The League of Nations and the International Order after the First World War

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.7, 2015


The League of Nations and the International Order after the First World War



Xu Lan


The League of Nations was the first permanent international organization constituted by the world’s sovereign states after the unprecedented Great War. Established to maintain postwar world peace, it was a classic representative of the international order set up by the main winners. Based on the changes in the times and the victors’ own needs, it drew on both European systems of coordination and the operating mechanisms of other international organizations. Preparatory discussion about the founding of the League of Nations was mainly carried out between Britain and the USA, and its eventual establishment took the Covenant of the League of Nations as its main foundation in international law. Through its major organizational structure and functions, the League constructed the postwar international order. However, decision-making mechanisms under the Covenant of the League of Nations had serious shortcomings and problems as regards maintaining peace, safeguarding collective security, preventing wars, etc. Its powers were extremely limited, and great power hegemony prevailed. All this meant that the postwar international order set up through the League of Nations by the victors of the First World War was fragmentary. Not only did the League fail to make its rightful contribution to world peace, in objective terms, it actually encouraged aggression. The outbreak of the Second World War marked the total bankruptcy of the post-World War I international order represented by the League of Nations.