World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. The League of Nations was created as part of the Treaty of Versailles. Its creation brought people hope that a lasting peace could be established. Instead, the 20th century was a century of unresolved warfare.
What Was the League of Nations?
The league’s goal was to resolve conflicts and maintaining peace.
Several individuals put forth the idea of a League of Nations-type organization, but U.S. President Woodrow Wilson is the man usually credited with the idea.
“We are participants, whether we would or not, in the life of the world” Wilson said. “We are partners with the rest. What affects mankind is inevitably our affair as well as the nations of Europe and Asia.”
Forty-four nations joined the league in 1919, but the United States was not among them. The league’s first meeting was held in January 1920.
Accomplishments and Failures
The League of Nations was limited in its accomplishments. It had the means of discussing disputes, but no military force to back up its decisions.
- Determining the future of Germany’s former African colonies.
- Settling some small, European and Asian territorial disputes.
Five big failures:
- Political mandates in the Middle East caused instability in the region.
- It failed to stop war between Paraguay and Bolivia, and it could only condemn other conflicts.
- It couldn’t stop Japan from invading China or Italy from invading Ethiopia.
- It could not enforce the disarmament specified in the Treaty of Versailles.
- It failed to stop World War II.
The league disbanded in 1946 and was replaced with the United Nations.
Updated: 21 October 2020