1. Lack of a joint standing army.
The League of Nations failed because it lacked a standing army of its own to maintain peace. It relied on mobilizing members to send troops to fight in case of emergency / crisis (collective security), which proved too slow and ineffective against aggression. Moreover, the idea of collective security was ignored in preference to national security since nations concentrated on using their army for their own security. Lack of a joint standing army of its own made the league to be theoretical rather than practical in handling world disputes. This encouraged the axis powers to embark on a series of aggression because they were aware that the league had no standby force that could be used against them. The success of Nazis and fascist aggressions that destabilized Europe was partly because the League of Nations had no army of its own to force them out of the territories they invaded.
2 Ineffectiveness of economic sanctions
The League of Nations failed because of ineffective penalties against aggression. It relied most on imposing economic sanction against offenders, which proved too incompetent in restraining aggression.
Sanctions were poorly monitored and not fully implemented partly because the league had no army to enforce them. The sanction imposed on Italy due to Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 excluded export of oil, coal and steel to Italy. This instead facilitated Mussolini's conquest of the whole of Ethiopia by May 1936. The league lifted/ abandoned sanction against Italy after realizing that it had failed to force Mussolini out of Ethiopia.
3 Association with the Versailles settlement of1919
The League of Nations failed because it was an off ring of the Versailles treaty of 1919 (originated from Versailles treaty), u "'25 formed to preserve the terms of the Versailles settlement most of which were too unrealistic to guarantee a lasting peace in Europe. Germany, Italy and Japan who were cheated at Versailles hated the League of Nations as a promoter of the terms of the settlement and were determined to undermine it right from the beginning. They formed the axis alliance and embarked on aggression partly to challenge the credibility of the League of Nations to maintain peace. Other defeated and neutral powers regarded the league as an organization to consolidate the gains of the signatories of the Versailles treaty and disassociated themselves from it. All these made the league very unpopular right from the beginning and its collapse/ failure by 1939 became inevitable.
4 Absence of United State of America
The absence of United State of America right from the start left the league weakened and made its failure a foregone conclusion. In March 1920; the U.S.A senate (parliament) rejected the Versailles treaty and the League that they were meant for European and not American affairs. Besides, the League of Nations neglected some aspects of President Woodraw Wilson's 14 points. These made U.S.A to isolate herself (isolationist policy) from the League of Nations. However, this was unfortunate for the success of the league because the original idea for the formation of the league came from U.S.A's president, Woodraw
Wilson. It left the league almost as an "orphan" in the hands of Britain and France who did not take proper care of it and hence it failed. Above all, U.S.A was the world's economic and military giant / power that could have helped the League financially and militarily to fight aggression. In the absence of United State of America, the fate of the league relied greatly on Britain and France who were so exhausted and incapacitated / weakened by World War I that they did not have sufficient financial and military power to commit to the League.
5 Failure to enlist Germany and Russia right from the start
Besides United State of America, the League of Nations failed to enlist the membership of important powers like Germany and Russia in the initial stage of its existence. Germany was out of the League of Nations from the beginning because she viewed the League as an organization the victors against the vanquished/ defeated. Members of the League Were also relaxed on Germany's membership because suspicion and memories of Germany's aggression were still fresh in their minds. Germany only joined the
League of Nations in 1926 after the Locarno treaty of 1925 had reconciled her with her former enemies e.g. France, Britain and Belgium. Russia was also locked out of the League until 1934 because of adopting communism through the revolution of1917. This kept many Eastern powers outside the League because
Russia had strong influence .over them especially after the revolution of1917. The League therefore failed to lay a sound and vibrant foundation for its success right from the start. Although Germany and Russia were later admitted in the League of Nations, they became halfhearted members their membership by 1939.
6 Desertions by Japan, Germany and Italy
Desertion of the League of Nations by Japan, Germany and Italy left it weakened and incapable of achieving its aims and objectives in the inter-war period. The league had no conditions on membership and penalties against withdrawal of membership. It was a laizez fair (loose) organization with free entry and exit of membership. This explains why Japan easily withdrew in 1933 after the league condemn her over occupation of Manchuria, Germany withdrew in 1934 after the failure of the disarmament conference of 1932 and Italy withdrew in 1936 after her occupation of Ethiopia. After deserting the League of Nations, these powers (Japan, Germany and Italy) challenged the league through a network of aggressions that contributed to its collapse.
7 Insufficient funding
The League of Nations failed because of weak economic and financial base. It did not have a clearly defined financial system of membership contribution and depended on the good will of its members.
Prominent members like Britain and France were economically weakened by the First World War and the great depression of1929-1935. These made them to relax on giving financial assistance to the League. The
League therefore lacked sufficient resources/ funds to finance its objectives, hence its failures.
8 Appeasement policy
Appeasement policy pursued by Britain and France in the inter- war period undermined the League of Nations and contributed to its failure. The policy antagonized the issue of collective security and made the league inactive against the Nazis and fascist aggressions since the powers behind it i.e. Britain and France were the most influential members of the league. This tolerated and promoted Nazis and fascist aggressions that led to the outbreak of the second war, which terminated the existence of the League of Nations.
