Reforming Regulation and
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS, the precursor to the United Nations, was an intergovernmental organization founded in 1919 with the aim of achieving international peace and security. Established by the Treaty of Versailles after the horrors of World War I, the League was composed of a secretariat with a general secretary, an assembly with representation from all member states, and a council or executive body. It had fifty-seven member countries at its largest, although some key powers of the time failed to support or eventually withdrew from the League. The United States never joined, Japan and Italy withdrew in the 1930s, and Germany was initially precluded from membership and then joined only from 1926 to 1933.
The League worked to resolve international disputes through arbitration and conciliation, and if necessary, sanctions, but it relied on the cooperation of member states, and it had no military power or agency to enforce its resolutions. Although the League had some early successes, the aggressions of Axis powers and the eventual outbreak of World War II sealed the League's fate as a failed peacekeeping organization. It remained in existence but nonfunctional until 1945, when the United Nations formally took over its duties.
The League is remembered for its peacekeeping failures, but it did have much more success in fostering international cooperation in social, economic, and humanitarian affairs. Under the League's auspices, conferences and committees met, developed, and implemented conventions on a variety of issues, such as health, labor, slavery, finance, transportation and communication, intellectual cooperation, and the traffic in women. When the League formed, state officials took over anti-trafficking work and the administration of earlier