Under the terms of an agreed lease, the Japanese government had the right to station its troops in the area around the South Manchurian Railway, a major trade route between the two countries, in the Chinese region of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

. In September 1931, a section of the railway was lightly damaged by the Japanese Kwantung Army as a pretext for an invasion of Manchuria. The Japanese army claimed that Chinese soldiers had sabotaged the railway and in apparent retaliation (acting contrary to the civilian government's orders) occupied the entire region of Manchuria. They renamed the area Manchukuo
Manchukuo
Manchukuo or Manshū-koku was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, governed under a form of constitutional monarchy. The region was the historical homeland of the Manchus, who founded the Qing Empire in China...

, and on 9 March 1932 set up a puppet government, with Pu Yi, the former emperor of China, as its executive head. This new entity was recognized only by the governments of Italy and Nazi Germany; the rest of the world still considered Manchuria legally part of China. In 1932, Japanese air and sea forces bombarded the Chinese city of Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, sparking the January 28 Incident
January 28 Incident
The January 28 Incident was a short war between the armies of the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan, before official hostilities of the Second Sino-Japanese War commenced in 1937.- Naming :...

.

The League of Nations agreed to a request for help from the Chinese government, but the long voyage by ship delayed League officials. When they arrived, they were confronted with Chinese assertions that the Japanese had invaded unlawfully, while the Japanese claimed they were acting to keep peace in the area. Despite Japan's high standing in the League, the subsequent Lytton Report
Lytton Report
was a report generated by a League of Nations commission in December 1931 to try to determine the causes of the Mukden Incident which led to the Empire of Japan’s seizure of Manchuria.- The Commission :The Lytton Commission was headed by V. A. G. R...

 declared Japan to be the aggressor and demanded Manchuria be returned to the Chinese. Before the report could be voted on by the Assembly, Japan announced its intention to push further into China. The report passed 42–1 in the Assembly in 1933 (only Japan voting against), but instead of removing its troops from China, Japan withdrew from the League.

According to the Covenant, the League should have responded by enacting economic sanctions or declaring war; it did neither. The threat of economic sanctions would have been almost useless because the United States, a non–League member, could continue trade with Japan. The League could have assembled an army, but major powers like Britain and France were too preoccupied with their own affairs, such as keeping control of their extensive colonies, especially after the turmoil of the First World War. Japan was therefore left in control of Manchuria until the Soviet Union's Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 took over the area and returned it to China at the end of the Second World War.

Chaco War



The League failed to prevent the 1932 war between Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 and Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 over the arid Gran Chaco
Gran Chaco
The Gran Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, where it is connected with the Pantanal region...

 region. Although the region was sparsely populated, it contained the Paraguay River
Paraguay River
The Paraguay River is a major river in south central South America, running through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina...

, which would have given either landlocked country access to the Atlantic Ocean, and there was also speculation, later proved incorrect, that the Chaco would be a rich source of petroleum. Border skirmishes throughout the late 1920s culminated in an all-out war in 1932 when the Bolivian army attacked the Paraguayans at Fort Carlos Antonio López at Lake Pitiantuta. Paraguay appealed to the League of Nations, but the League did not take action when the Pan-American Conference
Pan-American Conference
The Conferences of American States, commonly referred to as the Pan-American Conferences, were meetings of the Pan-American Union, an international organization for cooperation on trade and other issues. They were first introduced by James G. Blaine of Maine in order to establish closer ties...

 offered to mediate instead. The war was a disaster for both sides, causing 57,000 casualties for Bolivia, whose population was around three million, and 36,000 dead for Paraguay, whose population was approximately one million. It also brought both countries to the brink of economic disaster. By the time a ceasefire was negotiated on 12 June 1935, Paraguay had seized control of most of the region, as was later recognized by the 1938 truce.

Italian invasion of Abyssinia




In October 1935, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini sent 400,000 troops to invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

). Marshal Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba, 1st Marquess of Sabotino was an Italian soldier and politician...

 led the campaign from November 1935, ordering bombing, the use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas, and the poisoning of water supplies, against targets which included undefended villages and medical facilities. The modern Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

 defeated the poorly armed Abyssinians and captured Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

 in May 1936, forcing Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie to flee.

The League of Nations condemned Italy's aggression and imposed economic sanctions in November 1935, but the sanctions were largely ineffective since they did not ban the sale of oil or close the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 (controlled by Britain). As Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

, the British Prime Minister, later observed, this was ultimately because no one had the military forces on hand to withstand an Italian attack. In October 1935, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 invoked the recently passed Neutrality Acts and placed an embargo on arms and munitions to both sides, but extended a further "moral embargo" to the belligerent Italians, including other trade items. On 5 October and later on 29 February 1936, the United States endeavoured, with limited success, to limit its exports of oil and other materials to normal peacetime levels. The League sanctions were lifted on 4 July 1936, but by that point Italy had already gained control of the urban areas of Abyssinia.