9 Lack of massive support
Lack of massive support/ universal support also contributed to the failure of the League of Nations. The League concentrated on Europe and ignored other parts of the world. Even in Europe, it was monopolized by gigantic (powerful) states like Britain and France against weaker and smaller states such as China, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Consequently, these smaller and weaker states lost confidence in the league since it failed to safeguard them against the Nazis and fascist aggressions of the 1930's. This denied the League of Nations massive support leaving it unpopular and incapable of performing its duties.
10 Ideological difference/ Disunity
Ideological difference within members of the League of Nations accounts for its failure by 1939. The emergence of communism through the 1917 revolution in Russia divided Europe into the East dominated by communism supported by Russia and West dominated by capitalism that was supported by France and Britain. This is part of the reason why Russia withdrew from the League of Nations, which blocked communist states of China, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia etc. from the league. Besides, democratic powers such as France and Britain were antagonistic to dictatorial states of Germany, Italy and Japan (axis powers). It explains why there was unnecessary disagreement in the council that made it impossible to adopt a common policy against aggression. Generally, ideological difference promoted suspicion, hatred, jealousy and rivalry that doomed (failed) the League of Nations.
11 Defective system of voting and the principle of equality
Defective system of voting was also responsible for the failure of the failure of the League of Nations. The League was based on the principle of equality in voting (one man, one vote) and equality of all member states. This was defective and not practical because countries such as Liberia, Iraq and Greece could not be as important as Britain, France and Russia. The idea of one-man one vote undermined pride of super powers and partly made them i.e. United States of America, Russia, Germany, Italy and Japan to have low regards for the League of Nations. It also left the League lukewarm because a country or group of countries would refuse to approve resolutions/ decisions that were against their interest. It should be stressed that attempts to change the constitution failed because it needed a unanimous / collective decisions that was due to defective voting system.
12 Economic depression 1929 -1935
The effects of economic depression undermined the League of Nations and caused its downfall. The depression created problems like deflation, unemployment, poverty and famine that contributed to the rise of Hitler who embarked on aggression to lift Germany out of it, interalia. Members of the League of Nations were too pre- occupied with the problems created by the depression that they neglected the league.
For instance, Britain went into hiding to re-organize her economy, Russia concentrated on spreading the gospel of communism in Eastern Europe and Germany used the opportunity to rearm herself and embark on aggression. The depression also made members financially weak and incapable of funding the activities of the League. Thus, the effects of economic depression weakened the League politically and economically and made it to fail in the inter war period
13 Re-armament and arms race
The failure of the League of Nations to control re-armament in the inter-war period also contributed to its failure to live to its expectations. The disarmament commission concentrated on disarming Germany only and ignored great powers such as Britain, France and Russia. This forced Germany to withdraw from the disarmament conference of 1932 plus the league (in 1934) and embarked on a re-armament program that led to re-emergence of arms race. It led to the production of sophisticated weapons including weapons of mass destruction that created suspicion, hatred, rivalry and a series of aggression, which contributed to the failure of the League of Nations.
14 Rise of nationalism
The rise of nationalism in Europe also contributed to the failure of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was a combination of different powers with different national interest to defend. Members were too much concerned with their selfish national interest at the expense of the League, which undermined diplomatic co-operation and success of the League. For instance, Britain wanted to use the league to dominate Europe and maintain the balance of power, France was bent on using the league to encircle Germany, which amongst other reasons forced Germany out of the league in 1934. It should be emphasized that Germany, Italy and Japan hated the League of Nations because it was formed to consolidate the 1919 Versailles settlement that had undermined their national pride. The scattering of Germans in the new states of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Poland made Hitler to embark on a struggle for re-unification that led to a series aggression, World War II and the collapse of the League of Nations.
15 Rise of dictatorship and aggression
The rise of dictators likes Mussolini in Italy, Emperor Hirohito in Japan, Hitler in Germany and General Franco in Spain undermined the success of the League of Nations. Mussolini rose with a hangover to revenge the 1896 defeat at the battle of Adowa, which forced him to invade Ethiopia in 1935. Hitler came with a burning desire to revenge on the Versailles peacemakers, re-unify Germany and create a great German empire. Hirohito sprung with a determination to annex territories and when the League of Nations rebuked him for invading Manchuria, he withdrew Japan from the League. It must be noted that Mussolini,
Hirohito and Hitler rose with ill-conceived negative attitude against the Versailles settlement and the League of Nations and that is why they embarked on a network of aggression with intension of undermining the League of Nations. The failure of the League of Nations to contain such aggressions that led to World War II, undermined people's confidence in the league and that is why it was replaced by the U.N.0 in the 1945.
16 The outbreak of World War II
The outbreak of the Second World War was the most immediate event that hastened the collapse of the League of Nations. The league failed to promote social, political and economic co-operation and that is why there were alliances and counter alliances, re-armament, hostility and aggressions that led to the outbreak of world war II. Britain, France and Russia supported Poland while Italy and Japan supported Germany. This was a perfect proof that the league had failed to maintain a lasting peace in Europe. It is this realization that prompted the Sanfrancisco delegates to replace it with the U.N.O.