Setting up the League of Nations
The Organization of the League
The rules of the League =League Covenant and formed part of each peace treaty.
The League officially begun its work in January 1920. Geneva was chosen for the League headquarters because it was in Switzerland, which had a long tradition of neutrality.
Some officials worked permanently for the League in Geneva. They were known as the
Power in the League lay with a much smaller body known as the League Council. They made the key decisions and were a group of rich powerful countries: Britain, France, Italy and Japan, who were permanent members of the Council.
Council decisions had to be unanimous; all member-states had to agree. This made it difficult for the league to take action because if a member made a veto, a vote against an issue, then even though if the other three states agreed it would not be carried out.
All member states sent representatives to the League
Assembly. This body met at least once a year. However it had no real power and was not involved in making decisions. The League Assembly was set up into commissions and committees to deal with particular issues and problems. The most important were:
The ones which dealt with disarmament and the running of the “mandates” (former German and
The Health organisation - which campaigned to improve the health of people, particularly in poorer countries. The
League’s main aim was to solve
between countries in a peaceful way. The International Labour Organisation- Which tried to improve conditions for working people, especially in poorer countries. The peace treaties not only set up the League but established a group called the conference of ambassadors. This conference was supposed to oversight the way the peace treaties were put into effect. There was some uncertainty about which issues should be decided by the League and which should be sorted out by the conference of ambassadors.
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
Problems with the League
A European Club
Many non-Europeans were unhappy about the way in which the League gave power to European countries, as the Covenant mainly consisted of them: Britain, France and Italy.
In the first League’s Assembly, many non- Europeans criticised this. Argentina’s representative was particularly critical and argued for a democratic league, with the Council elected by all the countries of the Assembly. These ideas were rejected and Argentina walked out.
Also some non- European countries were worried that the League would be dominated by white people. The Japanese asked that the League should promise to oppose racial discrimination. The
Americans and the British rejected this proposal as they considered that more civilised states should have the job of looking after those who were not that civilised.
America Says “No” to the League
Woodrow Wilson was a democrat whilst the majority of the US Senate belonged to the
Republicans party. They disliked Wilson and believed that America should not get involved in international politics. Wilson failed to convince the Senate, and in March 1920 the Senate stopped The USA from joining the League.
The absence of the USA greatly weakened the authority of the League.
Forty five states that had either been in the winning side or had remained neutral during the First
World War were founder members of the League.
Germany and Austria-Hungary were not invited to join and so the League as a club of their enemies. Also the League was scared of the spread of communism and the Soviets were not invited to join. Lacking America, Germany and Russia the League couldn’t claim to be the voice of World opinion. Tension between Britain and France
The League was dominated by Britain and France who had different opinions about how it should work. The French felt threatened by Germany and wanted to make the League into a military alliance, with strict obligations on