CYIL vol. 11 (2020)

JAN ONDŘEJ – MAGDA UXOVÁ CYIL 11 (2020) The Covenant of the League of Nations, which entered into force in 1920, did not prohibit war, but introduced the notion of legal and illegal war, 9 instead of the earlier division into a just and an unjust war. States Parties were obliged to exhaust all means of peaceful settlement of disputes under the Covenant before reaching for war. Under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Covenant, states shall not resort to war until three months have passed since the arbitration or judicial finding or the report of the Council of the League of Nations. However, this legal war overlapped the cases of armed reprisals as well as self-defence. Assessing the legality or illegality of self-defence had been a matter for individual states without any effective role for the League of Nations. In the event that a member of the League resorted to war without fulfilling the obligations of a peaceful settlement under Articles 12, 13, and 15 of the Covenant, it was deemed that the state committed an act of war against all members of the Society. Article 16 dealt with the issue of the sanctions or collective coercion. According to M. Zimmermann, 10 this article partly expressed the concept of security, which in its broadest sense meant the organization of collective coercion and the overcoming the anarchic state of individual self-help. In this case, members of the Society undertook, in accordance with Article 16, paragraph 1, of the Covenant, to immediately terminate all commercial or financial relations and to prohibit all relations between their nationals and nationals of the State which violated the Covenant. The Covenant of the League of Nations also required Article 16 (2) of the Council to recommend that the States provided military forces to enforce the League’s obligations. However, Article 16 did not specify who made a binding finding of a violation of the Covenant, it must be considered that it was a matter for each individual State. 11 The only case of an application of Article 16 of the Covenant was the measures taken against Italy following its aggression against Ethiopia in 1935. However, the coercive measure was not carried out by the League of Nations, but it entrusted the implementation of Article 16 to an ad hoc coordination committee which consisted of only some of the member states. Apart from measures of an economic nature, the committee only proposed an embargo on arms exports to Italy. 12 The malfunction of the sanction mechanism thus characterized the nature of the League of Nations. Some states, such as Great Britain, 13 were fundamentally opposed to the application of Article 16. An effective sanction mechanism was therefore not established. As for Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovak diplomacy, led by Edvard Beneš, considered the League of Nations to be a logical and quite elaborate system of new international relations for many years, Czechoslovak diplomacy also considered the League of Nations to be corresponding with the new political and social construction of a democratic society of the 20th century based on basic principles of philosophy and morality. Czechoslovak diplomacy 9 ČEPELKA, Č.; DAVID, V. Úvod do teorie mezinárodního práva . [ Introduction to the Theory of International Law. ] Brno, 1983, p. 153. 10 ZIMMERMANN, M. A. Společnost národů . [ League of Nations. ] Praha: Orbis, 1931, p. 290. 11 HOBZA, A. Úvod do mezinárodního mírového práva. Část II . [ Introduction to International Law of Peace. Part II. ] Praha, 1935, p. 430. 12 ČEPELKA, Č.; ŠTURMA, P. Mezinárodní právo veřejné . [ Public International Law. ] Praha: Eurolex Bohemia, 2003, p. 659. 13 HOBZA, A. Úvod do mezinárodního mírového práva. Část II. [ Introduction to International Law of Peace. Part II. ] Praha, 1935, p. 432.


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