Today in History- November 15: the rise and fall of League of Nations

November 15 is the 319th day of the year. There are 46 days remaining until the end of the year.
A drive leads past a manicured lawn to large white rectangular building with a columns on it facade. Two wings of the building are set back from the middle section.
Palace of Nations, Geneva,
the League's headquarters from
1936 until its dissolution in 1946


Today's Highlight in History-
1920 – First assembly of the League of Nations is held in Geneva, Switzerland.


The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organisation founded on 10 January 1920 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first international organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members.
The League of Nations' Assembly building in Geneva
The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift from the preceding hundred years. The League lacked its own armed force and depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, keep to its economic sanctions, or provide an army when needed. However, the Great Powers were often reluctant to do so. Sanctions could hurt League members, so they were reluctant to comply with them. 

When, during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, the League accused Italian soldiers of targeting Red Cross medical tents, Benito Mussolini responded that "the League is very well when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out."After a number of notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. Germany withdrew from the League, as did Japan, Italy, Spain, and others. The onset of the Second World War showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to prevent any future world war. The League lasted for 26 years; the United Nations (UN) replaced it after the end of the Second World War on 20 April 1946 and inherited a number of agencies and organisations founded by the League.The concept of a peaceful community of nations had been proposed as far back as 1795, when Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace: 

A Philosophical Sketch outlined the idea of a league of nations to control conflict and promote peace between states. Kant argued for the establishment of a peaceful world community, not in a sense of a global government, but in the hope that each state would declare itself a free state that respects its citizens and welcomes foreign visitors as fellow rational beings, thus promoting peaceful society worldwide.International co-operation to promote collective security originated in the Concert of Europe that developed after the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century in an attempt to maintain the status quo between European states and so avoid war. This period also saw the development of international law, with the first Geneva Conventions establishing laws dealing with humanitarian relief during wartime, and the international Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 governing rules of war and the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
Lord Bryce, one of the earliest
advocates for a League of Nations.
The forerunner of the League of Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was formed by the peace activists William Randal Cremer and Frédéric Passy in 1889. The organisation was international in scope, with a third of the members of parliaments (in the 24 countries that had parliaments) serving as members of the IPU by 1914.
 Its aims were to encourage governments to solve international disputes by peaceful means. Annual conferences were held to help governments refine the process of international arbitration. Its structure consisted of a council headed by a president, which would later be reflected in the structure of the League.
At the start of the First World War the first schemes for international organisation to prevent future wars, began to gain considerable public support, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a British political scientist, coined the

term "League of Nations" in 1914 and drafted a scheme for its organisation. Together with Lord Bryce, he played a leading role in the founding of the group of internationalist pacifists known as the Bryce Group, later the League of Nations Union. The group became steadily more influential among the public and as a pressure group within the then governing Liberal Party. In Dickinson's 1915 pamphlet After the War he wrote of his "League of Peace" as being essentially an organisation for arbitration and conciliation. He felt that the secret diplomacy of the early twentieth century had brought about war and thus could write that, "the impossibility of war, I believe, would be increased in proportion as the issues of foreign policy should be known to and controlled by public opinion." The ‘Proposals’ of the Bryce Group were circulated widely, both in England and the US, where they had a profound influence on the nascent international movement.

The British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour commissioned the first official report into the matter in early 1918, under the initiative of Lord Robert Cecil. The British committee was finally appointed in February 1918. It was led by Walter Phillimore (and became known as the Phillimore Committee), but also included Eyre Crowe, William Tyrrell, and Cecil Hurst.The recommendations of the so-called Phillimore Commission included the establishment of a "Conference of Allied States" that would arbitrate disputes and impose sanctions on offending states. The proposals were approved by the British government, and much of the commission's results were later incorporated into the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Jan Smuts helped to draft the
Covenant of the League of Nations.


At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Wilson, Cecil, and Smuts all put forward their draft proposals. After lengthy negotiations between the delegates, the Hurst-Miller draft was finally produced as a basis for the Covenant After more negotiation and compromise, the delegates finally approved of the proposal to create the League of Nations (French: Société des Nations, German:Völkerbund) on 25 January 1919. 

