League of Nations - a Success or a Failure?

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After the First World War everyone wanted to avoid repetition of the mass slaughter of the war that had just ended. US was horrified by such an act, therefore, President Woodrow Wilson suggested an international body whose sole purpose was to maintain World peace. Before 1920 there was no such organization or place where the national Delegates could meet up and try to talk their way through their problems. After the War with great number of deaths, this idea was liked by almost everyone. Its main task was to sort out international disputes whenever they occurred. The League aimed to discourage aggression from any nation, to encourage countries to co-operate, especially in business and trade, to encourage nations to disarm, to improve the living and working conditions of people in all parts of the world.

The headquarters of the League was based in Geneva, Switzerland. There where no disputes here as this was and is a neutral country and did not take part in the WWI. This country already had an international organization running here, Red Cross. The Covenant laid out the structure and rules for each of the bodies within the organization. However, the very democratic organization of the League was a great problem. The top most element of the League was the Assembly. This was the League's Parliament. Every country in the League sent a representative to the assembly. This only met once a year and it needed the agreement of ALL member countries before taking a decision. It represented all members, states regardless of size, and they all had a vote each. The assembly did not really have power at all and most decisions were compromises. The council was a smaller group and met more often, usually five times a year and on emergencies. It included the permanent and the temporary members. It was conquered by the permanent members. These were the major powers: Britain, France, Japan and Italy in the 1920s. The temporary ones were elected by the assembly for a three year period. The permanent countries had a Veto. This means that they could say no to a decision even if all the others agreed and that would block the decision. On a Dispute or a problem, the council had three options/steps. First step: Verbal Sanctions, a warning was given to the offender to leave the invaded territory or else. Second step was to impose Economic sanctions on the country. This meant that all the member countries had to completely stop trade with the offending Nation and push it towards bankruptcy. But how was this possible when all the member countries were busy rebuilding the nations? This was one of the reasons why the US did not join the League. Third step was to impose Physical Sanctions – Military force was to be used against the offender but the League did not have an army. The League army was its member's army but often the members were not willing to risk their armies and navies for other countries. The court of Justice had no power like the assembly. They would just make judgements and hope they were obeyed. The secretariat was a sort of civil service. It kept records of the leagues meetings and prepared for reports for different agencies. This had sections providing humanitarian aid. The League took ages to take a decision but they did the best they could in their time. The technology was just not with them. They language was a major problem as well as there was no common language back then. The structural problems of the League stopped them from fulfilling their aims. The League did a lot of activities in the 1920s. It had the support from most major countries. There were a couple of failures for the League in the 1920s. For example: Vilna. Many years before 1920, Vilna was under Russian control but long before that, it was the capital of Lithuania. Vilna now had only 2% Lithuanians and 30% Poles. Thus in 1920 the poles seized the city. Then the Lithuanians asked the League for help. But they were incapable of persuading them to leave the...
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