The December 1935 Hoare-Laval Pact
Hoare-Laval Pact
The Hoare-Laval Pact was a December 1935 proposal by British Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare and French Prime Minister Pierre Laval for ending the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Italy had wanted to take Abyssinia as part of its empire, and have an empire like the Romans had, and also to avenge...

 was an attempt by British Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare and Prime Minister Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval was a French politician. He was four times President of the council of ministers of the Third Republic, twice consecutively. Following France's Armistice with Germany in 1940, he served twice in the Vichy Regime as head of government, signing orders permitting the deportation of...

 to end the conflict in Abyssinia by proposing to partition the country into an Italian sector and an Abyssinian sector. Mussolini was prepared to agree to the pact, but news of the deal leaked out. Both the British and French public vehemently protested against it, describing it as a sell-out of Abyssinia. Hoare and Laval were forced to resign, and the British and French governments dissociated themselves from the two men. In June 1936, although there was no precedent for a head of state addressing the Assembly of the League of Nations in person, Haile Selassie spoke to the Assembly, appealing for its help in protecting his country.

The Abyssinian crisis showed how the League could be influenced by the self-interest of its members; one of the reasons why the sanctions were not very harsh was that both Britain and France feared the prospect of driving Mussolini and German dictator Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 into an alliance.

Spanish Civil War



On 17 July 1936, the Spanish Army
Spanish Army
The Spanish Army is the terrestrial army of the Spanish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is one of the oldest active armies - dating back to the 15th century.-Introduction:...

 launched a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, leading to a prolonged armed conflict between Spanish Republicans
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

 (the leftist national government) and the Nationalists (conservative, anti-communist rebels who included most officers of the Spanish Army). Alvarez del Vayo, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, appealed to the League in September 1936 for arms to defend Spain's territorial integrity and political independence. The League members, however, would not intervene in the Spanish Civil War nor prevent foreign intervention in the conflict. Hitler and Mussolini continued to aid General Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

’s Nationalists, while the Soviet Union helped the Spanish Republic. In February 1937, the League did ban foreign volunteers
International Brigades
The International Brigades were military units made up of volunteers from different countries, who traveled to Spain to defend the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939....

, but this was in practice a symbolic move.

Second Sino-Japanese War



Following a long record of instigating localized conflicts throughout the 1930s, Japan began a full-scale invasion of China on 7 July 1937. On 12 September, the Chinese representative, Wellington Koo
Wellington Koo
Koo Vi Kyuin or Ku Wei-chün , often known by the Western name V.K. Wellington Koo, was a prominent diplomat under the Republic of China, representative to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Ambassador to France, Great Britain, and the United States; participant in founding the League of Nations...

, appealed to the League for international intervention. Western countries were sympathetic to the Chinese in their struggle, particularly in their stubborn defence of Shanghai
Battle of Shanghai
The Battle of Shanghai, known in Chinese as Battle of Songhu, was the first of the twenty-two major engagements fought between the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China and the Imperial Japanese Army of the Empire of Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War...

, a city with a substantial number of foreigners. However, the League was unable to provide any practical measures; on 4 October, it turned the case over to the Nine Power Treaty Conference.

Failure of disarmament


Article 8 of the Covenant gave the League the task of reducing "armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations." A significant amount of the League's time and energy was devoted to this goal, even though many member governments were uncertain that such extensive disarmament could be achieved or was even desirable. The Allied powers were also under obligation by the Treaty of Versailles to attempt to disarm, and the armament restrictions imposed on the defeated countries had been described as the first step toward worldwide disarmament. The League Covenant assigned the League the task of creating a disarmament plan for each state, but the Council devolved this responsibility to a special commission set up in 1926 to prepare for the 1932–34 World Disarmament Conference
World Disarmament Conference
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932-34 was an effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to actualize the ideology of disarmament...

. Members of the League held different views towards the issue. The French were reluctant to reduce their armaments without a guarantee of military help if they were attacked; Poland and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 felt vulnerable to attack from the west and wanted the League's response to aggression against its members to be strengthened before they disarmed. Without this guarantee, they would not reduce armaments because they felt the risk of attack from Germany was too great. Fear of attack increased as Germany regained its strength after the First World War, especially after Hitler gained power and became German Chancellor in 1933. In particular, Germany's attempts to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and the reconstruction of the German military made France increasingly unwilling to disarm.

