The League of Nations

The aims of the League of Nations

  • To prevent aggression by any nation
  • To encourage co-operation between the nations
  • To work towards international disarmament
  • To improve the living and working conditions of all people
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The Assembly

-debating chamber of the League, located at the League's headquarters- Geneva, Switzerland

-each member country had 1 vote in the assembly
-they met once a year

-decisions made by the assembly had to be unanimous and it could only recommend action, not carry it out
-it had the power to:

     1. admit new members to the League
     2. elect permanent members to the council
     3. vote on the League's budget
     4. suggest revisions or changes to existing peace treaties

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The Council

-met up 3 times a year and in times of emergency

-5 permanent members --> Britain, France, Italy, Japan and from 1926, Germany. They had the power to veto any action proposed by the council

-4 temporary members were elected for 3years at a time

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The Secretariat

-acted as a civil service --> carried out the work and administration of the League

-kept records of the League's meetings and prepared reports for the different sections e.g. armaments

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The Permanent Court of International Justice

-made up of judges from the member countries

-had 2 main functions:
     1. to give a decision on a dispute between two countries, if asked
     2. to give legal advice to the Assembly Council e.g. on treaties

-however, the court had no way of making sure its decisions were put into action

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The International Labour Organisation (ILO)

-aim was to improve the condition of working people throughout the world

-made up of employers, governments and working representations 

-met once a year

-it collected statistics and information about working conditions 

-it tried to persuade member countries to adopt its suggestions and ideas for improvement

-important issues of the ILO: wage rates, hours of work, safety, health at work, unemployment and employment of women and children 

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The League of Nations Commissions

-Mandates Commission: to make sure that if a country controlled territory, it acted in the interests of the people of that territory

-The World Health Organisation: attempted to deal with the problem of dangerous diseases

-The Refugee Organisation: helped to return people to their original homes at the end of WW1

-Slavery Commission: set up to work for the abolition of slavery 

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The Membership of the League

1. USA: chose not to join
-congress voted against joining- isolationism
-cost of fixing others problems
-believed the Treaty of Versailles was unfair
-disliked Britain and France
-unwilling to sacrifice troops 

2. Germany: not allowed to join
-had to first prove they were a peace loving country
-eventually joined the League in 1926

3. Russia: not allowed to join
-Western countries were suspicious about communism and how it might spread to their workers
-Russia also didn't want to join as the League was seen as a 'rich club'

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Organisational Weakness within the League

  • Defeated countries not invited to join
  • Powerful countries missing e.g. USA
  • Too slow at dealing with problems
  • Decisions usually had to be unanimous 
  • No army
  • Dominated by Britain and France 
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