• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How effective was the League of Nations in maintaining peace?

Free essay example:

How effective was the League of Nations in maintaining peace?

After the First World War, Woodrow Wilson supported the establishment of a peace-keeping organization. Under his influence, the League of Nations was founded in 1920. However, it failed to keep peace efficiently.

The League of Nations could only solve the disputes amongst small nations. In 1920, it settled a dispute between Finland and Sweden over the Aaland Islands. It also settled the boundary problems between Poland and Germany. It stopped Greece from attacking Bulgaria. By sending a commission of representatives from various powers to the Albanian region, the league successfully settled the dispute between Yugoslavia and Albania.

In the first decade after the First World War, the League of Nations did work well in keeping peace. However, after the Great Depression, the League of Nations did nothing to stop the aggression from ambitious powers. In the 1930s, it could not stopped the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Italian expansion in Abyssinia (1936) and Albania (1938), the German expansion in Austria, and the Sudetenland (1938), Czechoslovakia and Poland (1939), the Soviet expansion in Poland, Baltic states, and Finland (1939). The League of Nations could do nothing to prevent Hitler’s violation of the Versailles Treaty, like the remilitarization of Rhineland in 1936, and the League also could not cease the intervention of Italy, Germany and the Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War. Hence, the League of Nations did very little to maintain peace in this period.

There are some reasons to explain why the League of Nations failed to maintain peace. The lack of support from the great powers was one of the main reasons. The U.S. adopted isolationism and refused to join the League after its establishment. The Soviet Union did not join until 1934 because it was a communist state which was not welcomed by non-communist states. Germany joined it in 1926 but withdrew in 1933 when Hitler started its expansion. Amongst the four permanent members, Japan and Italy withdrew in the 1930s because they wanted to practice their expansionist policy. In other words, Britain and France were the only two powers leading the League of Nations, but they had different views on how to maintain peace and they were under economic difficulties after the war. Hence, they could not wholeheartedly support the League of Nations. Therefore, the aggressors could start their expansion without restriction and it led to the outbreak of the Second World War.

In addition, there are some weaknesses on the internal system of the League of Nations. For example, a unanimous agreement of every issue had to be made before taking any action. However, the members of the League were not wholehearted in maintaining peace. They strived for their own interests in the League and hence made a unanimous agreement impossible. The League also had no military force and economic resources to implement the decision made. It could only condemn the aggressive actions of ambitious powers or imposed economic sanction. For example, when Italy invaded Abyssinia in 1935, France continued the trading relations with Italy even though it was a leading member in the organization. Finally, the League could do nothing to the withdrawal of members. The League of Nations had no real power to maintain collective peace. Most of the nations used their own way to settle their disputes.

In conclusion, as the first international organization to maintain collective peace, the League of Nations made the first step to achieve the goal of building up an international organ to solve problems among countries. However, the lack of real authority and the lack of support from powerful nations undermined its effectiveness in maintaining peace.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE International relations 1900-1939 section.

(?)
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Related GCSE History Skills and Knowledge Essays

See our best essays

Related GCSE International relations 1900-1939 essays

  1. Summary of John Maynard Keynes' "The Economic Consequences of the Peace".

    as England gave to other Allies during the same period (excluding sums given by the United States before the war) so that almost the whole of England's debts to the United States was incurred to assist her Allies. 2. England gave about 5 billion dollars for foreign securities.

  2. Why did the League of Nations fail to keep peace in the 1930's?

    This was because the new American government became insular and didn't want to get involved with Europe's and the worlds problems. As America was the world's most powerful nation, this was a serious blow to the prestige of the League. Germany was not allowed to join the League in 1919.

  1. ATHENS & THE DELIAN LEAGUE

    fact that these conferences would take place Athens itself, implies that the outcome of trials could be manipulated in favour of the Athenians. A coinage decree was passed between 450 and 446, which enforced the usage of Athenian coinage, weights and measures in the states that she had control over.

  2. The League of Nations

    League of Nations - Good or Bad? Many of us wish that we could create world peace, but most of us know that this is not a one man task. When I think of Woodrow Wilson I am reminded of a common quote, "The road to hell is often paid with good intentions!"

  1. Post War Peace -even though Wilsons conception was considered idealistic, it was the best ...

    Wilson wanted Poland to be strong, and achieve self-determination by having access to the sea so they will be able to trade effectively and easily. However, he was concerned that if Poland was given a corridor through Germany, he would be forcing Germans to live outside Germany under Polish control- which Wilson definitely did not agree with.

  2. Why did international peace collapse in 1939?

    Some argue that it was not the most important factor since it was an attempt from Depression torn countries, Britain and France, to deal with Germany without having to further destabilise their country. In 1939 Hitler made an agreement with Stalin to avoid any aggression between them, and secretly they also agreed to share Poland after they both invaded it.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work