The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

bers," the Security Council "failed to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security," and the General Assembly took this responsibility on to its own shoulders, a momentous step was taken in the constitutional development of the United Nations. It was faced for the first time with the question whether the Security Council was really a necessary part of the United Nations system, or whether, in fact, it was not perhaps an encumbrance which might be stripped off with advantage to the organization as a whole.

But before we form a judgment on this question, we must look more closely at the Security Council and its predecessor, the Council of the League of Nations.


CHAPTER 68: A Misshapen Organ

TO reach an answer to the question raised at the end of the last chapter, we must once more cast our minds back to 1919.

The concept of the League of Nations as an institution rather than as a mere treaty originated, as we have seen, both with Woodrow Wilson and with the British Foreign Office. But the formulation of this concept was due to British draftsmanship. The Foreign Office draftsman conceived of the League as being no more, and no less, than a nineteenth-century diplomatic conference equipped with permanent machinery, in the form of a secretariat and fixed arrangements for regular meetings, and established in a neutral center, Geneva. The word "Council," which suggests a corporate personality, is studiously avoided. The Cecil Plan speaks throughout of an "Interstate Conference."

This plan was circulated to the members of the British War Cabinet and approved by it on December 17, 1918, as an outline of the British plan for the proposed League of Nations, to be used in the impending Paris Peace Conference.

But in the interval between its circulation to the members of

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