The League of Nations The Interwar Years 1920s – 1930s The Four Aims of the League of Nations • Wilson wanted the League to be a kind of ‘world parliament’, where nations would sort out their arguments. • 4 Aims – Stop wars – improve people’s lives and jobs – Disarmament – enforce the Treaty of Versailles Organization of the League ASSEMBLY (PARLIAMENT) The League’s main meeting, held once a year. All League nations could attend. Decisions only by unanimous vote. COUNCIL Met 4-5 times a year and in crises to solve international disputes. 5 permanent members (Br, Fr, It, Jap & Ger after 1926). Permanent members had a veto. SECRETARIAT Comprised of officials who worked permanently at Geneva – were supposed to organize/ coordinate the different function of the League Too few secretaries to do the work – slow and inefficient Conference of Ambassadors Informal meetings of the more important countries. Not part of the League, but often made decisions. THE AGENCIES AND COMMISSIONS MANDATES COMMISSION COURT OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE 15 judges meeting at the Hague in the Netherlands. Gave decisions on, e.g., fishing and shipping disputes. Only made decisions when asked. Had no power to enforce decisions. SLAVERY COMMISSION To abolish slavery. Made sure that League countries were ruling their colonies properly. Administered League-controlled areas such as the Saar and Danzig. HEALTH COMMITTEE To improve public health world-wide. INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION Met once a year. Invited government, employers and workers representatives. To improve working conditions. REFUGEES COMMITTEE To help refugees and disaster victims. Strengths • Forty-two countries joined the League at the start. • In the 1930s about 60 countries were members. • All signed the 26 promises of the Covenant – notably Article 10, in which nations promised to keep the peace and help nations which were attacked. This made the League seem strong. • Britain and France were the main members, helped by Italy and Japan; they were quite powerful countries. Strengths • Community of Power: League publicly declares a country is wrong, public opinion forces it to stop • Arbitration: League plays “referee between two countries • Trade Sanctions: Members of the League agree not to trade with offending country • Collective Security: League members agree to back each other up in military conflict Weaknesses • The Assembly could only make a decision by a unanimous vote (so it never made any decisions), • On the Council, all the permanent members had a veto. • The Secretariat was understaffed and always in a terrible muddle. When there was a crisis, no-one could agree. Weaknesses • Too much power to Europe: Britain, France and Italy • These countries helped start WWI…why should the League trust them not to start another war? • Japan wanted a promise to oppose racial discrimination – rejected • Covenant – patronizing view of colonists – “civilized” countries should take care people who couldn’t stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world. Weaknesses • The most powerful countries in the world were not members. – The USA did not want to join. – The Russians refused to join – weren’t asked. They were Communists and hated Britain and France. In 1919 they set up the Comintern to spread communist revolutions. – Germany was not allowed to join – part of the Treaty of Versailles. – Without these three big powers, the League was weak.