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History

Aims, organisations and powers

The Covenant of the League of Nations

League of Nations

The League of Nations was set up by the first 26 clauses of the Treaty of Versailles - called 'The Covenant of the League of Nations'. The table below is a summary.

Summary of the key articles

ArticleDetails
3. Set up the assembly - a meeting of all members of the League.42 countries were members (rising to 58 in 1934). The USA, USSR and Germany - the three greatest powers in the world - were not members.
4. Set up the council (Britain, France, Italy and Japan, plus four other countries elected by the assembly), which met four to five times a year and in times of crisis.Allowed the League to respond quickly to crises. However, the council members were not the most powerful countries in the world, and were not prepared to use their armies. Also sometimes council members were involved in the trouble.
5. Said that agreements of the assembly and council had to be unanimous.Made it very hard to get anything done.
6. Set up the Secretariat.Too small to handle the vast work of the League.
8. Promised to seek disarmament.Conferences in 1923 and 1932-33 failed.
11. The League shall... safeguard the peace of nations.'Over-ambitious?
13. Planned for the arbitration of disputes.Only worked if both sides agreed.
14. Set up the Court of International Justice.Could advise on international law and arbitrate in disputes, but had no power to enforce its decisions.
15. Planned for trade sanctions against any country that went to war.Trade sanctions damaged the countries of the League as well as the country that had gone to war.
22. Set up the Mandates Commission to look after the former colonies of Germany and Turkey.The mandates were administered by France and Britain, two council members.
23. The League promised to improve conditions for workers, stop drug trafficking, help trade and control disease.Over-ambitious?

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