What were the main aims of the League?
The League of Nations was intended to 'police the world'...
It initially had four main aims:
- stop aggression of nations
- encourage cooperation within/between nations
- work towards interantional disarmament
- improve living & working conditions
Organisation of the League
- The Assembly: representative from each country, met once a year, decisions had to be unanimous (all had to agree)
- The Council: met several times a year & in emergencies, there were four permanent members (Britain, France, Italy, Japan) which had one veto each, and five temporary members
- Secretariat: 'International Civil Service', kept records of meetings and produced reports
- ILO: (Internation Labour Organisation) brought employers, governments and workers together, met once a year
- Court Of International Justice: intended to settle disputes peacefully, made up of judges from member countries, had no way of enforcing rulings
The League's Success
There were some early successes of the League. It resolved several situations - without fighting:
- dispute between Germany and Poland over Upper Silesia (1921)
- dispute between Sweden and Finland over the Aaland Islands (1921)
- conflict when Greece invaded Bulgaria (1925)
It also did a lot of good work to help refugees after World War 1 and helped ro combat the spread of serious diseases e.g. Malaria, Leprosy. In addition, it fought against slavery and tried to create better working conditions for everyone.
The League's Failures
The League of Nations had more failures than successes.
- The absence of major powers - USA, USSR, Germany, Italy (left 1937)
- Britain & France were not left very strong after WW1 - Depression etc.
- It had no armed force of its own
- The organisation meant that it could not make quick or effective decisions
- Manchurian & Abyssinian crises (made the League appear powerless to the rest of the world)
- Didn't achieve original aims! - disarmament, no wars, co-operation etc.
The Great Depression
Wall Street Crash: 24 October 1929
The American Stock Market crashed in 1929 when the prices of stockes fell dramatically and people 'panic-sold'. Businesses collapsed and so people just sold shares for whatever they could. This started off the Great Depression...
The Depression affected the USA - they stooped lending money to other countries, banks collapsed so people took their money out, and unemployment rose to 12 million
Other countries were also affected - loans/trade from USA stopped, banks failed, unemployment increased considerably
Also: poverty spread, the Nazis were elected, Britain & France became less involved with the League, international conflicts (e.g. Manchuria)
Washington Conference, 1921 - USA, Britain and France reduced their navies
Dawes Plan, 1924 - USA plan to lend money to Germany and extend payments
Locarno Treaties, 1925 - Germany agreed to western borders at Versailles
Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928 - 65 nations agreed not to use force to settle agreements
Young Plan, 1929 - reduced reparations by 75%!