The League of Nations
The League of Nations (LON) was an inter-governmental organization founded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919â€“1920, and the precursor to the United Nations. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members. The League's primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing war through collective security, disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Other goals in this and related treaties included labor conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, trafficking in persons and drugs, arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe.
The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift in thought from the preceding hundred years. The League lacked its own armed force and so depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, keep to economic sanctions which the League ordered, or provide an army, when needed, for the League to use. However, they were often reluctant to do so.
Sanctions could also hurt the League members, so they were reluctant to comply with them. When, during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, the League accused Benito Mussolini's soldiers of targeting Red Cross medical tents, Mussolini responded that Ethiopians were not fully human, therefore the human rights laws did not apply. Benito Mussolini stated that "The League is very well when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out."
After a number of notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. In May 1933, the League was powerless to convince Adolf Hitler that Franz Bernheim, a Jew, was protected under the minority clauses established by the League in 1919 (that all minorities were fully human and held equal rights among all men).
Hitler claimed these clauses violated Germany's sovereignty. Germany withdrew from the League, soon to be followed by many other aggressive powers. The onset of World War II showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to avoid any future world war. The United Nations replaced it after the end of the war and inherited a number of agencies and organizations founded by the League.