Attempts made by nations to establish international organization were not sufficient enough to see them through. Besides, there was no political organization with the intention of bringing nations together, settling disputes and averting wars of a critical dimension.
The League of Nations was established in 1919 to prevent an outbreak of another war after the 1st World war, (1914 – 18) to remove some of the defects and causes of wars, and achieve international co-operation through the promotion of peace and security.
REASONS UNDERLINING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF LEAGUE OF NATIONS
- To remove Causes of Wars: This was made possible by reducing procurement of national armaments to the barest minimum so as to be in line with national safety. Nations agreed to respect and to preserve, as against external aggression, the political independence as well as the territorial integrity of members of the league.
- Dispute Between Nations: In the event of disputes procedures were in place to prevent such leading to war and that such disputes if capable of producing war should be submitted to arbitration or to judicial settlement or to inquiry by the league council.
- Keeping the Arrangement: If a member should go to war, provision was made to help the member state that did not break the promises. Those states that broke the arrangement should face trade or financial sanction.
- Protection of the Covenants: Similarly, the League Council should recommend to states the contribution to be made in terms of armed forces so as to protect the covenants of the League.
- Supervision of Trade in Arms and Ammunition: The League is entrusted with the supervision of trade in arms and ammunition for the common interest of the members. This is to enthrone peace and prevent wars.
PERMANENT INSTITUTIONS OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS.
These institutions were to be created to fulfill the objects of the League.
There was to be in place:
- An Assembly.
- A Council.
- A Secretariat.
- A Court of International Justice.
- International Labour Officer.
a) An Assembly: Three delegates to represent a state with only one vote. Representation is on an equal footing.
Function: To deal with matters within their range of action, threatening or affecting world peace.
b) A council: It is made up of 9 members of the five Great powers as permanent members and four non-permanent states were elected by the Assembly. Later, permanent members were reduced to 4 and non-permanent members increased to 9.
The principle of representation was to be maintained in the election of few countries into the council. This will come up periodically and it is to be conducted by the Assembly.
Meetings of the council would be more frequent than the Assembly.
- To carry on with the work of the League.
- It appointed and controlled various committees.
- The council was to appoint a Secretary General with the majority of the Assembly members approving.
- It was to prepare the agenda for the Assembly.
- To deal with issues, within the range of action of the League, affecting the peace of the world.
c) The Secretariat: The permanent organization of the League was appointed by the Secretary – General with the consent of the council.
- It provided the necessary continuity between one meeting of the Assembly or the council and the next meeting.
- It collected materials before any proceedings of the Assembly or the council and carried out the decisions taken.
Expenses: Contributions were made by members of the league to cover most of the meeting expenses.
d) The Permanent Court of International Justice: It was set up from 1920 to 1922 with the headquarters at the Hague, Netherlands. This court had 11 judges and 4 deputy judges elected for 9 years by the Assembly and the council.
- It settled disputes between states as were referred to it, with powers of judicial settlement.
- It gave opinions on issues referred to it by the council or the Assembly.
e) International Labour Office: This office tried to maintain and possibly secure fair and humane conditions of labour for men, women and children.
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
- Settlement of Disputes: The league helped in settling inter-states disputes especially when both parties in dispute are genuinely committed to peace. For e.g a border dispute between Turkey and Iraq, 1924-26.
- Colonial Administration: It supported, through the mandate system, the standard of colonial administration.
- The Minorities: Attention was to some extent focused on the necessity for fair treatment of minorities.
- Court of International Justice: This court delivered over 60 judgements.
- Improvement on the Condition of Labour: Attempts were made to improve the condition of labour through the international labour office.
- Co-operation in economic and social matters: Through the technical and social organisations, it helped in promoting international co-operation in economic and social matters.
- Health Matters: The health organization of the League helped to co-ordinate the efforts of various European governments to combat cholera and small pox epidemics as well as to conduct research work on the prevention of such diseases as tuberculosis and malaria.
- Prevention of Forced labour: There was the prevention of forced labour, preventing it from maturing into full slavery thus combating the traffic in women and children. It equally promoted child welfare and the eradication of drug trafficking.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
- The league did not succeed in settling disputes between powerful states: For example, the 1931 – 33 Sino or China Japan dispute.
- The League was not wide enough: As the U.S.A. remained outside it and later Japan, Germany and Italy left the body.
- A tool of manipulation: The league of Nations was a tool of manipulation in the hands of some powerful rich nations.
- Frequent secession: Any nation can secede from the league without coercion or restraint.
- Representatives not elected: Representatives at the League were appointed by the governments and not elected by the people of member-states.
- The League lacked Sovereign Power: It lacked all sovereign power to operate and formally ceased to exist in 1947.