The World Disarmament Conference
World Disarmament Conference
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932-34 was an effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to actualize the ideology of disarmament...

 was convened by the League of Nations in Geneva in 1932, with representatives from 60 states. A one-year moratorium on the expansion of armaments, later extended by a few months, was proposed at the start of the conference. The Disarmament Commission obtained initial agreement from France, Italy, Japan, and Britain to limit the size of their navies. The Kellogg-Briand Pact
Kellogg-Briand Pact
The Kellogg–Briand Pact was an agreement signed on August 27, 1928, by the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Weimar Germany and a number of other countries.The pact renounced war , prohibiting the use of war...

, facilitated by the commission in 1928, failed in its objective of outlawing war. Ultimately, the Commission failed to halt the military build-up by Germany, Italy and Japan during the 1930s. The League was mostly silent in the face of major events leading to the Second World War, such as Hitler's re-militarization of the Rhineland, occupation of the Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

 and Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

of Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, which had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. In fact, League members themselves re-armed. In 1933, Japan simply withdrew from the League rather than submit to its judgement, as did Germany the same year (using the failure of the World Disarmament Conference to agree to arms parity between France and Germany as a pretext), and Italy in 1937. The final significant act of the League was to expel the Soviet Union in December 1939 after it invaded Finland
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

.

General weaknesses



The onset of the Second World War demonstrated that the League had failed in its primary purpose, the prevention of another world war. There were a variety of reasons for this failure, many connected to general weaknesses within the organization. Additionally, the power of the League was limited by the United States' refusal to join.

Origins and structure


The origins of the League as an organization created by the Allied powers as part of the peace settlement to end the First World War led to it being viewed as a "League of Victors". The League's neutrality tended to manifest itself as indecision. It required a unanimous vote of nine, later fifteen, Council members to enact a resolution; hence, conclusive and effective action was difficult, if not impossible. It was also slow in coming to its decisions, as certain ones required the unanimous consent of the entire Assembly. This problem mainly stemmed from the fact that the primary members of the League of Nations were not willing to accept the possibility of their fate being decided by other countries, and by enforcing unanimous voting had effectively given themselves veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 power.

Global representation


Representation at the League was often a problem. Though it was intended to encompass all nations, many never joined, or their time as part of the League was short. The most conspicuous absence was the United States. President Woodrow Wilson had been a driving force behind the League's formation and strongly influenced the form it took, but the US Senate voted not to join on 19 November 1919. Ruth Henig
Ruth Henig, Baroness Henig
Ruth Beatrice Henig, Baroness Henig CBE, DL is a British academic historian and Labour Party politician.-Family:...

 has suggested that, had the United States become a member, it would have also provided backup to France and Britain, possibly making France feel more secure and so encouraging France and Britain to co-operate more fully regarding Germany, making the rise to power of the Nazi Party less likely. Conversely, Henig acknowledges that if the US had been a member, its reluctance to engage in war with European states and to enact economic sanctions may have hampered the ability of the League to deal with international incidents. The structure of the US federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 may also have made its membership problematic, as its representatives at the League could not have made decisions on behalf of the United States executive branch without having prior approval of the legislative branch
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

.

In January 1920, when the League was born, Germany was not permitted to join because it was seen as the aggressor in the First World War. Soviet Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

 was also initially excluded, as communist views were not welcomed by the victors of the war. The League was further weakened when major powers left in the 1930s. Japan began as a permanent member of the Council, but withdrew in 1933 after the League voiced opposition to its invasion of Manchuria. Italy also began as a permanent member of the Council, but withdrew in 1937. The League had accepted Germany as a member in 1926, deeming it a "peace-loving country", but Adolf Hitler pulled Germany out when he came to power in 1933.

Collective security


Another important weakness grew from the contradiction between the idea of collective security
Collective security
Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, regional or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and agrees to join in a collective response to threats to, and breaches of, the peace...

 that formed the basis of the League and international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 between individual states. The League's collective security system required nations to act, if necessary, against states they considered friendly, and in a way that might endanger their national interest
National interest
The national interest, often referred to by the French expression raison d'État , is a country's goals and ambitions whether economic, military, or cultural. The concept is an important one in international relations where pursuit of the national interest is the foundation of the realist...

s, to support states for which they had no normal affinity. This weakness was exposed during the Abyssinia Crisis, when Britain and France had to balance maintaining the security they had attempted to create for themselves in Europe "to defend against the enemies of internal order", in which Italy's support played a pivotal role, with their obligations to Abyssinia as a member of the League.

On 23 June 1936, in the wake of the collapse of League efforts to restrain Italy's war against Abyssinia, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

 told the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 that collective security had

Ultimately, Britain and France both abandoned the concept of collective security in favour of appeasement
Appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 in the face of growing German militarism under Hitler.

