The League of Nations

Revision cards outlining the set-up of the League of Nations and its successes/failures throughout the 1900s

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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
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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
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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.

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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.
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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) 

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International Agreements

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%!

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