How successful was the League of Nations in resolving international disputes in the 1920s?

One of the main objectives of League of Nations was to settle international disputes before they go out of hand, so as to prevent outbreak of another war. Initially, League of Nations was successful in solving some minor international disputes and major economic and social issues in 1920s that are as follows:

  • The quarrel between Sweden and Finland over Aaland Islands, the League of Nations gave verdict in favour of Finland.
  • The claims of Germany and Poland over the industrial area of Upper Silesia, the league divided the area between both.
  • When Greece invaded Bulgaria, the Greek troops withdrew with the intervention of League and was made to pay for the damages to Bulgaria.
  • When Turkey claimed the province of Mosul, the British mandated territory of Iraq, the League denied the claim and went in favour of Iraq.
  • The League also settled the South American disputes between Peru and Columbia and between Bolivia and Paraguay.

The League was successful in forming International Labour Organisation which fixed the minimum days and wages of work and other benefits. The Refugee Organisation made prisoners of war return to their country. The Health Organisation was successful in addressing the typhus epidemic in Russia.
The League was unsuccessful on some occasions like:

  • The Disarmament Commission was not successful in persuading the member states to reduce the armaments.
  • Conference of Ambassadors overruled the decision of the League on two occasions. First, When Vilna was seized by Poland from Lithuania, the league supported Lithuania but the Conference of Ambassadors warded Vilna to Poland. Second, when the Corfu incident occurred the League did not respond and the Conference of Ambassadors made Greece to pay for the damages to Italy.
  • The Major powers like USA denied to join the League, Germany and USSR were also not the members of the League in early 1920s. It was mostly France and British affair.

Although, there were some occasions when the League was not able to make an impact. It was quite successful in resolving international disputes in 1920s.

Question for UPSC Mains:
How successful was the League of Nations in resolving international disputes in the 1920s?

Published: March 19, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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