Pacifism and disarmament



The League of Nations lacked an armed force of its own and depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, which they were very unwilling to do. Its two most important members, Britain and France, were reluctant to use sanctions and even more reluctant to resort to military action on behalf of the League. Immediately after the First World War, pacifism
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 became a strong force among both the people and governments of the two countries. The British Conservatives
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 were especially tepid to the League and preferred, when in government, to negotiate treaties without the involvement of that organization. Moreover, the League's advocacy of disarmament for Britain, France, and its other members, while at the same time advocating collective security, meant that the League was depriving itself of the only forceful means by which it could uphold its authority.

When the British cabinet discussed the concept of the League during the First World War, Maurice Hankey, the Cabinet Secretary
Cabinet Secretary
A Cabinet Secretary is almost always a senior official who provides services and advice to a Cabinet of Ministers. In many countries, the position can have considerably wider functions and powers, including general responsibility for the entire civil service...

, circulated a memorandum on the subject. He started by saying, "Generally it appears to me that any such scheme is dangerous to us, because it will create a sense of security which is wholly fictitious". He attacked the British pre-war faith in the sanctity of treaties as delusional and concluded by claiming:
Foreign Office minister Sir Eyre Crowe
Eyre Crowe
Sir Eyre Alexander Barby Wichart Crowe GCB GCMG was a British diplomat. Crowe was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1907, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1911, Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1917, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St...

 also wrote a memorandum to the British cabinet claiming that "a solemn league and covenant" would just be "a treaty, like other treaties". "What is there to ensure that it will not, like other treaties, be broken?" Crowe went on to express scepticism of the planned "pledge of common action" against aggressors because he believed the actions of individual states would still be determined by national interests and the balance of power. He also criticized the proposal for League economic sanctions because it would be ineffectual and that "It is all a question of real military preponderance". Universal disarmament was a practical impossibility, Crowe warned.

Demise and legacy



As the situation in Europe escalated into war, the Assembly transferred enough power to the Secretary General on 30 September 1938 and 14 December 1939 to allow the League to continue to exist legally and carry on reduced operations. The headquarters of the League, the Palace of Peace, remained unoccupied for nearly six years until the Second World War ended.

At the 1943 Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

, the Allied powers agreed to create a new body to replace the League: the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. Many League bodies, such as the International Labour Organization, continued to function and eventually became affiliated with the UN. The structure of the United Nations was intended to make it more effective than the League.

The final meeting of the League of Nations was held on 12 April 1946 in Geneva. Delegates from 34 nations attended the assembly. This session concerned itself with liquidating the League: assets worth approximately US$22,000,000 in 1946, including the Palace of Peace and the League's archives, were given to the UN, reserve funds were returned to the nations that had supplied them, and the debts of the League were settled. Robert Cecil
Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood
Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood CH, PC, QC , known as Lord Robert Cecil from 1868 to 1923, was a lawyer, politician and diplomat in the United Kingdom...

 is said to have summed up the feeling of the gathering during a speech to the final assembly when he said:
The motion that dissolved the League passed unanimously: "The League of Nations shall cease to exist except for the purpose of the liquidation of its affairs." It also set the date for the end of the League as the day after the session closed. On 19 April 1946, the President of the Assembly, Carl J. Hambro of Norway, declared "the twenty-first and last session of the General Assembly of the League of Nations closed." The League of Nations ceased to exist the following day.

Professor David Kennedy
David M. Kennedy (historian)
David M. Kennedy is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning historian specializing in American history. He is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History at Stanford University and the Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West...

 suggests that the League was a unique moment when international affairs were "institutionalized", as opposed to the pre–First World War methods of law and politics. The principal Allies in the Second World War (the UK, the USSR, France, the US, and Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

) became permanent members of the UN Security Council. Decisions of the Security Council are binding on all members of the UN; however, unanimous decisions are not required, unlike in the League Council. Permanent members of the Security Council are also given a veto shield to protect their vital interests.

Like its predecessor, the UN does not have its own standing armed forces, but calls on its members to contribute to armed interventions, such as during the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 and the peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 mission in the former Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

. The UN also has more member nations than the League.

See also


  • Atlantic Charter
    Atlantic Charter
    The Atlantic Charter was a pivotal policy statement first issued in August 1941 that early in World War II defined the Allied goals for the post-war world. It was drafted by Britain and the United States, and later agreed to by all the Allies...

  • Latin America and the League of Nations
    Latin America and the League of Nations
    Nine Latin American nations became charter members of the League of Nations when it was founded in 1919. The number grew to fifteen states by the time the first League Assembly met in 1920 and later, several others joined in the decade that followed...

  • Ligue internationale de la paix
    Ligue internationale de la paix
    The Ligue internationale de la paix was a 19th century peace organization that was founded by Frédéric Passy in 1867. It is also referred to as Ligue internationale et permanente de la paix...


External links