The final Covenant of the League of Nations was drafted by a special commission, and the League was established by Part I of the Treaty of Versailles. On 28 June 1919, 44 states signed the Covenant, including 31 states which had taken part in the war on the side of the Triple Entente or joined it during the conflict.


The League would be made up of a General Assembly (representing all member states), an Executive Council (with membership limited to major powers), and a
permanent secretariat. Member states were expected to "respect and preserve as against external aggression" the territorial integrity of other members and to disarm "to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety." All states were required to submit complaints for arbitration or judicial inquiry before going to war.The Executive Council would create a Permanent Court of International Justice to make judgements on the disputes.


Despite Wilson's efforts to establish and promote the League, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1919,the United States did not join. Opposition in the Senate, particularly from two Republican politicians, Henry Cabot Lodge and William Borah, and especially in regard to Article X of the Covenant, ensured that the United States would not ratify the agreement.


The League held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920, six days after the Versailles Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations came into force. On 1 November 1920, the headquarters of the League was moved from London to Geneva, where the first General Assembly was held on 15 November 1920.
Chinese delegate addresses the
League of Nations concerning
the Manchurian Crisisin 1932.
The League oversaw the Permanent Court of International Justice and several other agencies and commissions created to deal with pressing international problems. These included the Disarmament Commission, the Health Organisation, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Mandates Commission, the International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation (precursor to UNESCO), the Permanent Central Opium Board, the Commission for Refugees, and the Slavery Commission. Several of these institutions were transferred to the United Nations after the Second World War: the International Labour Organization, the Permanent Court of International Justice (as the International Court of Justice), and the Health

Organisation (restructured as the World Health Organisation).


Of the League's 42 founding members, 23 (24 counting Free France) remained members until it was dissolved in 1946. In the founding year, six other states joined, only two of which remained members throughout the League's existence. An additional 15 countries joined later. The largest number of member states was 58, between 28 September 1934 (when Ecuador joined) and 23 February 1935 (when Paraguay withdrew).


The Soviet Union became a member on 18 September 1934, and was expelled on 14 December 1939 foraggression against Finland. In expelling the Soviet Union, the League broke its own rule: only 7 of 15 members of the Council voted for expulsion (Great Britain, France, Belgium, Bolivia, Egypt, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic), short of the majority required by the Covenant. Three of these members had been made Council members the day before the vote (South Africa, Bolivia, and Egypt). This was one of the League's final acts before it practically ceased functioning due to the Second World War


On 26 May 1937, Egypt became the last state to join the League. The first member to withdraw permanently from the League was Costa Rica on 22 January 1925; having joined on 16 December 1920, this also makes it the member to have most quickly withdrawn. Brazil was the first founding member to withdraw (14 June 1926), and Haiti the last (April 1942). Iraq, which joined in 1932, was the first member that had previously been a League of Nations mandate.


As the situation in Europe escalated into war, the Assembly transferred enough power to the Secretary General on 30 September 1938 and 14 December 1939 to allow the League to continue to exist legally and carry on reduced operations. The headquarters of the League, the Palace of Nations, remained unoccupied for nearly six years until the Second World War ended.


At the 1943 Tehran Conference, the Allied powers agreed to create a new body to replace the League: the United Nations. Many League bodies, such as the International Labour Organization, continued to function and eventually became affiliated with the UN. The designers of the structures of the United Nations intended to make it more effective than the League.


The final meeting of the League of Nations took place on 12 April 1946 in Geneva. Delegates from 34 nations attended the assembly.This session concerned itself with liquidating the League: it transferred assets worth approximately US$22,000,000 in 1946, (including the Palace of Peace and the League's archives) to the UN, returned reserve funds to the nations that had supplied them, and settled the debts of the League. Robert Cecil, addressing the final session, said:

Let us boldly state that aggression wherever it occurs and however it may be defended, is an international crime, that it is the duty of every peace-loving state to resent it and employ whatever force is necessary to crush it, that the machinery of the Charter, no less than the machinery of the Covenant, is sufficient for this purpose if properly used, and that every well-disposed citizen of every state should be ready to undergo any sacrifice in order to maintain peace ... I venture to impress upon my hearers that the great work of peace is resting not only on the narrow interests of our own nations, but even more on those great principles of right and wrong which nations, like individuals, depend.

