Covenant of the League of Nations

Last updated

Covenant of the League of Nations
Signed28 June 1919
Location Paris Peace Conference
Effective10 January 1920
ExpirationApril 20, 1946
ExpiryJuly 31, 1947
Parties League of Nations members
Depositary League of Nations
Wikisource-logo.svg Covenant of the League of Nations at Wikisource

The Covenant of the League of Nations was the charter of the League of Nations.

Charter grant of authority or rights

A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority, and that the recipient admits a limited status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term.

League of Nations 20th-century intergovernmental organisation, predecessor to the United Nations

The League of Nations, abbreviated as LN or LoN, was an intergovernmental organisation founded on 10 January 1920 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, the arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members.

Contents

Creation

Early drafts for a possible League of Nations began even before the end of the First World War. The London-based Bryce Group made proposals adopted by the British League of Nations Society, founded in 1915. [1] Another group in the United States—which included Hamilton Holt and William B. Howland at the Century Association in New York City—had their own plan. This plan was largely supported by the League to Enforce Peace, an organization led by former U.S. President William Howard Taft. [1] In December 1916, Lord Robert Cecil suggested that an official committee be set up to draft a covenant for a future league. The British committee was finally appointed in February 1918; it was led by Walter Phillimore (and became known as the Phillimore Committee) but also included Eyre Crowe, William Tyrrell, and Cecil Hurst. [1] U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was not impressed with the Phillimore Committee's report, and would eventually produce three draft covenants of his own with help from his friend Colonel House. Further suggestions were made by Jan Christiaan Smuts in December 1918. [1]

The Bryce Group was a loose organisation of British Liberal Party members which was devoted to studying international organisation.

The League of Nations Society was a political group devoted to campaigning for an international organisation of nations, with the aim of preventing war.

Hamilton Holt American politician and educator

Hamilton Holt was an American educator, editor, author and politician.

At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, a commission was appointed to agree on a covenant. Members included Woodrow Wilson (as chair), Colonel House (representing the U.S.), Robert Cecil and Jan Smuts (British Empire), Léon Bourgeois and Ferdinand Larnaude (France), Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando and Vittorio Scialoja (Italy), Foreign Minister Makino Nobuaki and Chinda Sutemi (Japan), Paul Hymans (Belgium), Epitácio Pessoa (Brazil), Wellington Koo (China), Jayme Batalha Reis (Portugal), and Milenko Radomar Vesnitch (Serbia). [2] Further representatives of Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland and Romania were later added. The group considered a preliminary draft co-written by Hurst and President Wilson's adviser David Hunter Miller. During the first four months of 1919 the group met on ten separate occasions, attempting to negotiate the exact terms of the foundational Covenant agreement for the future League.

Paris Peace Conference, 1919 peace conference 1919-1920

The Paris Peace Conference, also known as Versailles Peace Conference, was the meeting of the victorious Allied Powers following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers.

Léon Bourgeois French statesman

Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois was a French statesman. His ideas influenced the Radical Party regarding a wide range of issues. He promoted progressive taxation such as progressive income taxes and social insurance schemes, along with economic equality, expanded educational opportunities, and cooperative solidarism. In foreign policy, he called for a strong League of Nations, and the maintenance of peace through compulsory arbitration, controlled disarmament, economic sanctions, and perhaps an international military force.

Makino Nobuaki Japanese politician

Count Makino Nobuaki was a Japanese statesman, active from the Meiji period through the Pacific War.

During the ensuing negotiations various major objections arose from various countries. France wanted the League to form an international army to enforce its decisions, but the British worried such an army would be dominated by the French, and the Americans could not agree as only Congress could declare war. [1] Japan requested that a clause upholding the principle of racial equality should be inserted, parallel to the existing religious equality clause. This was deeply opposed, particularly by American political sentiment, while Wilson himself simply ignored the question.

Anti-racism beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism

Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism.

During a certain interval while Wilson was away, the question of international equality was raised once again. A vote on a motion supporting the "equality of nations and the just treatment of their nationals" was made, and was supported by 11 of the 19 delegates. Upon Wilson's return he declared that "serious objections" by other delegates had negated the majority vote, and the amendment was dismissed. [1] Finally on April 11, 1919, the revised Hurst-Miller draft was approved, but without fully resolving certain questions as had been brought forth regarding matters such as national equality, racial equality, and how the new League might be able to practically enforce its various mandates. [1]

The new League would include a General Assembly (representing all member states), an Executive Council (with membership limited to major powers), and a permanent secretariat. Member states were expected to "respect and preserve as against external aggression" the territorial integrity of other members, and to disarm "to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety". All states were required to submit complaints for arbitration or judicial inquiry before going to war. [1] The Executive Council would create a Permanent Court of International Justice to make judgements on the disputes.

