Uploaded by Donna Glockling

Confict and Tension part 2 the League of Nations

To what extent was the League of Nations ‘toothless’?
Learning objectives: To know what the League was and how it worked. Explain
the ways in which it tried to help people and assess how it worked in practice
What was the League of Nations and why was it created?
During the First World War,
many people wanted to set up
an organization that would
encourage countries to work
together when they had
problems and work their
differences, rather that
resort to fighting. At the end
of the war, US President,
Woodrow Wilson wanted to set
up the League of Nations.
What exactly was the League
of Nations and how was it
going to work?
TASK: Complete the true/false
activity to find out what the
League was and why it was
The League of Nations was a vision for bringing the
world together in peace. It was a group of countries
that would work together and solve problems, like a
world parliament. It was the idea of the French
prime minister Clemenceau.
The League had 4 main aims:
To stop war from breaking out
To encourage disarmament
To improve working conditions
To tackle deadly diseases
When first formed there were 45 members
including Russia and Germany. This rose to 58 by
1934. There were 6 permanent members of the
council who made all the big decisions: Britain,
France, Italy, Japan and the USA.
The USA was a hugely important member of the
The League was based in Switzerland – they had not
been involved in the war, so it was seen as a peaceful
country. Also the Red Cross were based there so it
seemed like a good place for the headquarters.
Germany was allowed to join in 1926 under the
Locarno treaty – they remained a proud member
throughout the 1930s, along with Italy and Japan.
True or
Correct statement
David Lloyd George was always very keen to join the
League of Nations and only saw it as a selfless way
to keep world peace. He thought it was real power to
keep peace.
The League was suppose to work through collective
security – the ideas that if all countries could work
together they could make sure that peace was kept
and that the interests of every nation were looked
There was no courts set up to try and ensure every
country was following the same laws and therefore
being less change of disagreeing
If the League couldn’t prevent disputes they set up
a covenant to help deal with aggression:
1. Mitigation – countries get together to talk
about their problems
2. Moral condemnation – a good telling off
3. Economic sanctions – members of the League
would not trade with the naughty countries!
The League had it’s own army and did not need the
military support of it’s members to enforce the
True or
Correct statement
Why do you think historian’s have called
the League of Nations toothless?
What was the structure of the League of Nations?
The aims of the League of Nations
were very ambitious. They hoped to
settle disputes, encourage countries to
get rid of their weapons, make the
world a better place by improving
working conditions, and tackle deadly
To ensure that it’s aims were met the
League had to run smoothly, so it was
divided into different sections that
focused on certain issues. Lots of
historians say that the League was
doomed to failure because its
structure and organization was flawed
from day one. Let’s see if you agree…
TASK: Match up each body of the
League of Nations to what this did.
What did they do?
The Assembly
An assembly that met once a year and had 42 members was too slow and large to ensure the League ran smoothly – so
they had a council which meant more frequently. The council had 4 permanent members: BRITAIN, FRANCE, ITALY
AND JAPAN. Four other countries would be chosen to sit on the Council, each for a 3 year term. This later increased
to nine non-permanent members.
The council had the power of VETO – it could stop a ruling with it’s vote. EVEN IF THE ASSEMBLY DID MANAGE TO
The Secretariat
The League of Nations worked like an international parliament. Every member could send representatives to the
• They met once a year to discuss and vote on matters
• Every country had an equal vote – and votes had to be unanimous – every country had to agree or a motion could not
be passed.
• The assembly decided if a new country could join
• They elected judges to the Permanent Court of International Justice
• They decided how the League’s money was spent
The Council
This was the CIVIL SERVICE of the League meaning it was in charge of ADMINISTRATION AND ORGANSING any
action that the LEAGUE wanted to take. It was a body of experts from different areas, such as finance, who were
responsible for carrying out any decisions taken by the League with the exception of military issues
The Permanent Court of
International Justice
Special Commissions
These were special groups put together to tackle issues that the League was worried about. They included:
• The international Labour Organisation
• The Disarmament Commission
• The Health organization
• The Slavery commission
• The Commission for Refugees
There were also commissions that helped undeveloped countries and supported minority groups like women
This was a court of law that would settle international arguments. Any country could bring an issue to the court and 11
judges and four deputy judges would listen to advise the parties involved in the argument. HOWEVER THIS WAS
JUST ADVISE – it wasn’t a COMPULSORY RULING and since the League had no army it was difficult to make
countries agree unless they wanted to!
The court was elected by the assembly and the council and judges would fill the role for 11 YEARS
Was the League of Nations an international
organization where everyone was equal?
Highlight in one colour on your
table where you can find
evidence to show that all
countries had equal powers – in
another colour evidence that
shows some countries were more
powerful than others
Why were Britain
and France able to
dominate the
Was the League doomed from the start?
Some historians argue
that the ‘Structure of
the League meant it
was always going to fail’
What do you think – do
you agree?
Yes, the
organization and
structure of
League had so
many weaknesses
it meant it was
always going to
No the League
had many
strengths and it
was not always
destined to fail