World War I saw mass destruction, loss of life and economic crunches which affected the victors of the war and more so the losers of the war. The heads of state and right thinking leaders decided that war was not the right solution and decided to form an intergovernmental organisation to prevent wars. This organisation was called League of Nations and was founded after the Paris Peace Conference on January 10th 1920. The forerunner of League of Nations was the Inter-Parliamentary Union mooted by peace activists Frederic Passy and William Randal Cremer in 1889. The aim of this organisation was to solve international disputes peacefully. The League of Nations looked beyond war and extended its umbrella to various other issues as well.
A Brief History – How it was formed
Inter-Parliamentary Union had set a model for the League of Nations. US President Woodrow Wilson had stated 14 points for an international peace organisation. Based on this, the Treaty of Versailles included a clause for the creation of a multi-national body. At the Paris Peace Conference under the chairmanship of Woodrow Wilson the agreement for League of Nations was drafted. Later this agreement was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles. The League’s Council met on January 16th, 1920 in Paris. After a few months the headquarters was shifted to Geneva and the first General Assembly was held on November 15th, 1920. In this meeting 41 countries participated.
Structure of the League of Nations
There were three main organs in the League of Nations and few other autonomous bodies. The main organs were the General Assembly, Council and the Secretariat.
- All member states had a representation in the General Assembly.
- Each member nation had three representatives in the General Assembly and one vote.
- The General Assembly met once a year with an understanding to meet at other emergency times.
- The key functions of the General Assembly were to control the budget of the assembly, have a control over the member nations and appoint the Council of the League of Nations.
- The council was the executive body of the League of Nations which meant they were the decision making body.
- Britain, France, Japan and Italy were the permanent members of the Council.
- The non permanent members were elected to the Council once in 3 years.
- The number of non permanent members increased from 4 to 6 to 9 and finally the number was 11.
- The Council met on an average of 5 times a year.
- The Secretariat looked into the day-to-day affairs of the League of Nations.
- It prepared the agenda of the meetings and prepared a report after the meetings.
- The Secretariat had a health and social department. The social department was instrumental in collecting aids for the needy.
The League of Nations had a few autonomous bodies which looked into the wellness of the people. There was a Permanent Court of International Justice which held its inaugural meeting in 1922. The International Labour Organisation was to ensure fair and humane conditions for labourers. Apart from these there were the Opium Advisory Committee and the Permanent Mandates Commission. There were many border disputes in many countries especially after the Treaties were signed. These disputes were amicably solved by the League of Nations after taking the opinion of all involved. However this organisation for world peace failed when the members failed to comply with the norms.
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