League of Nations:
As a Result of the
Paris Peace Conference
The League of Nations is founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference.
The Organization of the League
▣ Membership of League of Nations
- As a general association of nations, the League depended on the commitment of its members. Questions of membership thus were fundamental, and were addressed in the League Covenant’s first substantive provision, Art. 1 (International Organizations or Institutions, Membership). The provision drew a distinction between original members of the League, and other entities admitted subsequently. Art. 1 (1) League Covenant confined original membership to the victorious signatories of the Peace Treaties of Versailles, St. Germain, Trianon, and Neuilly and 13 named neutral States, all listed in an Annex to the Covenant (Neutrality, Concept and General Rules). While the number of victorious signatory States was 27, one of them, the ‘British Empire’, was considered to comprise not only the United Kingdom (‘UK’), but also five additional units—Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India—all of which became League members in their own right. Of these potential 45 League members, three failed to ratify the Peace Treaty of Versailles and to take up membership: the US, the Hedjaz (an independent kingdom later to become part of Saudi Arabia), and Ecuador.
- As regards new members, Art. 1 (2) League Covenant declared membership to be open to ‘any fully self-governing State, Dominion or Colony’ (State; Protectorates and Protected States). New members had to give effective guarantees of their sincere intention to observe their international obligations as well as specific regulations with respect to its forces and armaments (Guarantee). Their admission had to be approved by two-thirds of the League Assembly. Between 1920 and 1937, 21 new members were admitted under this provision. They included the former enemy States Austria and Bulgaria, admitted in 1920, Hungary, admitted in 1922, Germany, admitted in 1926, and Turkey, which was admitted in 1932. Further, in 1934, the Soviet Union, which had not participated in the Peace Conference, and, in 1932, at least one former mandate territory, Iraq, became members (Mandates). One original Member State, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was re-admitted in 1944 after having left the League in 1941 (see also Yugoslavia, Dissolution of).
- In two provisions, the League Covenant addressed the termination of membership. In Art. 1 (3) League Covenant, express provision was made for the withdrawal of membership. Withdrawal depended upon two years’ notice by the member and the fulfillment of all its existing obligations including those under the League Covenant. Art. 16 (4) League Covenant allowed for the expulsion of members that were in breach of their obligations under the League Covenant. While the provision—unlike many other expulsion clauses—did not qualify the types of breaches that could give rise to expulsion, it required a unanimous vote of the League Council, in which the member concerned was not however entitled to participate (International Organizations or Institutions, Voting Rules and Procedures). Between 1920 and 1942, no fewer than 20 members left the League. Of these, two States ceased to be members when they lost their independence—Austria and Albania. The Soviet Union was expelled in December 1939 following its attack on Finland. Furthermore, 17 members withdrew pursuant to Art. 1 (3) League Covenant. The most prominent instances were the cases of Japan, in 1933, after the League had criticized the invasion of Manchuria; Germany, in 1933, using the failure of the World Disarmament Conference as a pretext (Disarmament); and Italy, in 1937, following the League’s condemnation of its invasion of Abyssinia, In terms of sheer numbers, the successive withdrawal of 11 out of the original 20 Latin American members was more relevant; it signaled a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the League’s work in general and its involvement in Latin American conflicts in particular (International Law, Regional Developments: Latin America). Membership in the League was thus subject to much fluctuation. While few recognized States completely abstained from it, the circle of members was never static, which complicated the League’s work considerably.
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Failure in Practice of League of Nations
the system thus established proved unable
to maintain peace and security effectively.
This is not to say that the League
was completely powerless......