The League of Nations – successes of the Court of Justice and Mandates Commission

The League of Nations had two separate bodies – International Labour Organisation and the Permanent International Court of Justice (PCIJ). Apart from this there were many commissions of which the Mandates Commission was very important as it had to oversee the territories transferred after World War I.

Court of Justice

After the World War I there was a dire need for an international court that would solve the disputes rising among nations. This was called the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) and it was established under Article XIV of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The League of Nations and most of its covenants and articles were drawn up by June 28th, 1919. Initially there was no concept of compulsory settlement to International issues. In 1920 the Council appointed ten proficient jurists to formulate a plan for settlement of international disputes. The plan was forwarded to the League of Nations on December 16th, 1920. It was ratified in September 1921 by most of its member states.    The Permanent Court of International Justice had its first sitting in January 1922 and heard the first case in May 1922.

Revisions of Permanent International Court of Justice

PCIJ went through many revisions.

  • The rules of the Court was first revised was in 1926.
  • The composition and structure went through a change in 1931
  • Rules were again changed in 1936.

PCIJ solved many international disputes and the last session was held in 1940. PCIJ was dissolved in 1946 but it was also the predecessor for the International Court of Justice of the UNO.

Mandates Commission

After World War I the Allied Powers divided all the nations of the defeated Central Powers and many were transferred to form new nations. It was felt that the newly formed nations may not have the laws and people, to rule on their own. To overview the governance of these nations the Mandate Commission was formed. The need for Mandate Commission appeared in Article 22 of the agreement created by the League of Nations.

The power of sovereignty was dissolved and new states had to transfer the mandatory powers. Based on the population and the extent of development the Mandate areas were divided into 3.

  • Class A Mandates – The Ottoman Empire or the Turkish Provinces.
  • Class B Mandates – The parts of Central and West Africa.
  • Class B Mandates – The parts of South West Africa and South Pacific Islands

Class A mandates were well developed nations and they were to be given assistance and advice only till they could stand alone. The Class A mandates got their full independence by 1949. Class B mandates were less developed and the Allied Powers directly controlled these area but they could not build any naval or military base there. Class C mandates were former German held territories and so the Allied Powers wanted complete control over these areas. Theoretically the Mandate Commission was supposed to have a control over their areas but it could not wield complete power. It was replaced by the UN Trusteeship of the UN in 1946.