The League of Nations was set up in 1919-1920 as part of the piece treaties. The most important aim of the League of Nations was to prevent another World War from happening. The League of Nations wanted as many countries as it could get so that if one country attacked another country other countries would support the country that was being attacked. Initially they had 42 countries but by the 1930s they had 52 countries already joined. However it was hard for the League of Nations to implement their aims because USA was not in the League of Nations so there was no leader to hold the countries together to come to a conclusion and to keep peace within the League of Nations.
The covenant was a set of 26 articles or laws that all members agreed to follow. These encouraged countries to co-operate in trade and in improving the social conditions. They also encouraged nations to disarm. Nevertheless Article 10 said that all members of the league would act together to ensure any member with war was protected by other members, this became as collective security. The main two weaknesses of the League was that the 2 most important countries did not join which were Russia and USA the two most powerful countries in the world. Russia could not join because it was a communist country and the League of Nations did not want communism spreading across Europe. USA also did not join because the congress (the USA Parliament) and also the Americans disagreed with the idea. Also Disarmament was impossible to achieve. For example the French thought that disarmament was a threat to their country, while the failure of other countries to disarm was disastrous, Germany took advantage of it and saw it as a break through to rearm themselves. The powers of the League was set out in three ways in which the League could settle disputes between members, they were: a hearing by an impartial, neutral country, a ruling by the Internationals Court of Justice, An inquiry by the Council. The League of Nations consisted of The Assembly, so every country sent a representative to the assembly which was held once a year in Geneva in Switzerland. The Assembly could recommend action to The Council and could vote on budget, admitting new members, and so on. The Council was a smaller group that met few times a year and for emergencies. It included permanent members which were Britain, France, Italy and Japan. One of the most important things about the council is that every member had the power of veto, which means that if one member said veto about a certain idea or plan then one vote against all could stop action being agreed. The secretariat was just like secretaries and their job was to keep records of meetings and prepared reports. The permanent Court of International Justice This was meant to help to settle disputes peacefully.
In 1929 economic disaster struck, there was a disastrous collapse of the New York Stock Exchange (Wall Street Crash). It had happened because the USA was one of the wealthiest countries in that time, all other countries like Britain, France, Germany most of the Europe were borrowing money from the USA to restore themselves and when the Wall Street Crash happened USA wanted their money back but no one could really give the money back. As all that happened the world’s trade had went down all countries raised their taxes up as much as they could to protect their own industries. So USA did that to Japan. Japanese industrial production and employment fell by 30% between 1929 and 1931 in other words there was a huge number of unemployment and starvation. So Japan had to find another way to supply itself. Manchuria was a province in China that had raw materials such as coal and iron ore that Japan was desperate in. In 1911 last Chinese emperor, aged six, was over thrown by the revolution, so Japan took an advantage of it. While China had collapsed into chaos as rival warlords divided the huge country between them and created mini-kingdoms. Japan had an army that was set in southern Manchuria to protect the area that had been taken from Russia in 1905, Japan also owned the South Manchuria Railway. In September 1931 was an explosion in the South Manchurian Railway outside the city of Mukden. The Japanese claimed that the Chinese did this. Chinese Government claim that their soldiers stayed in their barracks and that they had nothing to do with it. But Japanese turned the situation their way. So Japanese used that as an excuse to take over Manchuria. China of course was part of the League of Nations, so they appealed to them about Japan, but the thing is that China already agreed that Manchuria will be Japanese sphere of interest with long-standing economic rights. So the League couldn’t really do much because Japan were right about China promising them that and they also had a permanent seat in the Council, but Japan had used military force to get into Manchuria and to take over which was against the League of Nations policies. So the League of Nations told Japan to withdraw their troops from Manchuria but instead they conquered more land to gain ‘firmer control’. Then league decided to set up a Commission of Inquiry under Lord Lytton. It was meant to collect information on the situation and make a report. However the extremely slow journey to Japan took way too long, it took a whole a year after the incident to produce a report. But in the end the conclusion was in favour of China and that Japan attacked unlawfully. So Japan’s answer was simple, to ignore and left the League of Nations in 1933.
Another same incident happened with Italy and Abyssinia, that is when Italy dictator Mussolini heard what happened with Manchuria and Japan, and the League of Nations did not do a single thing about it, so Mussolini attacked Abyssinia in October 1935. The Abyssinians could not hope to stand up to a modern army - they were equipped with pre-World War One rifles and little else. The Italians used armoured vehicles and even mustard gas in their attack. He wanted to gain access to the county’s fertile lands and mineral resources. Britain and France who were one of the main leaders of the League of Nations were nervous to avoid a clash with Mussolini, because he was the best ally to them against the threat of Hitler. So they signed a pact with him, Stresa Pact, it was an agreement made in Stresa, a town on the banks of Lake Maggiore in Italy, between French foreign minister Pierre Laval, British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, and Italian leader Benito Mussolini on April 14, 1935. The signatories agreed to resist any future attempt by the Germans to change the Treaty of Versailles.
When the Italians had invaded in October 1935, the Abyssinians had appealed to the League of Nations for help. The League did a couple of things, they stopped all the trading and money lending with Italy: loans, sale of arms, and other goods, but it did not ban the oil and the coal because that would protect the USA and Britain’s trade and also Italian ships were still allowed to use the Suez Canal – Mussolini’s main supply route to Abyssinia.
In 1935 in December British and French foreign ministers decided to sign their own The Hoare-Laval pact because they thought that this would end all the fighting. The pact was about giving the best, fertile land to Italy and giving the rest basically a not such a good lands that Abyssinia would keep. They signed the Pact behind every body’s back; The League’s and the members. It only came out when press wrote about it.
In March 1936 Hitler sent his troops to Rhineland to violate the Treaty of Versailles and the League didn’t do anything about it and they didn’t have an army for sudden attacks and there was something that they have called collective security, sure didn’t work as what had happened with Abyssinia, they have been attacked, and the rule was to protect any country that is threatened with a war did not happen. All this work behind The League of Nations back was of course one of the failures of the League of Nations because then no one really had any hope for the League like weaker as in power countries didn’t really have any trust in the League since what happened with the province in China and Abyssinia. So no one really took the League of Nations seriously because their answers and conclusions took way too long to decide, like what happened with China and that commission. There was no real Leader, no-one too influential and controlling, like USA or Russia. Another reason is that the League did not meet often so they could not really discuss very important issues like Manchuria and Japan or Italy and Abyssinia. Counties left so the League was getting weaker and weaker because Japan which was one of the powerful countries left and no one could do anything about it. So these are the reasons why the League of Nations did not success in its aims and failed.