Achievements of the League of Nations

1. Peace

The League maintained relative peace in Europe from 1920 to 1939. It organized world peace conferences that revived the spirit of internationalism and the concert of Europe in the Inter- war period. In 1925, the league initiated the Locarno conference that led to the signing of Locarno treaty by Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy. The treaty brought temporary reconciliation between Germany and her former enemies i.e. Britain and France. It made Germany to join the league from 1926 up to 1934 when Hitler with drew Germany's membership from the League of Nations. This also brought Germany back to international community and into the disarmament talks, which ushered a new era of peace in Europe.

Stress man (German foreign minister, 1923-1929) stressed that the Locarno treaty introduced "a new era of co-operation among nations, a time of real peace"

2. Legal disputes

The League of Nations established the international court of justice as the highest court of appeal. It was established by article 14 of the league covenant (constitution) in 1920 as a valid and authoritarian body for settling legal disputes. By 1939, the court had settled 70 cases and presided the signing of over 400 treaties. This promoted the spirit of diplomacy and dialogue as opposed to violence in settling conflicts.

Henceforth, the league is credited for promoting peaceful settlement of disputes, reconciliation and harmony in Europe.

3. Dispute between Germany and Belgium over Eupen and Malmedy

The League of Nations successfully resolved conflict over Eupen and Malmedy between Germany and Belgium. The Versailles treaty of 1919 gave Eupen and Malmedy (German territories) to Belgium. In 1920, Germany lodged a series of protest to the council of the League of Nations against the giving of Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium. The council discussed the complaint in September 1920 and wrote to the German government, that its decision regarding the transfer of Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium was final.

This bold stand by the council scared and frustrated Germany's attempt to repossess Eupen and Malmedy that was bound to bring Belgium into a serious conflict/war with Germany.

4. Conflict between Finland and Sweden over Aaland Islands

The league intervened and settled a dispute between Finland and Sweden over control of Aaland Islands, which bordered both nations. Finland and Aaland Islands initially belonged to Sweden but were annexed by Russia in 1809. However, during the 1917 Russian revolution, Finland declared her independence and the fate of Aaland Islands remained unclear. A serious dispute arose between Finland and Sweden for the control of the Islands. The council of the League of Nations took up die matter and established a commission of inquiry, which recommended that the Islands be given to Finland. Eventually, the council gave control over the Islands to Finland in 1921 and in April 1922 an international convention guaranteed the neutrality of the islands and granted them international protection. This ended the conflict between Finland and Sweden over Aaland Islands.

5 Conflict between Peru and Columbia over Leticia

The League of Nations successfully settled conflict between Peru and Columbia over Leticia in South America. In 1922, Peru surrendered control of Leticia to Columbia. However, in 1933 Peru invaded Columbia and captured Leticia. The league set a commission of inquiry into • crisis. The commission did its investigations and recommended that Leticia should be handed over to Columbia. This was implemented and the matter was permanently settled.

6. war between Greece and Bulgaria, 1925-1926

In 1926, the league intervened and stopped the war that had broken out between Greece and Bulgaria. In 1925, a border dispute arose between Greece and Bulgaria. The Greek army marched into Bulgaria and occupied part of her territory. Bulgaria appealed to the league, which ordered Greece to withdraw her troops and pay compensation for the damage caused. Britain, France and Italy were authorized to send military officers on the spot to enforce the resolution of the League of Nations. This forced Greece to withdraw her troops and compensate Bulgaria for the losses incurred. On the other hand, the league also settled Greek refugees from Asia Minor under the terms of the 1923 treaty of Lausanne.

7. Dispute between Turkey and Iraq

In 1926, the League of Nations settled conflict between Turkey and Iraq over Mosul. Mosul was a rich oil deposit on the Iraqi- Turkish border. Both Turkey and Iraq rivaled for the control of the disputed oil deposit of Mosul. The league instituted a commission of inquiry that recommended Mosul to be under Iraqis control. Turkey accepted the commission's report and surrendered the area to Iraq To this extent; one can assert that the League of Nations was successful in peaceful settlement of world disputes without recourse to war.

8. Condition of workers and children

The League of Nations addressed the plight of workers and children. The International labour organisation (I LO) was formed under the leadership of Albert Thomson, a French socialist. It inspired the formation of trade unions and labour organizations worldwide. This advocated for better wages, salaries and working condition. The International Labour Organisation also advocated for the rights and privileges of workers.

In Persia, I L 0 condemned and stopped child labour where exploitation of young children was rampant.

Thus, the League of Nations earns a credit for sphere heading the struggle to liberate workers and children against exploitation by capitalists.

9. Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking was reduced as an achievement for the League of Nations. Before the formation of the League, there was rampant drug abuse and addiction that had become a social evil. The league members formed a drug trafficking committee to monitor and fimstrate the production, sales, transportation and consumption of intoxicating drugs like opium, marijuana, and cocaine. In 1925, a permanent central opium board was established to check on the licensing of imports, exports and transportation of opium. By 1945, these measures had drastically reduced the production, sales and consumption of toxic drugs. This restored peace, order and made the world a better place to live in.

10. Slave trade and slavery

The League of Nations ended the problem of slave trade and slavery. A slavery commission was established in 1924 to deal with the evil of slave trade and slave dealers. It condemned and frustrated the abduction, sales and enslavement of slaves. The league made the abolition of slave trade an international issue. It ended slave trade and slavery that were still rampant in Arab states. This was a justifiable struggle to emancipate mankind from oppression and social evils.

11. Health

The League of Nations achieved better health standards in Europe by 1945. In 1920, the first session/sitting of the council established epidemic commission that successfully dealt with the spread of cholera, dysentery and influenza from Russia to Holland. In 1923, the League of Nations established the World Health Organisation that conducted research on health related problems and possible solutions. It held many conferences to sensitize people against causes, prevention and cure of diseases. These led to an improved health standards and provided better atmosphere for physical and economic developments.

12 Resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees

The League of Nations scored a significant success in the resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees. After 1920, there were so many displaced persons and refugees scattered in different parts of Europe. The league took good care of these victims by providing food, shelter, clothing and medicines before repatriating them to their countries. In 1927, a convention concerned with international relief union was formed to help those suffering from natural disaster and displaced person. The refugees department led by a Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen gave timely assistance to Austrian and Greek refugees.

13 Plight of prisoners of war

The League advocated for fair treatment of prisoners of war and repatriation to their mother countries.

From 1920- 1925, the league successfully repatriated all World War I prisoners of war with majority going to Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey. For instance, about 427,000 prisoners of war that were in Russia were repatriated/ returned to their respective countries. The league assisted them with food, medicines, blankets etc to help them to settle down in their countries. It should be noted that the current United Nations High Commission for Refugees was inspired by the concerns of the League of Nations over the plight of refugees and displaced persons in war situations.

14 Socio- economic achievements

The League of Nations made remarkable achievements in the social and economic fields. In 1927, the economic commission of the league organized a world economic conference that resolved to promote free international trade without restriction. The financial committee was established to provide loans for the reconstruction of Europe. It gave loans to poor countries that had been devastated by the First World War.

The countries that benefited included; Greece, Bulgaria, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Iraq and

Czechoslovakia. The financial commission also helped to reduce the problem of counterfeiting, forgery, double taxation and fluctuating value of Gold. All these measures reduced poverty that had made poor nations vulnerable to aggression and promoted peace in Europe.

15 Mandate System

The League effectively implemented the mandate system. It established the mandate commission to oversee the administration of states under the mandate system. The states in question were Namibia, Togo, Cameroon and Tanganyika. These were former colonies of Germany that were given (Mandated) to big powers to govern on behalf of the League of Nations. The states had created problems at Versailles and had become a source of conflict between the great powers. In all, the mandate commission on behalf of the League proved effective in minimizing the exploitation of colonies by those mandated to govern them.

16 Administrations of Danzig and Saar Coalfield

The League also played a role in the administration of German ports of Danzig (1920- 39) and the Saar coal region (1920- 35) that were "grabbed" from Germany at the Versailles settlement. These states were so strategically significant that they could not be given to any single country. By taking direct administration of these states, the league avoided conflicts and war over such territories. In 1935, the league conducted a referendum in the Saar region that favoured the return of the region to Germany. In all, the mandate commission on behalf of the league proved effective in preventing the exploitation of colonies by those mandated to govern them.

17 Aggression

In 1927, The League of Nations declared all acts of aggression illegal. This resulted in to the signing of the Kellogg pact of 1928. The pact was named after the United States of America secretary of states who initiated the idea together with Briand, the French minister of foreign affairs. It was signed by 65 countries including Russia, who had not yet become members the League of Nations. The signatories of the pact renounced (rejected) war as an instrument of policy except on self-defense. The significance of the pact lies in the fact that it was signed by USA and Russia who by then were not yet members of the League. It also filled up the gap in the covenant since the covenant did not provide for safeguards against aggression.

However, the meaning of self-defense was not clearly defined in the pact. Never the less, in spite of this loophole, the Kellogg pact temporarily restrained aggression and consolidated peace for some time.