Question Weaknesses inherent in the structure and functions of the League of Nations were a decisive factor in its inability to maintain peace. Comment. (8 Marks 120 words)
|Understanding of question: Discuss in brief the conditions under which the league was formed. Highlight its structure and functioning. Examine how these led to dissatisfaction snowballing into greater cause for WWII.
|The Peace Conference held after the end of WWI, established the League of Nations. The Primary objective of the League was to promote international cooperation, peace and security.
| Structure and inherent weaknesses
1. At the time of its formation it had 44 members including most European countries (except USSR, Germany) and some colonies of Latin America and Asia. USA was not a member; its membership was later given to Germany.
2. It had an Assembly and a Council, much like UN’s Security Council, consisting of Permanent and Non-Permanent members. It was dominated by Britain and France, while colonies were inducted in the League merely to provide legitimacy to it as a world body.
3. With absence of USA and USSR (inducted only in 1934) it proved to be a weak body and the divisions created by imperialist ambitions continued to exist as evident by walking out of Germany and Japan by 1934. Its structure paved way for Britain and France to use League as their fiefdom and fulfil their imperialist aims.
4. Moreover, the Assembly could only make a decision by a unanimous vote, and on the Council, all the permanent members had a veto. The Secretariat was understaffed. Its slow decision making and an element of ‘toothlessness’ in the sanctions it could impose on aggressive nations weakened it further.
Further, Conference of Ambassadors functioned in parallel resolving disputes and undermined the authority of League of Nations
Leagues Inability to maintain Peace
1. While the pledged function of the League was to promote world peace and joint action against any country showing aggression against any member, it could not be actualised. League was able to resolve minor disputes between small states but failed to prevent aggression, maintain independence and territorial integrity of member-states where a big power was involved. This failure is reflected in policy of appeasement adopted by big powers towards aggression by fascist and militarist powers.
2. Covenant of the League had provided tools to prevent it, but they were never used. Hence, technically it was not the functions of the league per-se but not doing its functions that proved detrimental.
3. The divisions in the League made its members blind to rising ambitions of Germany, Italy and Japan. European powers believed that their aggression would be targeted at communist USSR and hence League remained passive to Japan’s annexation of Manchuria, Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia and Spanish Civil War. In fact, League members facilitated Hitler’s occupation of Czechoslovakia.
|USA also followed the same policy. All this emboldened Fascist powers and their mounting aggression eventually culminated into WWII.
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