Failures of the League of Nations

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  • Failures of the League
    • Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
      • Sept, Spanish government appealed to LON for assistance against nationalist rising that began the SCW
        • League were not prepared to intervene as the issue was seen as internal for Spain
          • League did nothing to prevent Germany & Italy from providing assistance to Franco's nationalists nor to stop Soviet Union from supplying republican govt of Spain with weapons
    • Invasion of the Ruhr 1923
      • German failure to pay reparations led to France and Belgium invading Germany's most important industrial region
        • Both France and Belgium represented the league and were therefore breaking the rules they had committed themselves to
          • Since decisions had to be unanimous and France-Belgium were permanent and non-permanent members of the council respectively this prevented the League from being able to take action
    • Invasion of Abyssinia 1935
      • Mussolini invaded Abyssinia, LON condemned this aggression and imposed economic sanctions on Italy
        • Sanctions limited and did not apply to vital resources such as oil, coal etc.
          • Mussolini was free to continue with his acquisition of the vunerable African state
            • Withdrew membership and moved towards a closer alliance with Hitler's Germany
    • Treaty of Riga 1921
      • Poland invaded Russian territory in 1920 leaving the  Russians no choice but to sign the treaty in 1921
        • Poland gained 31,000 square miles of land
          • Russia wasn't part of the league at the time; communist governments were unpopular with Britain and France, so no interest of defending it
            • The League took no action against Poland's open aggression
    • Invasion of China 1937
      • China's appeal to the League were greeted with sympathy but no practical assistance
        • League's economies were suffering massively because of Great Depression & all nations were keen to avoid taking actions that could provoke war
          • Japan was no longer a member and formed alliance with Germany in 1936
            • The only was to force Japan to end invasion was to take Military action - something Britain and France were not prepared to do
    • Corfu Incident 1923
      • Italy blamed Greece for the death of Italian officials monitoring the border between Greece and Abyssinia
        • Mussolini demanded compensation and occupied the Greek Island of Corfu
          • Greece appealed to LON who ordered Italian troops to withdraw however Mussolini refused to accept this
            • Threatened to withdraw Italy from the League
              • Took matter to Council of Ambassadors who decided Greece should pay compensation to Italy
                • LON council member took matter to another council and allowed the League's judgement to be overrulled
    • Invasion of Manchuria 1931
      • China appealed to the League, which ordered Japan (council member) to withdraw
        • Japan refused to comply, League appointed commission to investigate rival claims of the two countries
          • Commission reported that LON should govern Manchuria
            • Under the terms of the Covenant the league should have taken action against Japan
              • League was powerless against Japan's aggression due to worldwide depression
    • Vilna 1920
      • Polish troops occupied Vilna (capital of Lithuania)
        • League ordered Poland too remove its forces and tried to arrange a plebiscite to decide the region's future
          • In 1922 Poland formally annexed the city and its surrounding area. This territory remained in polish hands until 1939
            • One of the main reasons for the Leagues's failure to resolve the incident was that both Britain and France supported the Polish claim to Vilna


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