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Q6. Explore the Causes of failure of League of Nations

The League of Nations was the first major attempt as an international organization of state to maintain peace and promote international co-operation. But it failed. Some of the causes of its failure are briefly mentioned as follows:-

  1. The political background of Europe at the time of the birth of the League was not very conducive to a peace organization. World War I essentially it was an imperialist war for the division and re-division of colonies. The League of Nations was a part of the Versailles peace treaty. But bigger nations actually had no trust in it.
  2. League did not represent the world balance of forces and was not an effective instrument for world peace. The U.S.A. never became its member and Russia stepped in only in 1934.

League was actually dominated by the Anglo-French powers and became an instrument of their policy in Europe. Both these nations interested in maintenance of their imperialist domination and destruction of Soviet Union.

  1. The League of Nations was founded on the principle of equality of all the members except those who were party to a dispute. Every single member including the smallest had the right to veto. A small power could very irresponsibly hamstring the League in its action against an aggressor. Aid to Republican Spain and condemnation of Fascist attack against Spain was prevented by a hostile vote of Portugal. The big powers used small powers to veto and thus escaped responsibility for most of the decisions.
  2. The absence of Russia was used against the new socialist state. The League condoned fascist aggressions and even expelled Soviet Union on the question of Finland.
  3. There was a confusion of responsibility as spheres of activity of the Council and the Assembly were not clearly defined.
  4. The responsibility for maintenance of peace was not securely placed anywhere. The Council of the League which alone could shoulder it was burdened with other responsibilities regarding minority treaties, mandatory territories, etc.


Despite these flaws, the League could have been made an instrument of peace if the powers dominating had wished it so. The articles of the covenant of the League provided for economic and military sanctions against the aggressors. The League failed because the leading powers never wanted a durable peace.

The League was a non-sovereign, non-coercive organisation, while its members who were to obey it and were sovereign and independent States. It means the League had no army, no police and no coercive power, while its members were armed with authority and sovereignty. When the Great Powers considered that its decisions were against their own national or imperialist interests, they refused to accept its resolutions and flouted it its authority. Japan, Italy and Germany left the League and refused to recognise it at all. England and France turned the League into an instrument of their own national and imperialist policies.

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