The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946

By F. S. Northedge | Go to book overview

11 The final years

I

When the Co-ordination Committee and subsequently, on 4 July 1936, an extraordinary meeting of the League Assembly eventually decided that sanctions against Italy for its invasion of Abyssinia must be terminated, a sense of gloom enveloped the Genevan scene. Once the sanctions system, in such favourable circumstances, had failed, few believed that it could ever be mounted again. One consequence must be a decline in, if not total disappearance of, the confidence placed by states, especially the smaller countries, in the League's capacity to protect them against aggression. Another must be that hopes for future security must shift away from the all-embracing global formula towards the regional alliance, in which participating states would look for help from trusted friends and cut loose from dangerous confrontations between the greatest Powers. The future was bound to be a time of caution, of limited commitments and return to the well-tried methods of international politics.

The point was made, though somewhat obliquely, by Rivas Vicuña, speaking for Chile at the Ninety-second session of the League Council on 26 June 1936, when the Italian chair stood significantly empty. The time had come to consider reform of the Covenant, Vicuña said. His country wished 'to restrict the field of conflict to countries directly concerned' and to put an end 'to the system of world wars -- military or economic -- which the Covenant proposed as a sanction in the event of violation of its provisions'. Chile, he went on, 'stood outside the development of European policy -- she had no desire to be a party to the consequences of actions which were independent of any steps she might take and were liable to involve her against her will in sanguinary conflicts or even struggles of a world-wide character'. M. Vicuña, without

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The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vi
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The World before the League 1
  • 2 - Framing the Covenant 25
  • 3 - The Covenant Reviewed 46
  • 4 - Beginnings and Setbacks 70
  • 5 - The System Takes Shape 98
  • 6 - The Lure of Disarmament 113
  • 7 - Manchuria: the Covenant Defied 137
  • 8 - The Betterment of Life 165
  • 9 - The Mandates System 192
  • 10 - The Abyssinian Disaster 221
  • 11 - The Final Years 255
  • 12 - Was Failure Inevitable? 278
  • Abbreviations 293
  • Notes 294
  • Bibliography 311
  • Appendix A 317
  • Appendix B 328
  • Appendix C 329
  • Index 330
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