CYIL vol. 11 (2020)

JAN ONDŘEJ – MAGDA UXOVÁ CYIL 11 (2020) “The League system had major flaws. There was no ban on resort to force short of war. This qualification manifestly induced States to engage in war operations while claiming that they were merely using coercion short of war and were therefore not breaking any provision of the Covenant. As for instance, there was the case of Manchuria, when Japan attacked China (1932). 43 As for the fulfilment of the mission of the League of Nations as a collective security organization, the problem was also that not all the major powers of that time were its members. That was the United States, which was never a member of this organization, Germany was a member only from 1926 to 1933, Japan withdrew from the League in 1933 and Italy in 1937. Another problem was the fact that every member of the League of Nations, whether permanent or non-permanent had a veto when voting in the Council of the League of Nations. In the 1930s, the number of members increased, and with that also increased the number of veto cases. 44 For comparison, in 1936, the number of non-permanent members increased to eleven compared to four non-permanent members in 1920. It can be stated that the most important legacy 45 of the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919 in terms of international relations, was the creation of the League of Nations. The old system failed, and states felt the need to create new institutions to protect and secure peace. This system was however from the very beginning paralyzed by the non-participation of the United States and also by the non-participation of the Soviet Union for most of the organization’s existence, Soviet Union was later expelled when it invaded Finland in 1939 without declaring war. The League of Nations thus remained essentially a European organization in which not all of the most important European states were members at the same time. The League of Nations was the first organized attempt to promote the ideas that were meant to ensure that there would be no more war in the world. During the interwar period, this intention proved to be unrealizable and unrealistic. The European powers, in particular, tried to achieve this but did not have enough power to achieve their goal. The most important powers were never members of the League of Nations at the same time or were not members of this organization at all. From the economic point of view, the USA was the most important, but it never became a member of the League of Nations. Although Great Britain had extensive economic and power capacities, and was a member from the beginning to the end of the existence of the League of Nations, it never paid the League of Nations the attention which was needed. From the point of view of the membership of individual states, it was important that the League of Nations was founded on the equality of its members, but the states defeated in the World War I - Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey – were not initially accepted into this organization. The League of Nations was a tool to maintain a Versailles system based on peace treaties in which the victors dictated their terms. When the states defeated in the World War I later join the League of Nations, their main effort was not to develop the League, rather they had revisionist efforts in mind, which was most pronounced in the case of Germany.

43 CASSESE, A. International Law . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 33. 44 LOWE, V., ROBERTS, A., WELSH, J., ZAUM, D. (edts.). The United Nations Security Council and War (The Evolution of Thought and Praktice since 1945) . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 10-11. 45 SHAW, M., N. International Law. 8 th edition . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, p. 22.


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