The League of Nations was founded on 10th January 1920, with the primary purpose of securing peace. It is arguably the first formal organization to emphasize on world peace.
The organization came to the foray in the midst of turbulent diplomatic tensions between states, as the spirit of colonization had just commenced in third world countries. The goals of the league was three fold a) Disarmament, b) Settlement of dispute through peaceful means and collective security and c) Negotiation and arbitration, which comes closely on the heels of the Paris Peace Conference, that ended World War 1.
The inspiration of the league apart from the Paris Peace Conference was one of the works of philosopher Immanuel Kant, perpetual peace. This encapsulated promotion of peace society and states declaring itself a free state and welcoming foreign visitors. Now, a revisit on the causes of World War 1, would re-establish the actual role of League of Nations, Arms race, militaristic nationalism, secret diplomacy and reluctance of international community to respect treaties and accords. The term ‘League of Nations’ coined by the British political scientist Goldsworthy Lowes, the resultant object didn’t see the day of light. The structure and composition of the league comprises of a) General Assembly, b) Executive Council and c) Permanent Secretariat.
Akin to the contemporary United Nations structure, one of the Ironies of the league being despite the stellar contribution of Woodrow Wilson, via through the 14-point Wilsonian poly, U.S did not join the league; this could be attributed to one of its stark failure, i.e. to have command over the big brothers. The reason advanced by United States being Article 10 of the Covenant of the league, which states: “The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.”
In addition the league had the permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the court like the present world court, under the U.N Charter was the principle judicial organ, Article 14 of the covenant of the league states: The Court shall be competent to hear and determine any dispute of an international character which the parties thereto submit to it. “The Court may give an advisory opinion upon any dispute or question referred to it by the Council or by the Assembly.”
One of the key feature of the league was the establishment of mandate territory, the international supervision was adopted by the council of ten, the mandate territory under Article 22 of the covenant of the league establishes three mandate territory A (Ottoman Empire), B (German Colonies) and C ( South-west Africans) . One provision which is considered the heart of the league is Article 8 of the covenant of the league i.e. on the maintenance of peace.
The general weakness of the league belies the fact that. League was based on league of victors; b) there was a palpable absence of global representation vis-à-vis collective security. The league, in a sense had a legacy in creating a future road-map for a more brawny organization in the United Nations. Another, moot point of bone of contention was Article 1 of the covenant, which outlawed doctrines like ‘Munroe Doctrine’ in terms of international engagements.
The issue of implementation of the decision of the league was based on the principle of ‘good faith’ embedded in the preamble of the league and Article 8 of the covenant of the league, moreover the range of dispute covered under the covenant of the league too is wide in scope, i.e. under Article 14, and it covers any dispute. Apart from the role of maintain peace and security, the league had at its disposal the establishment of other task of maintain social and economic equilibrium, under Article 23 of the covenant of the league.