Detailed Study Notes: History of the League of Nations

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Origin: The idea of an international organisation not new ? suggested in Woodrow Wilson?s 14 point plan. War weary nations enthusiastically took up the idea. The 1st 26 articles of each of the peace treaties formed the covenant of the constitution of the League. 29 nations joined in 1919, by 1928 there were 54 members.

Purpose: To prevent wars ? by means of collective action. Also to promote international co-operation in social and economic fields (eg, International Labour Organisation)

Prevent war how?

? Member nations agreed to submit their disputes to the League and in no case resort to war until 3 months after the report was sent to the council.

? Any state that committed an aggression liable to have sanctions imposed. If these failed, member nations could be asked to contribute military forces to bring peace.

? Article 8 called for disarmament to the lowest point consistent with: national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations.

? Special commissions and committees were set up to deal with a host of matters such as aid to distressed people, population, refugees, health transport and communication, intellectual co-operation, mandates, national minorities, disarmament negotiation, labour standards and welfare work.


Assembly: Each member nation, large or small had one vote. Met annually ? the dominant organ of the League.

Council: One delegate from each of 15 nations entitled to representation. Some great powers were permanent members. Met 3 times a year. All important decisions had to be made unanimously for any action to be taken. (This rule became a major weakness for complaints against member nations.)

Permanent secretariat had secretary general and a large staff that conducted the day-to-day business of the League.

Supplementary Organisations: Formed much of the most valuable work...