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Aims of the League

The aims were set out in the Covenant of the League. This document was like a rule book for members of the League. (26 articles)

1.      To be united and strong enough to discourage any nation from using force as a way to solve disputes.

2.     To encourage disarmament by nations

3.     To provide a place to discuss international disputes and work them out peacefully

4.     To encourage countries to co-operate especially in business and trade

5.     To improve living and working conditions for people around the world.

Membership of the League

It was presumed that most of the victorious countries would join the League of Nations because the aim of the League was got countries to join together to prevent war. When the USA did not sign the Treaty of Versailles and did not join the league, it was weakened. Moreover, Germany was not allowed to join so regarded it as ‘a League of Victors’ and Russia was not invited to join. This meant that the League got off to a bad start.

·         France and Britain remained members of the League from 1919-1945

·         Italy left the League in 1937

·         Germany was not allowed to join until 1926 but left in 1933

·         Japan left the League in 1933

·         The USSR did not join till 1934 and left in 1939

·         USA never joined.

Britain and France were the most powerful countries in the League, so they usually guided policy in the 1920s and 1930s. Any action taken by the League needed their support. However both Britain and France had been weakened by war and neither had the resources to fill the gap left by the USA. They also felt that trade sanctions would only work if the Americans applied them. They believed that America was the only nation that had enough influence to make the League work.

Main bodies of the League of Nations

The Assembly- Met once a year- It voted on issues such as the budget of the League letting in new members. Like parliament. Decisions had to be unanimous. Recommended action that the council could take.

The Council- Had 5 permanent members which reduced to 4 when America did not join, plus 4 non-permanent members- Met 5 times a year or when there was an emergency- Its main duty was to solve any disputes that might occur between states, by negotiations if possible. Each permanent member could veto any action by the League. In any crisis, the Council took all the important decisions.

The Permanent Court of International Justice- Made up of judges from member states- Met when there was an issue- It dealt with disputes between countries over international law such as the terms of the Treaty. It had no means of enforcing its decisions, so it depended on the goodwill of the members.

The International Labour Organisation- Employers, workers and government representatives- Met


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