The League of Nations was founded in 1920 by forty-two states, twenty of which were non-European countries. Its goal was to act as a mediator in ensuring the new post-war order, and to prevent further armed conflict where possible. It had a General Assembly, a Secretariat and an Executive Council, but decisions had to be passed unanimously, and it did not have its own armed forces. Member states signed a declaration committing themselves to respecting one another’s independence and borders. Although it was the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, who had insisted on its foundations, the USA never became a member. Thus the fate of the international organisation was sealed, as without the new world power that was the United States – the role of which had been decisive in winning the war – it was unable to back up its decisions with real power. After 1939 the League of Nations ceased to be operational, but was only officially declared to be defunct in 1946, after the foundation of its successor organisation, the United Nations.
„Rather than on brute force, rights should be based on the shared power of the nations."
„It is the mission of the League of Nations to be the tutor of the less developed countries."
„The League of Nations provides for territorial integrity plus later alteration of boundaries if it could be shown that injustice had been done or that conditions had changed."
„The League of Nations is no substitute for the British fleet."
„This was an American inspiration forced and foisted upon Europe against its forward inclination."
„It’s useless even to talk about the League of Nations. Soon Europe will turn to America, asking it to save the civilized world."
Warren G. Harding
„The League of Nations is the dictatorship of four big powers."
Warren G. Harding
„The League of Nations may do a little good, but the more pompous it is and the more it pretends to do, the less it will really accomplish."
„The League of Nations is dead, long live the United Nations!"
Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (1946)