The League is dead. Long live the United Nations.

The motion that dissolved the League passed unanimously: "The League of Nations shall cease to exist except for the purpose of the liquidation of its affairs." It also set the date for the end of the League as the day after the session closed. On 19 April 1946, the President of the Assembly, Carl J. Hambro of Norway, declared "the twenty-first and last session of the General Assembly of the League of Nations closed". The League of Nations ceased to exist the following day.


Professor David Kennedy portrays the League as a unique moment when international affairs were "institutionalized", as opposed to the pre–First World War methods of law and politics.The principal Allies in the Second World War (the UK, the USSR, France, the US, and the Republic of China) became permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in 1946. (In 1971 the People's Republic of China replaced the Republic of China (Taiwan) as permanent member of the UN Security Council, and in 1991 the Russian Federation replaced the USSR.) Decisions of the Security Council are binding on all members of the UN; however, unanimous decisions are not required, unlike in the League Council. Permanent members of the Security Council can wield a veto to protect their vital interests.


Like its predecessor, the United Nations does not have its own standing armed forces, but calls on its members to contribute to armed interventions, such as during the Korean War and for the peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia.

Wikipedia



World Events


1791 – The first U.S. Catholic college, Georgetown University, opens its doors.
1859 – The first modern revival of the Olympic Games takes place in Athens, Greece.
1889 – Brazil is declared a republic by Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca as Emperor Pedro II is deposed in a military coup.
1914 – Harry Turner becomes the first player to die from game-related injuries in the "Ohio League", the direct predecessor to the National Football League.
1920 – First assembly of the League of Nations is held in Geneva, Switzerland.
1922 – Over 1,000 are massacred during a general strike in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
1926 – The NBC radio network opens with 24 stations.
1935 – Manuel L. Quezon is inaugurated as the second President of the Philippines.
1939 – In Washington, D.C., US President Franklin D. Roosevelt lays the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial.
1942 – World War II: First flight of the Heinkel He 219.
1945 – Venezuela joins the United Nations.
1949 – Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte are executed for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.
1971 – Intel releases the world's first commercial single-chip microprocessor, the 4004.
1978 – A chartered Douglas DC-8 crashes near Colombo, Sri Lanka, killing 183.
1985 – The Anglo-Irish Agreement is signed at Hillsborough Castle by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald.
1987 – Continental Airlines Flight 1713, a Douglas DC-9-14 jetliner, crashes in a snowstorm at Denver's Stapleton International Airport, killing 28 occupants, while 54 survive the crash.
1988 – Israeli–Palestinian conflict: An independent State of Palestine is proclaimed by the Palestinian National Council.
1990 – Space Shuttle program: Space Shuttle Atlantis launches with flight STS-38.
1990 – The Communist People's Republic of Bulgaria is disestablished and a new republican government is instituted.
2000 – A chartered Antonov An-24 crashes after takeoff from Luanda, Angola, killing more than 40 people.
2000 – Jharkhand state comes into existence in India.
2003 – The first day of the 2003 Istanbul bombings, in which two car bombs, targeting two synagogues, explode, killing 25 people and wounding about 300. Additional bombings follow on November 20.
2006 – Al Jazeera English launches worldwide.
2007 – Cyclone Sidr hits Bangladesh, killing an estimated 5,000 people and destroying parts of the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans.
2012 – Four people are killed and 16 others are injured in the Midland train crash after a Union Pacific train struck a parade float in Midland, Texas.

Popular posts from this blog

Broken- my latest book

I’m proud of being both man and woman- Gospel Singer

The force of positive thinking- a book