Here is an essay on the ‘League of Nations’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on the ‘League of Nations’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on the League of Nations
- Essay on Origin of the League of Nations
- Essay on Membership of the League
- Essay on Structure of the League
- Essay on Objects of the League
- Essay on Functions and Achievements of the League
Essay # 1. Origin of the League of Nations:
Man is a peace-loving animal. What is anger in a man’s life is war in the life of a state. After the dust of the war settles down there is a search for peace. After the Thirty Years’ War was over a peace formula was evolved to maintain the peace in Europe.
At the close of the Napoleonic War there came into being a peace machinery called the Concert of Europe. Both the efforts could not perpetuate peace in Europe or the world.
So took place the First World War which had a record of human casualty and destruction of national property. So there was an increased discussion on the need of peace which could be possible only by goodwill and tolerance. So, during the explosive days of the war there was an ever-growing talk on how to enforce peace in the world.
The League of Nations was born close on the heels of the First World War. As a matter of fact, the conditions of the global war like the reactions 21 to the horrors of the war and the desire to keep the balance of power for the safeguard of the nations were the immediate factors responsible for this world body.
The reaction of heavy bloodshed and death of ten millions of population and devastation of property worth Rs. 386.000,000,000 made every country harbour the idea of keeping away from the war, which brought in its wake famine, pestilence and economic ruination.
The coming of a war could be checked if there was a balance of power in Europe, which alone can guarantee against aggression. Thus the creation of the League of Nations had a holy purpose.
In the USA there emerged a public opinion called a “League to Enforce Peace” in June 1915 with a four point programme. The Republican leader William Howard Taft took a leading role in it. This was backed by wide public support.
The League called for the submission of all international disputes to arbitration, called the Council of Conciliation. It also suggested the use of economic and military force by all states against the warring state. It also recommended for periodical congresses to codify international law.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson of the USA expressed the desire to participate in any association of nations. This was a period when the USA remained neutral in the First World War. After the USA joined the war club, she insisted that peace in future can be maintained only by a partnership of all democratic countries on a world basis.
One of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points carried a proposal for an Association of Nations to ensure mutual guarantee of political independence and territorial integrity of all states. A draft entitled “Proposals for Avoidance of War” was published in 1915, which contained a preface written by Lord James Bryce.
This was quickly followed by the establishment of “The League of Nations Society” in 1915 and “The League of Free Nations Associations” in 1918. These two bodies were amalgamated into the “League of Nations Union.”
A draft convention was drawn up by the British Foreign Office in March 1918. Wilson’s first draft was done in July 1918. It was General Smuts’ plan in December 1918 that outlined the Council and the Mandate System. Wilson prepared the second draft on 10 January 1919 and the third one ten days hence.
These three drafts were revised and sent to the League of Nations Commission of the Peace Conference for its consideration under the chairmanship of Wilson. On 28 April 1919 the draft was unanimously adopted and the Covenant of the League of Nations was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed by the German Delegation on 28 June 1919. The League of Nations was formally inaugurated in 19 January 1920 with its headquarters at Geneva in Switzerland.
Essay # 2. Membership of the League:
The members of the league were of two categories – original members and non-original members. Those countries that signed the Versailles Peace Treaty and accepted the Covenant of the League before 20 March 1920 were the original members. The non-original members could be included in the League by a resolution adopted by two-thirds votes in the assembly of the League.
The withdrawal or removal of a member was done in three ways:
(i) By giving a notice for such withdrawal two years in advance;
(ii) The League could expel any member on the ground that it violated any norm of the covenant; and
(iii) Any member not accepting or ratifying any amendment would automatically cease to be a member.
Essay # 3. The Structure of the League:
The structure of the league consisted of five organs, namely the Assembly, the Council the Secretariat, the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Labour Organisation. These are taken up one after another:
i. The Assembly:
The Assembly was the principal organ of the League. It consisted of the representatives of the various states which were members of the League. All the decisions of the League were to be unanimous. One member state had only one vote. The Assembly would discuss on the political and economic issues which had a bearing on the peace or danger for the world.
The Assembly would render advice to the member states to reconsider the questions of amendment of the treaties that fell through by lapse of time. In addition to the supervision of the work of the Council, it would revise the budget presented by the Secretariat.
ii. The Council:
The executive organ of the League was called the Council. It was comprised of the permanent members, the non-permanent members and the ad hoc members. Its original permanent members were England, France, Italy, Japan and the USA. Germany and Russia were given permanent seats on their entry in 1926 and 1934, respectively. The non-permanent members were elected by the Assembly for a tenure of three years.
