The League of Nations and the Failure of Global Cooperation

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It was the President of the USA Woodrow Wilson the most powerful advocate of the League, since his 14 points intended to serve as the basis for world peace. Point 14 says: “A general association of nations should be formed …to create mutual guarantees of the political independence and territorial integrity of States, large and small equally.”


The Assembly (representatives of all Members of the League), The Council, The Secretariat, The Permanent Court of I Justice (the first attempt to create a global forum of justice) and The International Labor Organization

The League tried to establish a New global order: based on Multilateralism and Cooperation, members agreed to work together to maintain peace, to control national armaments and to cooperate in solving social, economic, colonial, humanitarian and other common problems. Open Diplomacy. A system of Collective Security, making State´s security a community responsibility in which the collective force of the state system would be used to constrain an international lawbreaker (instead the balance of power). The Covenant did not outlaw war but regulated the state´s resort to this ultimate action: members agreed to submit their disputes to arbitration or adjudication and in no case to resort to war until three months after a settlement was offered. If any state resorted to war in violation of the covenant, members would apply diplomatic and economic sanctions and consider the violation an act of war against the world community.The Members of the League undertake to respect… the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression… the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled (article 10).Any war… is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations (article 11) The League sought to guarantee the Self-Determination of peoplesof the A-H Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire and after the dissolution of the Empires new States were created: Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Romania, Turkey... And it established a Mandate System: German and Turkish possessions, which were judged not yet ready to govern themselves, were distributed among the victorious Allied powers. It was a compromise between the Allies’ wish to retain the former German and Turkish colonies and their pre-Armistice declaration that annexation of territory was not their aim in the war. The mandates were divided into three groups on the basis of their location and their level of political and economic development and were then assigned to individual Allied victors. Several international disagreements were resolved peacefully: between Sweden and Finland (Aaland Islands), Germany and Poland (Upper Silesia), Greece and Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania, Turkey and Iraq… Though relatively minor, these were just the kind of incidents that had in the past triggered regional conflicts - and indeed World War One itself.Outside the auspices of the League of Nations, but favored by the more stable international relations it contributed to create. The pact of Locarno, 1925 : Germany renounced the use of force to change its western frontiers but agreed only to arbitration as regards its eastern frontiers. Various naval conferences were held to limit the number of warships of the five great naval powers. The Geneva Protocol 25 prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons. The Kellog-Briand Pact: the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War, 1928: It established that the use of military force was in contravention of international law, except in matters of self-defense. The pact served as the legal basis for the creation of the notion of crime against peace — it was for committing this crime that theNuremberg Tribunal sentenced a number of persons responsible for starting World War II. In 1929, the delegate from France, Aristide Briand, put forward to the Assembly the very first political project of a European Federal Union. Failures of the League of Nations, mainly from the 30s .USA was not ever a League Member .The economic depression destroyed the cannels of cooperation the League had created. A new wave of nationalism, as member states became obsessed with national security.Japanese, Italian and German Fascism posed successive political and military challenges with which the member states were unwilling or unable to cope. Japan: The Manchurian Case, 1931: Japan attacked Manchuria and China, following the Assembly´s action condemning Japan of aggression, Tokyo withdrew from the League. Italy: The Ethiopian Case 1936: Italy annexed Ethiopia, the League only imposed economic sanctions, powers wanted to keep Italy as a counterbalance to Germany. Germany: The annexation of Austria by Germany 1938 and when Germany invades Poland World War II starts.

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