The basic aims and objectives of the League of Nations were found in articles 9 to 17 and 23 -24 of the league covenant (constitution). Generally, the League was formed due to political, social and economic considerations. The following are the main aims and objectives of the League of nations:-
(a) The need to maintain peace; The League of Nations was an instrument to preserve and promote world peace and stability. The First World War was the worst experience (by then) that had led to massive loss of lives, displacement of people and destruction of property. It was caused partly due to the weakness of international organisation to settle dilutes and preserve world peace. The league was formed to address this weakness. It was to be a forum to arbitrate and settle disputes peacefully before such disputes escalates to war. Thus, one can argue that the League of Nations was formed to maintain international relations and pre-empt the outbreak of another major war in Europe.
(b) To protect the territorial integrity and independence of states. The desire to promote the respect for territorial integrity and independence of member states against aggression also led to the formation of League of Nations. Europe had suffered the dangers of French aggression of 1792- 1815 and German aggression prior to 1914 that had led to wars and instability. It should be emphasized that the violation of territorial integrity of smaller states like Serbia by Austria is what sparked off the outbreak of the First World War. The league was therefore formed to avoid this by protecting such smaller and weaker states against aggression by bigger and stronger states. This was to be achieved through sanctions and military intervention amongst others. It should be noted that article 16 provided for collective security and action against any aggressive power. This was extended to nonmembers in article 17. It was also spelt out that an aggressive power was to be expelled from the league by the council.
(c) Promotion of Diplomacy; The league was formed to promote diplomacy in settling disputes. This was because the First World War was partly caused by the weakness of international organisation and the collapse of international diplomacy. The League was therefore formed to address this weakness and promote dialogue other than militarism in settling disputes. All legal issues between states were to be referred to the international Court of Justice that was the highest court of appeal. This was to promote and defend the concept of international justice.
(d) Reduction of arms race; The League was formed to limit the manufacture of dangerous weapons and promote disarmament. Both the defeated and victor powers were to be disarmed to the lowest level consistent with domestic security. Although Germany and her allies were disarmed, the league was to monitor them closely and frustrate the resurrection of arms race. This was precisely because arms race had contributed to the outbreak of the First World War. It explains why a disarmament commission was established. Its role was to conduct research and advice the council on military, naval and air issues.
(e) Suppression of sea Pirates;Sea pirates were problems whose solution was to be found by the League of Nations. They were a threat to international trade in big waters e.g. Mediterranean sea, black sea, R. Danube and Pacific: Ocean. The pirates were looting and high jacking ships making trade on sea a risky venture. The league was to find a way of forming an army that would hunt for pirates on the sea and paralyze their illegal activities. This was to promote trade and peace on the sea.
(f) To Control Drug Trafficking; The growing concern over drug trafficking and consumption of dangerous drags was also responsible for the formation of the League of Nations. Drugs such as opium, marijuana and mairungi were affecting people’s mind, reasoning, causing people to go crazy and promoting violence. The league was formed to monitor and frustrate the production, sales, transportation and consumption of such intoxicating drugs.
(g) Social Political and Economic Co-operation; The league was also formed to promote social, political and economic co-operation on a global scale. The First World War had left problems such as inflation, unemployment, famine, social disintegration, mistrust by smaller states against bigger states because bigger states had dominated smaller states at the Versailles Settlement. Besides, there was a problem of homeless, displaced and traumatized refugees. There was also the problem of reconstruction of Europe after the war and that is why a financial commission for loans was formed. The league was therefore formed to handle the post world war Social, political and economic challenges. This is why articles 23 and 24 advocated for worldwide co-operation in handling global problems.
(h) To Improve the Condition of workers; The desire to improve on the working condition of workers and to stop exploitation of workers by employers was another issue that led to the formation of the League of Nations. Workers were being exploited through low payments, over timework for no payments in poor sanitary and risky environment.
Consequently, most workers were very poor, malnourished and demoralized. By 1920, the working conditions in industrialized nations were so poor that intervention by international organisation (League of Nations) was urgently needed. The International Labour Organisation was formed to protect workers rights and privileges against exploitation by employers.
(i) Administration of Mandate States; The need for proper administration of mandate states was also responsible for the formation of League of the nations. The Versailles settlement had taken over the colonies of Germany and her allies that were in different parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These colonies were given to the victor’s powers. The administration of such states was to be taken over by the League of Nations. This is why the league established the mandate commission that was to oversee how fairly they were being governed.
(j) To preserve the achievements of the Paris peace settlement: The League of Nations was an offspring of the Versailles settlement and thus aimed at maintaining the achievement of the Versailles settlement. It was formed to implement treaties under the Versailles settlement like the Versailles treaty with Germany and the treaty of St German with Austria plus other treaties that were yet to be signed with other defeated powers e.g. Bulgaria and Turkey. It should be emphasized that President Woodraw Wilson came with the idea of the League of Nations in the last point of his memorandum (14th point) after realizing that the previous 13 points and other resolutions would not be affected if an international organisation was not formed. This made it very easy for the Versailles peacemakers to endorse and support the formation of the League of Nations
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