International cooperation in the 1920s

The League’s Successes and Failures in settling border disputes in the 1920s

Walsh, pp. 236-243
Edexcel, p. 220-221; 228.
History Learning site contains an excellent summary of successes and failures of the league in the 1920s
John D. Clare Summarises six successes and six failures of the League during the 1920s

  • Successes
    • the Aaland Islands (1920) – dispute between Sweden and Finland. The League settled the argument in favour of Finland. Sweden agreed.
    • Upper Silesia (1921)
    • Iraq – the Turks demanded Mosul in 1924, but the League supported Iraq (a British mandate); Turkey complied
    • The Treaty of Locarno, 1925
      • Was in fact signed outside of the League between Germany, France, Britain, Poland and other nations. The German Foreign Minister, Gustav Stresemann agreed that Germany would accept the western borders agreed at Versailles and would not challenge its Eastern borders by force.
      • Led directly to Germany joining the League of Nations in 1926
  • Failures
    • Vilna incident (1920), Poland seized Vilna from Lithuania and refused to withdraw
    • French occupation of the Ruhr (1923) was unauthorised
  • Ambiguous
    • the Corfu Incident (1923) – when General Tellini was killed during a border inspection, Mussolini demanded compensation from Greece and when the latter refused he bombarded Corfu. The League ordered Greece to pay the compensation and the latter complied but it looked very much as though the League was doing what Mussolini wanted.
    • The Greek-Bulgarian War 1925 – a very similar incident occurred but this time it was Greece that demanded compensation. The League ordered Greece to withdraw from Bulgarian territory and Greece again complied and this time complained bitterly of double standards. Both occasions were successes in once sense, but they undermined the League’s credibility and made it look as though the League was merely an instrument for the strong to exert their will.

The League’s successes in dealing with international social issues
Walsh,p. 239
Edexcel, pp. 222-223.

  • The Establishment of the World Health Organisation, which worked against leprosy and malaria
  • The establishment of the International Labour Organisation and its campaigns on improving working conditions
  • Attacks on slave owners in Sierra Leone and Burma
  • Economic advice to Austria (1922) and Hungary (1923)
  • The Permanent Court of International Justice establishedThe Health Committee on leprosy, malaria and plague
  • Transport
  • Human Trafficking and Prositution
  • The Opium Advisory Committee blacklisted drugs companies and treaties against drug manufacture and trade
  • The League’s Commission for Refugees ensured 400,000 Prisoners of War were repatriated after WWI and conflict in Turkey
  • The Fritjof Nansen Office

Note: The Nansen International Office for Refugees (French: Office International Nansen pour les Réfugiés) was an organization established in 1930 by the League of Nations and named after Fridtjof Nansen, soon after his death, which was internationally in charge of refugees from war areas between 1930 and 1939. It is noted for developing the Nansen passport which allowed stateless people to travel between countries. It helped re-home refugees from the Saar after the plebiscite of 1935 and Spanish Civil War in 1936. It received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938.


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