League of Nations


The League of Nations

The League of Nations came into being after the end of World War One. The League of Nation's task was simple - to ensure that war never broke out again. After the turmoil caused by the Versailles Treaty, many looked to the League to bring stability to the world.

America entered World War One in 1917. The country as a whole and Woodrow Wilson in particular was horrified by the slaughter that had taken place in what was meant to be a civilised part of the world. The only way to avoid a repetition of such a disaster was to create an international body whose sole purpose was to maintain world peace and which would sort out international disputes as and when they occurred. This would be the task of the League of Nations.

After the devastation of the war, support for such a good idea was great (except in America where isolationism was taking root).

The organisation and structure of the League of Nations

The League’s structure was complicated. This was because there was a lack of consensus about how it should work.

With a lack of consensus, it is not surprising to see how the League was to fail. Not everyone was on the same page. There were 42 different countries with different aims. Moreover, it was completely unprecedented.

Germany, Russia, and the USA were not members, and this is important considering they were the key players in WW1.

Britain and America did not want smaller states to have too much power as they feared that the smaller countries would drag them into international disputes that had little to do with them.

France however felt that states like Czechoslovakia and Poland needed to be strengthened through inclusion in the League if the peace treaties were to work. This was so that this would act as a barrier against Germany.

The greater powers felt if they were entangled with the issues of the smaller states would become overwhelmed as they had enough to deal with already. The USA moreover had isolationist ideals.

Therefore, the structure of the League was a compromise.

The smaller states could have their say in the assembly and through being non-permanent members on the council. However, as most decisions in the council had to be unanimous, the powers could easily veto any proposals made by the smaller League members. This meant that the concerns of small countries could easily be ignored if they were inconvenient to the leading members.


The Successes of the League of Nations

In view of the League’s desire to end war, the only criteria that can be used to classify a success, was whether war was avoided and a peaceful settlement formulated after a crisis between two nations.

The Aaland Islands (1921)

These islands are near enough equal distant between Finland and Sweden. They had traditionally belonged to Finland but most of the islanders wanted to be governed by Sweden. Neither Sweden nor Finland could come




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