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League of Nations Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

The intentions and authority of the League of Nations

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

The aims/o­rigins of the League of Nations

When was it founded? Where was it founded? How many members did it have at its peak?
Founded on January 10th 1920 after the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I (at its peak it had 58 members)
Who developed the LoN?
US President Woodrow Wilson
What was its principal mission?
To Maintain world peace
What was the primary goal?
Prevent wars through collective security and disarm­ament and settling
What was the plan for the intera­ction between the members of the LoN?
They were going to respect treaties and maintain good relati­onships with other nations
What other matters would the LoN be concerned with?
Labour condit­ions, Treatment of indigenous popula­tions, Human and drug traffi­cking, Arms dealing, Global health and poverty, Protection of minori­ties, Prisoners of war
What did the member states supposedly provide?
A system of collective security as a means to prevent wars
How did they see an aggressor?
An aggressor against one member nation would be considered and aggressor against all member nations, thus (suppo­sedly) acting as a deterrent
How did people see the LoN and were they effective?
Many looked to the League as a sense of stability to the world, however, the effect­iveness of the LoN in providing a stabil­ising influence over geopol­itics is very debatable
What were the sanctions the LoN could put into place when there were intern­ational disputes?
Moral sanctions: condem­nation of an action undertaken by a member state. -- Economic sanctions: suspending trade with an offending member state. -- Military sanctions: raise an army to fight an offending member state (the League did not have a military force, and there was no obligation for member nations to provide one, so this threat was often rather empty - and most nations knew this)
How would the sanctions be put into place?
These sanctions would be put into place in that order depending on upon the severity of the offence

Organi­sation of LoN

Role of the Assembly
All nations that were member nations could have three delegates, but with one vote in the Assembly, which met in September each year. The Assembly dealt with matters such as discussing issues relating to peace and security, the admission of new members, electing non- permanent members to the Council, determ­ining the budget and making amendments to the Covenant.
Role of the Council
The Council’s most important task was to settle intern­ational disputes. It met three times a year and reported back to the Assembly annually. The Council consisted of four permanent members – Britain, France, Italy and Japan. The United States was meant to be the fifth member, but the US Senate blocked the United States from becoming a member of the League. Germany was admitted as a member when it was finally allowed to join the League in 1926 (though it left in 1935). The Soviet Union joined in 1934 (but left in 1937). There were 10 non-pe­rmanent members who were elected for three-year terms. Australia served as a non-pe­rmanent member between 1933 and 1936.
Role of the Secret­ariat
The Secret­ary­-Ge­neral of the League of Nations was given the task of setting up the mechanisms to encourage intern­ational cooper­ation. The Secret­ariat consisted of a large staff, which evolved into an intern­ati­onally minded civil service that conducted the day-to-day business of the League. The Secret­ariat was respon­sible for the admini­str­ative work of the League in the public­ation of its activi­ties. Much of its work was divided into 11 specia­lised commis­sions that dealt with - politics, data collec­tion, law, economics and finance, transport, the rights of minori­ties, the oversight of the mandates, disarm­ament, health, social problems, intern­ational associ­ations.

Successes of the LoN

Czech Foreign Minister, Eduard Beneš (who was a strong supporter of the League) summed up what he thought were League successes up to 1932:
* The Permanent Court of Intern­ational Justice – in Beneš’ words, the World Court had ‘achieved wonders’ and it had become a ‘living factor for peace’.
* Disputes solved – disputes over the Aland Islands, Vilna, Upper Silesia, Albania and Memel were settled, as well as more serious conflicts between Greece and Italy (1923) and Greece and Bulgaria (1925). These were settled either by the Court or by arbitr­ation.
* Humani­tarian work – Beneš believed that the League had made great progress in the care of refugees, dealing with epidemics, fighting drugs (espec­ially opium), and the protection of children.
* Economic and financial cooper­ation – Beneš believed that the League had achieved ‘remar­kable success’ in fostering intern­ational cooper­ation in this area.
* Disarm­ament – Beneš believed that the Intern­ational Disarm­ament Confer­ence, which had just commenced at the time of writing in 1932, had ‘achieved a partial yet important success’.

Weaknesses of the LoN

No guarantee of cooper­ation from other nation
Unable to follow through with all sanctions
Absence of the US (the most powerful nation, blow to LoN’s prestige and intern­ational power)
Power was weakened when nations left (e.g. when Japan and Italy left)
Absence of Russia and withdrawal of Germany as they were two hugely powerful countries that were not part of the negoti­ations, limiting the power of the LoN
Linked with the Treaty of Versailles (that they created), and they were unable to maintain aspects of the treaty making the LoN seem ineffe­ctive, invasive and uncaring
The rise of dictators in several member countries weakened the effect­iveness of the LonN as there were ideolo­gically nation­alist and opposed intern­ational interv­ention in their affairs (League was powerless to act against their aggression - e.g. Japan left LoN when they opposed the invasion of Manchuria)
Way it was organised - decisions had to be unanimous (which is hard when there are so many nations) or offending parties could resume hostil­ities for the next three months until a decision could be reached
All permanent members had a veto and the Conference of Ambass­adors kept over ruling the decisions of the council

Diplomacy and Treaties

Washington Conference
The world’s largest gathering of naval powers convened in Washington between 1921 and 1922 to conclude three major treaties. In the Five-Power Treaty, it was agreed that the United States, British and Japanese navies should be in the ratio of 5:5:3. The Washington Conference was regarded as a success and had the effect of upholding the status quo in Europe.
Locarno Pact
German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann pursued a liberal policy and was willing to cooperate with the League. In October 1925, the Locarno Pact was signed by Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and Germany. This pact confirmed the existing frontiers and Germany reaffirmed the demili­tar­isation of the Rhineland. Germany was admitted to the League of Nations in 1926.
Kellog­g-B­riand Pact
The Kellog­g–B­riand Pact is also known as the Pact of Paris. It was strongly supported by French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, who initially proposed a bilateral agreement between the United States and France to outlaw war between them. However, US President Calvin Coolidge and US Secretary of State Frank Kellogg suggested inviting other nations to join. They were later joined by another 62 nations, so that it was signed by most of the countries in the world at that time. The two clauses agreed to were - outlaw war as an instrument of national policy and settle disputes by peaceful means. The Kellog­g–B­riand Pact was of great symbolic import­ance. However, there were no actual mechanisms to ensure that nations kept their word. In a time of relative global prosperity in 1928, many people believed that the world had now finally shaken off the effects of World War I and looked forward to intern­ational peace and security in the future.