There were eleven non-permanent members. The council stet to meet at least once a year. Its jurisdiction of action was any issue that involved the general peace of the world. It was to evolve ways and means to reduce armament by the member states. It was also required to plug the making of munitions and implements of war by private bodies. Its main function was to safeguard the territorial integrity of each member states.
If a dispute would run riot, the Council would institute an enquiry into it which should be completed within six months. Whenever any member stale would adopt belligerency, it was enjoined upon the Council to ask the other member states to contribute their military, naval and air potentialities to protect the interest of the aggrieved country. Any conflict between the member and non-member states was also taken up by the Council, which would diffuse the crisis by an acceptable settlement.
iii. The Secretariat:
The Secretariat was the administrative organ of the League. Its headquarters was located at Geneva in Switzerland. The Secretary-General was the head of this establishment. The employees of the Secretariat were appointed by the Secretary-General in consultation with the Council.
The staff of the Secretariat had certain privileges and immunities in their official capacities. The member states had to contribute towards the expenditure of the Secretariat. Unlike the Assembly and the Council which functioned from time to time, the Secretariat had to work round the year without any break.
iv. The Permanent Court of International Justice:
This body was commonly known as the World Court. Its judges were appointed by the Assembly and the Council. The permanent seat of the court was at the Hague. The court had fifteen judges whose tenure was for nine years. The judges could be re-elected. Every member state referring a dispute to the court could appoint one judge of its nationality, if it had no such judge in the court. Its budget was prepared by the Assembly.
The main function of the court is to interpret any dispute in international law and determine when any treaty obligation was violated. It had the authority to give advice to the Assembly and the Council whenever such opinion was sought for. By 1937 as many as forty-one states agreed to submit before the World Court all disputes, to which they were a party in regard to international law and international treaty. No appeal would lie against the order of the court. But the court could review and change its decision on the basis of new facts and circumstances.
v. International Labour Organisation:
Since labour was a new factor in the national life of all countries after the Industrial and Technological Revolution, the League considered it prudent to have an organ on this new field. The organisation aimed at improving the conditions of labour in all corners of the globe. Its governing council was comprised of the representatives of the governments, employers and workers.
In its annual meeting the organisations would take major decisions on labour. Several international organisations and unions were subjected to the control and advice of the organisation. The most important of them were International Commission for Air Navigation, International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, International Bureau for Information and Enquiries Regarding Relief to Foreigners, International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, Central International Office for the Control of Liquor Traffic in Africa, etc.
Essay # 4. Objects of the League:
The aim of the League was to remove the war conditions from all corners of the globe. The belligerent temperature of the globe and war hysteria which had transformed the world into a power magazine might explode into conflagrations any moment. There was talk and strong feeling that if mankind was to be saved from the catastrophe which awaited it, it should replace international anarchy by international order.
The doctrine of international solidarity must take the place of the doctrine of national sovereignty. What is the doctrine of internationalism? It stands for a family of self-respecting and self-governing nations unified to each other by ties of equality and living at peace and concerned with each other.
There must be an end of throttling the throat of a neighbour. Internationalism tells us that peace can only come, from our having confidence and trust in each other. It is based on the goodwill and tolerance between all the nations of the world.
The basic objective of the League was to promote international cooperation and to achieve international peace and security. The members of the League agreed that in the case of a dispute likely to disturb the peace they would submit the matter for orders by the Council or a judicial decision by the World Court In case any member state resorted to war, that member would be considered as the committer of an act of war against all other members of the League. Thus the League of Nations was the first major endeavour as an international organisation to maintain peace and international cooperation in the globe.
Essay # 5. Functions and Achievements of the League:
The league started functioning with a note of promise. It achieved some remarkable triumphs in ending some international disputes.
It has also success in social and economic fields:
(i) The affair of the Aaland islands was a record achievement of the League. Sweden and Finland were claimants of the island which was the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia. In 1921 the League permitted Finland to retain sovereignty over the island and the inhabitants who were Swedish were granted local self-government. This was a great step forward in the peaceful settlement of international problems.
(ii) The league had a hard task over the Corfu incident involving Italy and Greece in 1923. The crisis arose over the murder of four Italian members of a commission in Greek territory. The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini seized the opportunity and sent an ultimatum to Greece, who appealed to the League for help. The League asked Greece to pay a huge sum as compensation to Italy. On receipt of the amount, Italy withdrew from Corfu. In this way the League succeeded in averting a war.
(iii) The international boundary between Poland and Germany and between Yugoslavia and Albania was laid down by the League. A menacing quarrel between Turkey and England over rich oil deposits in Iraq was also amicably solved by the League in 1924.
(iv) The League made some praiseworthy progress in the exchange and repatriation of nearly 500,000 prisoners of war. It saved from certain starvation 1,000,000 persons in the Greco-Turkish War of 1921-1922. The League also lent the desperately needed financial aid to Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Free City of Danzig.
