International Relations History

Why did the League of Nations fail to oversee the world peace? Do you think that the UN is more effective? Why or why not?

In the History of international relations and history of human kind in general there was always a struggle between national (personal) interests and international goodness (common interests). Depending on the stage of states and international relations development this opposition had different forms – from war between nations where moral values had no place to exist, to the negotiations stage and attempts to create international order preventing threat of the new World War. One of such attempts was creation of international organization aiming to be a mean of cooperation between countries and guarantor of collective security (though in the time of creation the exact term was not used). This idea was realized in the organization of the League of Nations in 1920. But it didn’t prevent the World War II.

Why was the existence of this organization only an attempt to secure world peace? Why did it fail?  These are the questions scholars are trying to answer for more than half of millennium. In this essay we’ll try to give our answer to it.

One of the reasons of organizations failure was originated in the conditions of its creation. Post war Europe was quite enthusiastic of the “idea of peace” and war prevention perspective, but in fact main participants of the WW I stayed the same in sense of the policy conductance and national interests advancement on the international arena. Thus the name of interstate relations was changed, but methods stayed the same. Each country be it UK or France were forcing their own interests in the old-fashioned way, meaning secret diplomacy aiming to weaken neighbour country, or ally, or opposite state. This was the case with reparations Germany was to pay for the war delicts, but since huge amount was to be paid to France Great Britain was opposing the amount offered, thus to avoid strengthening of the former historical rival in the European and world arena . Due to the contradictions and secret interests of its main members and absence of legally binding obligations among them the League of Nation was useless in the row of conflicts that appeared in the interwar period.

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Another reason for the League of Nation failure was division of post-war international relations participants into winners and losers and the idea of winners’ distribution of colonial territories between them, thus territorial world repartition continued, though in more civilized and bloodless manner. Since the League of Nations was holding the protectorate over the former German and Turkish colonies and they later on were given to the winners of the war, organization became just a tool for the land division, thus its practical activity ended up here .

On the other hand the League of Nations couldn’t secure world peace and order already because it wasn’t representing all countries of the world, in particular such big and influential as United States and Soviet Union. The first one, though being one of the League of Nations’ founders wasn’t a member because US Senate didn’t ratify Statute of the organization. On the other hand Soviet Union wasn’t even invited to participate in the organization up until 1934, when all the post-war issues were “settled” and territories divided. Hard to imagine global organization that is not enlisting among its members two biggest countries of the world. What kind of security and world peace can exist under such conditions?

Thus from the moment of its foundation the League of Nations was doomed to failure as a mean of world peace and security provision. From all above mentioned it becomes clear that world peace and security cannot be based on national interest policies of the states, the corner stone for the cooperation in the field of security should be common interest of world peace and equal status of the member countries. These were the most obvious fails of the League of Nations and its successor organization should’ve learned from its mistakes.

About the role and efficiency of the United Nations Organization were written dozens of books and even more academic articles, and research studies, though all of them can be divided into two categories sceptics and optimists. Personally I prefer realist approach of analysis and my opinion is based mainly on the actual facts and observations.

UN is more effective than the League of Nations. First of all because it didn’t lead to the WW III, which is definitely a huge advantage of the organization, though some consider that inability of UN to take real decisions and enforce their fulfilment, were the reasons of the Cold War. To my mind this idea is an exaggeration of the UN role in the Cold War development. On the other hand is UN such a guarantor of the world peace and security as it is declared in its Status? Probably it is not.

The totality of the bilateral and international conflicts that took place during UN existence, from the Arabic-Israel, Vietnam wars to the war in Yugoslavia and current war against terrorism, proves that UN just can’t stop countries from going into war. In order not to return to the Cold War Period, but to refer to the recent events, UN couldn’t prevent US from going to Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as couldn’t deal effectively with the issue of non-proliferation and Iran nuclear programme, or instability on the African continent due to the national movements and ethnic conflicts etc.

Among the main reasons of such situation is lack of power UN has, meaning its decisions are not compulsory unless the states agree to follow offered prescriptions (in cases of military conflicts) or particular sanctions are applied (though in case of Iran nuclear programme they turned to be ineffective). It is obvious that no state in the world will let UN decision to be legally binding and compulsory, especially under its current organisation and Security Council structure.

The Security Council traditional structure is another reason for disbelieve in the UN efficiency. Inability to achieve consensus among the permanent members is usually the cause of deadlock of the most essential issues of security and peace provision decisions. In order to respond to the today challenges Security Council should be reformed and become more transparent in decision making process.

In conclusion it should be said that it is difficult to compare UN to the League of Nations mainly because the scales of aims of two organizations are a bit different. The League of Nations was created to prevent the WW II and UN was created to secure world peace and stability, and they both failed to do so. Though in the framework of the League of Nations’ aims UN succeeded since it prevented the WW III and the Cold War period ended without any severe nuclear conflicts, except for Caribbean crises of course. So in comparison to the League of Nations UN is definitely more effective. Another question is whether it is effective in securing world peace nowadays.

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