The League of Nations: Successes and Failures

National Library of Norway

AS AN accompaniment of the economic and financial crisis the world has been afflicted with a general political unrest and an increase of mistrust and uncertainty in international relations. In this situation public opinion everywhere has turned its critical attention to the League of Nations, founded twelve years ago for the purpose of combating just such tendencies, and to promote international coöperation and safeguard peace. The question being asked is: What has the League of Nations done, what is it doing, to alleviate the crisis and help towards a solution of the world's urgent and complicated problems? The question is often asked skeptically, implying adverse criticism of the League's activities and doubt regarding its prospects.

In my opinion, criticism of what the League has done is necessary and useful; but to be as useful as possible the criticism must be discriminating. We must recognize frankly and fairly what the League has accomplished and what are its assets; we must make just as frank an appraisal of the respects in which it has not fulfilled its mission so as to decide fairly what constitute its liabilities.


The general objects for which the League of Nations was founded in January 1920, and the hopes that attached to it, are well known. Exasperated and horror-stricken at the fearful sacrifices entailed by the World War, at the blood spilt and at the moral as well as the material damage, mankind demanded the ending of that period in the world's development in which war was considered a normal political instrument for the settlement of international disputes. The introductory words of the Covenant stress the League's foremost object -- to promote international coöperation and to safeguard international peace and security.

In addition to these moral reasons there were also economic and political reasons why it was necessary to make a tremendous effort to establish a sound basis for future peace and security. But the moral reasons, which matured naturally in

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