(v) The League introduced a system called the “mandate”, under which the territories captured from the central powers and Turkey were to be kept under the supervision of various countries. The League exercised its supervision over the working of the mandates, which were devised to promote the welfare of the backward sections under the guidance of the major powers like England, France, Belgium, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. This not only put an end to the annexation of the dependent states by the victorious or big powers, but kept these under the supervision and welfare programmes of the advanced countries.
(vi) The League had more success in non-political issues like health, humanitarianism and intellectual activities. It underlined the importance of hygienic techniques to lessen epidemics in various nations. It made an investigation into the question of slavery in certain quarters of the world. It also undertook the publication of books and periodicals about national and international problems of all kinds and relayed important information, especially in the field of health from its own radio stations.
(vii) The League immensely succeeded in bringing a coordination among the economic, social and cultural spheres. It conducted a supervision over the safe return of the war prisoners. It looked after several hundred refugees who had left Turkey. It also instituted a medical service to check traffic in women, exploitation of children and sale of opium.
(viii) The most lasting gifts of the League were the International Labour Organisation and the Permanent Court of International Justice that rendered useful services between 1919 and 1939. The former mainly aimed at establishing social justice on the principle that labour is not a commodity but a right of the workers to have free associations and collective bargaining. Keeping close to the ground, many member states took up several liberal legislations for the welfare of labour.
Essay # 6. Failure of the League:
The League had a long catalogue of failures. The major failure of the League was on the issue of disarmament which, though one of the main aims of it, could not be pressed into successful implementation. As a matter of fact, there was little or no progress in this frontier.
There grew intense military and naval preparedness among England, the USA and Japan. This arms race was a direct challenge to the League. It was over this question of disarmament that Germany and France fell out. And this vexed question led to the withdrawal of Germany from the League, which cast the die for the doom of the League.
The League failed to take any positive stand in diffusing the tension between England and Egypt. Nor could it successfully mediate over the dispute between China and the European powers in connection with the right of the foreigners in China. Its most grievous blunder was to remain a silent spectator when Japan attacked China, Italy attacked Abyssinia and Germany attacked Czechoslovakia.
Causes of the Failure of the League of Nations:
Although the League of Nations was the first bold step in easing world tension, it was doomed to failure for the following causes:
In the first place, the League was badly timed. Although there were high-sounding words associated with the aims and objects of the League, it was outwardly a world organisation but inwardly and really an instrument for the domination by the Allies over the defeated countries inasmuch as since its inception there had been a chain of treaties and counter-treaties among the Allies.
The Post-First World War period was not a good time for the world to have such an organisation, because it was a time of imperialism, territorial expansion and grabbing the neighbours’ lands. Europe was fluid and nothing permanent was possible.
In the second place, the League was inherently weak in the absence of some big powers like the USA, Germany and Russia who stayed away from it. No doubt Russia and Germany joined the League later on, but it was too late and they did not stay there long because of their respective national interest. Thus nationalism was the be-all and end-all of every country, though they wore the mask of internationalism.
In the third place, with the exclusion of the USA, Russia and Germany, the League became the plaything of two close neighbours, namely England and France who were known for aggressive imperial designs. Thus the League became the imperial instrument of the Anglo-French nationalism.
They gave lip-service to the League. The British Prime Minister Lloyd George sincerely disliked the League. As for the French Prime Minister George Clemenceau, he did not fight shy to tell Woodrow Wilson- “I like your League of Nations, I like it very much, but I do not believe in it.” This type of hypocrisy impeded the prospect of the League from its very inception.
Fourthly, the League had double standards inasmuch as it favoured the capitalist bloc of powers and adopted a biased and prejudiced attitude towards the communist bloc of powers. It is, therefore, small wonder that the League time and again condoned all the lapses of Italy and Germany and did not adopt a tough line against them. But a single lapse of Russia with regard to Finland goaded the League to take such a drastic step as expelling Russia from the League.
Fifthly, the unanimity in decision which was the procedure in the League enabled a very small state to upset the scheme of the League. When Fascist Italy attacked Spain, the League could not go through with the condemnation of Italy because of the veto of a small state like Portugal. As a matter of fact, behind every small member there was a big power to back from behind. Thus the League was a virtual puppet show of the string-holders from behind.
Lastly, the League was a teeth-less tiger in the sense that it had no arms of its own to deploy against a rebel nation. How could a belligerent nation be brought to its knees if there is no adequate weaponry to use against it? Thus in the absence of an army of its own, the League could not implement or execute its decisions. Thus its decisions and works remained rather on papers only. This was a very serious handicap of the League.