The League of Nations

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  • There were high hopes for the League of Nations. Lots of people admired its moral principles.

The League came from the Fourteen Points.

The League's main aims were to:

  • Stop aggression (Collective Security).
  • Encourage international cooperation.
  • Disarmament.
  • Improve living and working conditions.

The League comprised of:

The Assembly:

  • Met once a year.
  • Each country had one vote.
  • 42 Countries were members (rising to 58 in 1934).
  • Could only recommend to council.
  • The USA, USSR and Germany, the three greatest powers in the world, were not members.

The Council

  • Met three times per year, or in emergency.
  • Five permanent members - Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Germany (who became a member in 1926).
  • Also had four temporary members.


  • Carried out the work of the league, like a civil service.

International Labour Organisation

  • To improve working conditions.
  • Each member nation sent two government ministers, one employer and one worker.
  • They discussed working conditions and got countries to make improvements.


  • Mandates, Refugees, Drug Addiction, Slavery, Help for undeveloped nations, Minorities, Women, World Health Organisation.

Permanent Court of International Justice

  • Fifteen judges met at The Hague in the Netherlands.
  • They settled international disputes, e.g. over frontiers or fishing rights.

The League was intended to police the world

  • It began work in January 1920.
  • There were 42 members to start with, 58 by 1934.
  • All of the members followed a Covenant (agreement) of 26 rules.
  • Every member country had a vote in the Assembly. One some member countries could vote in the Council.
  • The League could warn countries in disputes, apply economic sanctions (block international trade with misbehaving countries), then send troops in.
  • The League tried to improve social conditions, working on health, slavery and refugees.
  • The Permanent Court of International Justice decided on border disputes between countries. Everyone hoped this would avoid a major war.

The early successes of the League:

  • The League resolved several difficult situations over territorial claims - without fighting.
  • The League took home half a million First World War prisoners of war.
  • It solved the dispute in 1921 between Germany and Poland over Upper Silesia, the dispute between Sweden and Finland over the Aaland Islands in 1921, and the conflict when Greece invaded Bulgaria in 1925.
  • These successes gave it a good reputation.
  • It also did a lot of good work to help refugees after the First World War.
  • It worked to combat the spread of serious diseases such as leprosy, malaria and plague - and inoculated against them.
  • It fought against slavery, and tried to create better working conditions for people all across the world.

The USA didn't join the League

  • Wilson was very ill by this time, and Congress rejected the League.
  • The people of America hadn't liked the Versailles treaty, and refused to accept it. They thought the League of Nations was connected to it.
  • They believed it would be too expensive - many people wanted to stay out of Europe and wanted only to worry about American affairs.
  • This attitude was called Isolationism.
  • Many…


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