Disarmament act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons

Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms. General and Complete Disarmament was defined by the United Nations General Assembly as the elimination of all WMD, coupled with the “balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments, based on the principle of undiminished security of the parties with a view to promoting or enhancing stability at a lower military level, taking into account the need of all States to protect their security.”

Arbitration technique for the resolution of disputes

Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a way to resolve disputes outside the courts. The dispute will be decided by one or more persons, which renders the "arbitration award". An arbitration award is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts.

Permanent Court of International Justice

The Permanent Court of International Justice, often called the World Court, existed from 1922 to 1946. It was an international court attached to the League of Nations. Created in 1920, the Court was initially well-received from states and academics alike, with many cases submitted to it for its first decade of operation. With the heightened international tension of the 1930s, the Court became less used. By a resolution from the League of Nations on 18 April 1946, the Court and the League both ceased to exist and were replaced by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations.

The treaty entered into force on 10 January 1920. Articles 4, 6, 12, 13, and 15 were amended in 1924. The treaty shares similar provisions and structures with the UN Charter. [3]

Article X

Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations is the section calling for assistance to be given to a member that experiences external aggression. It was signed by the major Peacemakers (Allied Forces) following the First World War, most notably Britain and France. Due to the nature of the Article, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was unable to ratify his obligation to join the League of Nations, as a result of strong objection from U.S. politicians.

Although Wilson had secured his proposal for a League of Nations in the final draft of the Treaty of Versailles, the U.S. Senate refused to consent to the ratification of the Treaty. For many Republicans in the Senate, Article X was the most objectionable provision. Their objections were based on the fact that, by ratifying such a document, the United States would be bound by international contract to defend a League of Nations member if it was attacked. Henry Cabot Lodge from Massachusetts and Frank B. Brandegee from Connecticut led the fight in the U.S. Senate against ratification, believing that it was best not to become involved in international conflicts. Under the United States Constitution, the President of the United States may not ratify a treaty unless the Senate, by a two-thirds vote, gives its advice and consent.

See also

Related Research Articles

Universal Declaration of Human Rights declaration adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a historic document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its third session on 10 December 1948 as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. Of the then 58 members of the United Nations, 48 voted in favor, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote.

Woodrow Wilson 28th president of the United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States during World War I, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights United Nations General Assembly resolution adopted in 1966

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Resolution 2200A (XXI) on 16 December 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976 in accordance with Article 49 of the covenant. Article 49 allowed that the covenant will enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or accession. The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. As of August 2017, the Covenant has 172 parties and six more signatories without ratification.

Henry Cabot Lodge American statesman

Henry Cabot Lodge was an American Republican Senator and historian from Massachusetts. A member of the prominent Lodge family, he received his PhD in history from Harvard University. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. He is best known for his positions on foreign policy, especially his battle with President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 over the Treaty of Versailles. The failure of that treaty ensured that the United States never joined the League of Nations.

Fourteen Points peace treaty

The Fourteen Points was a statement of principles for peace that was to be used for peace negotiations in order to end World War I. The principles were outlined in a January 8, 1918, speech on war aims and peace terms to the United States Congress by President Woodrow Wilson. But his main Allied colleagues were skeptical of the applicability of Wilsonian idealism.

The Hay–Pauncefote Treaty is a treaty signed by the United States and Great Britain on 18 November 1901, as a legal preliminary to the U.S. building the Panama Canal. It nullified the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty of 1850 and gave the United States the right to create and control a canal across the Central American isthmus to connect the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. In the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty, both nations had renounced building such a canal under the sole control of one nation.

Jan Smuts military leader, politician and statesman from South Africa

Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts was a South African statesman, military leader, and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948. Although Smuts had originally advocated racial segregation and opposed the enfranchisement of black Africans, his views changed and he backed the Fagan Commission's findings that complete segregation was impossible. Smuts subsequently lost the 1948 election to hard-line nationalists who created apartheid. He continued to work for reconciliation and emphasised the British Commonwealth’s positive role until his death in 1950.

Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood lawyer, politician and diplomat in the United Kingdom

Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood,, known as Lord Robert Cecil from 1868 to 1923, was a British lawyer, politician and diplomat. He was one of the architects of the League of Nations and a defender of it, whose service to the organisation saw him awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937.

Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent that lacked the authority to bind the principal legally. Ratification defines the international act in which a state indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty if the parties intended to show their consent by such an act. In the case of bilateral treaties, ratification is usually accomplished by exchanging the requisite instruments, and in the case of multilateral treaties, the usual procedure is for the depositary to collect the ratifications of all states, keeping all parties informed of the situation.

