The League of Nations

Explaining what the League did

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  • Created by: Animal II
  • Created on: 14-02-12 12:08

Membership of the League

  • In 1920 there were 42 members
  • The largest number of members were 58
  • Germany and Russia weren't allowed to join
  • America chose not to join
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Covenant of the League

  • This was 26 rules/articles that all member countries had to agree to (including Germany - even though they didn't join the League)
    • These rules aimed to:  
      • bring about the reduction and control of arms (weapons) so that there could be no future arms race
      • the main focus of the League was a method of solving disputes between countries known as collective security.
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Organisation of the League

The Assembly (part of the League - separate)

  • Every country that was in the League was a member of the assembly
    • it discussed topics such as whether new countries should be admitted and the budget of the League
    • It met once a year

The Council - met 4/5 times a year and in emergencies

  • 4 permanent members of the council: Britain, France, Italy, Japan
  • 4 non-permanent members who were elected for a 3-year period

Main function of council was to solve any disputes that might occur between states, by negotiation if possible 

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If any country was considered to have started a war by an act of aggression, then that war became the concern of all the countries in the League who would take action against the aggressor

The action was in 3 stages:

  • Moral Condemnation: this meant that all countries would put pressure on the aggressor in order to shame that country into stopping the war and accepting the League's decision.
  • Economic Sanctions: all countries in the League would stop trading with the aggressor
  • Military Forces: all countries in the League would contribute to an armed force that would act against the aggressor
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The Permanent Court of Justice

This was a court of 15 judges chosen from the nations of the League and set up at The Hague in the Netherlands.

It dealt with disputes between countries over international law such as the terms of treaties.

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Other Work the League Did

The Assembly:

  • This was the League's Parliament. Every country in the League sent a representative to the Assembly. The Assembly could recommend action to the council and could vote on:
    • admitting new members to the League
    • appointing temporary members of the council
    • the budget of the League
    • other ideas put forward by the council
  • The Assembly only met once a year. Decisions made by the Assembly had to be agreed by all members
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The Council:

  • A smaller group which met about 5 times a year and in case of emergency.
  • It included:
    • Permanent Members. In 1920 these were Britain, France, Italy and Japan
    • Temporary Members. They were elected by the Assembly for 3-year periods. The number of temporary members varied between 4 and 9 at different times in the League's history.
  • The main idea behind the council was that if any disputes arose between members, the members brought the problem to the council and it was sorted out through discussion before matters got out of hand. However, if this did not work, they could use a range of powers:
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  • Moral Condemnation: they could decide which country was "the aggressor" ie. which country was to blame for the trouble. They could condemn the aggressor's action and tell it to stop what it was doing.
  • Economic + Financial Sanctions: members of the League could refuse to trade with the aggressor
  • Military Force: the armed forces of member countries could be used against an aggressor

The Secretariat:

  • A sort of civil service. It kept records of League meetings and prepared reports for the different agencies of the League.
  • Had specialist sections covering areas such as health, disarmament and economic matters.
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The Permanent Court of International Justice:

  • A key part of the League's job of settling disputes between countries peacefully.
  • The court-based at the Hague in the Netherlands and was made up of judges from the member countries. If it was asked, the court would give a decision on a border dispute between 2 countries. It also gave legal advice to the Assembly or Council. However, this court had no way of making sure that countries followed its rulings.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO):

  • The ILO brought together employees, governments and workers' representatives once a year.
  • Its aim was to improve the conditions of working people throughout the world. It collected statistics and information about working conditions and it tried to persuade member countries to adopt its suggestions.
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The League of Nations Commissions

Apart from sorting out disputes between its members, the League attempted to solve major problems. This was done through commissions or committees such as:

  • The Mandates Commission. The Great War led to many former colonies of Germany and her allies ending up in the League of Nations mandates ruled by Britain and France on behalf of the League. It made sure that Britain or France acted in the interests of the people of that territory, not in its own interests.
  • The Refugees Committee. This helped to return refugees to their original homes after the end of the war.
  • The Slavery Commission. This worked hard to abolish slavery around the world.
  • The Health Committee. This attempted to deal with the problem of dangerous diseases and to educate people about health and sanitation.
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How did the League of Nations work for a better wo

Refugees: In the 1920s, the League was very successful in its work for a BETTER WORLD - it took refugees and prisoners of war back home.

  • When a refugee crisis hit Turkey in 1922, they helped Turkish refugees and acted quickly to sort out cholera, smallpox and dysentery in the camps.

Working Conditions: The ILO was successful in banning poisonous white lead from paint and limiting the hours small children were allowed to work. It also campaigned strongly for employees to improve working generally.

  • It introduced a resolution for a maximum 48-hour week, and an 8-hour day, but only a minority of members did this because they thought it would raise industrial costs.
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Health: The Health Committee, which later became the world Health Organisation worked hard to defeat the dreaded disease Leprosy. It started the global campaign to exterminate mosquitoes - this greatly reduced cases of malaria and yellow fever in later decades.

  • The USSR who opposed the League, took on the Health Committee advice to prevent the plague in Siberia.

Transport: The League made recommendations on marking shipping lones and produced an international highway code for road users.

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Social Problems: The League blacklisted four large German, Dutch, French and Swiss companies which were involved in the illegal drug trade.

It brought about the freeing of 200,000 slaves in British-owned Sierra Leone. It organised raids against slave owners and traders in Burma. It challenged the use of forced labour to build the Tanganyika railway in Africa, where the rate among the African workers was a staggering 50%. League pressure brought this down to 4%, which it said was "a much more acceptable figure".

In the areas where it could not remove social injustice the League kept careful records of what was going on and provided information on problems such as drug trafficking, prostitution and slavery.

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Look at this great website for content on The League of Nations and The Treaty of Versailles :)

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