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History

Aims, organisations and powers

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The Covenant of the League of Nations was built into the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the First World War. The League was Wilson's dream for a new world order - a new way of conducting foreign affairs that would abolish war and keep the world safe, but less than a quarter of a century later Wilson's dream lay in ruins.

Aims, strengths and weaknesses - the basics

The League of Nations was set up by the Treaty of Versailles.

  • Its aims were to stop wars, encourage disarmament, and make the world a better place by improving people's working conditions, and by tackling disease.
  • Its organisation comprised an assembly, which met once a year; a council, which met more regularly to consider crises; a small secretariat to handle the paperwork; a Court of International Justice; and a number of committees such as the International Labour Organisation and the Health Committee to carry out its humanitarian work.
  • Its main strengths was that it had set up by the Treaty of Versailles, which every nation had signed, and it had 58 nations as members by the 1930s. To enforce its will, it could offer arbitration through the Court of International Justice, or apply trade sanctions against countries that went to war.
  • Its main weaknesses were the fact that it was set up by the Treaty of Versailles (which every nation hated); that its aims were too ambitious; that Germany, Russia and the USA were not members; that it had no army; that its organisation was cumbersome; and that decisions had to be unanimous.

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