Irreconcilables

The Irreconcilables were bitter opponents of the Treaty of Versailles in the United States in 1919. Specifically, the term refers to about 12 to 18 United States Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, who fought intensely to defeat the ratification of the treaty by the Senate in 1919. They succeeded, and the United States never ratified the Treaty of Versailles and never joined the League of Nations.

Human rights in Switzerland

Human rights are comprehensively guaranteed in Switzerland, one of Europe's oldest democracies. Together with other European states, Switzerland is often at or near the head in international civil liberties and political rights rankings. Switzerland places human rights at the core of the nation's value system, as represented in the Federal Constitution and political model. Promotion of peace, mutual respect, equality and non-discrimination are central to the country's democratic election.

Presidency of Woodrow Wilson

The presidency of Woodrow Wilson began on March 4, 1913 at noon when Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1921. Wilson, a Democrat, took office as the 28th U.S. President after winning the 1912 presidential election, gaining a large majority in the Electoral College and a 42% plurality of the popular vote in a four–candidate field. Wilson was re-elected in 1916, defeated Republican Charles Evans Hughes by a fairly narrow margin. He was the first Southerner to be elected president since Zachary Taylor in 1848, and just the second Democrat to be elected president since 1860.

Lodge Reservations

United States Senator Henry Cabot Lodge from Massachusetts was the Republican Majority Leader and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. In response to the Treaty of Versailles, Senator Lodge penned fourteen reservations to the proposed post-war agreements. The Treaty called for the creation of a League of Nations in which the promise of mutual security would hopefully prevent another major world war. The League charter which Wilson primarily wrote let the League set the terms for war and peace. If the League called for military action all members would have to join in. Lodge wanted to join the League of Nations with reservations. The Democrats in the Senate, following Wilson's direction, rejected Lodge's proposal to join the League with his reservations. Republicans opposed joining under Wilson's terms of no reservations which meant the League could force the U.S. to enter a war without approval of Congress. In the end the Senate voted down the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and never joined the new League of Nations. Lodge won in the long run—his reservations were incorporated into the United Nations in 1945, where the U.S. had a veto.

Chapter XVI of the United Nations Charter contains miscellaneous provisions prohibiting secret treaties, establishing the UN Charter as supreme over any other treaties, and providing for privileges and immunities of UN officials and representatives.

The Racial Equality Proposal was an amendment to the treaty under consideration at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference offered by Japan. The racial equality proposal was never intended to have any universal implications. Foreign Minister Uchida stated in June 1919 that the racial equality proposal was not intended to demand universal racial equality of all coloured peoples, but only for members of the League of Nations. Though broadly supported, it did not become part of the Treaty of Versailles, largely because of the opposition of Australia and the United States, two powers with long established de jure and de facto systems of racial discrimination and policies of white supremacy. Its rejection led to the alienation of Japan from the other great powers and increased nationalism leading up to World War II. The principle of racial equality would be revisited after the Second World War and be incorporated into the United Nations Charter in 1945 as the fundamental principle of international justice. Despite that several countries, including the two aforementioned powers would retain officially sanctioned racial laws and policies for decades afterwards.

The U.S.—German Peace Treaty is a peace treaty between the U.S. and German governments, signed in Berlin on August 25, 1921, in the aftermath of World War I. The main reason for the conclusion of that treaty was the fact that the U.S. Senate did not consent to ratification of the multilateral peace treaty signed in Versailles, thus leading to a separate peace treaty. Ratifications were exchanged in Berlin on November 11, 1921, and the treaty became effective on the same day. The treaty was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on August 12, 1922.

The League to Enforce Peace (LEP) was an American organization established in 1915 to promote the formation of an international body for world peace. It was formed in Philadelphia by American citizens concerned by the outbreak of World War I in Europe.

The Fontainebleau Memorandum is the name given to a document written by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and his advisers during the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 that was drafting the Treaty of Versailles. It was titled ‘Some Considerations for the Peace Conference Before They Finally Draft Their Terms, March 25th, 1919’.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Northedge, F. S. (1986). The League of Nations: Its life and times, 1920–1946. Leicester University Press. ISBN   0-7185-1194-8.
  2. Commission de la Société des Nations, Procès-verbal N° 1, Séance du 3 février 1919 (PDF), 1919-02-03, retrieved 2014-01-05
  3. League of Nations Covenant and United Nations Charter: A Side-by-Side (Full Text) Comparison by Walter Dorn

Wikisource-logo.svg Works related to Covenant of the League of Nations at Wikisource