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Sir Eric Drummond
Sir Eric Drummond (1876–1951) was the first secretary-general of the League of Nations. Educated at Eton College, Drummond entered the British Foreign Office in 1900. He rose to become private secretary to Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey in 1915–16 and continued in that position under Grey’s successor, Arthur Balfour, in 1916–18. As a member of the British delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 he was involved in the drafting of the Covenant of the League of Nations. With strong backing from British and American ...
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Joseph Avenol
Joseph Avenol (1879–1952) was a French diplomat who served as the secretary-general of the League of Nations in the years leading up to World War II. After a career in the French Ministry of Finance, in 1923 he was appointed League deputy secretary-general, with particular responsibility for coordination of post-World War I financial reconstruction. On July 1, 1933, he succeeded former British diplomat Sir Eric Drummond (1876–1951), who had been secretary-general of the League since its establishment in 1919. Avenol took office four months after Japan withdrew from ...
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Sean Lester
Sean Lester (1888–1959) was an Irish journalist and government official who held important positions in the League of Nations. A Protestant who was educated at the Methodist College in Belfast, he nonetheless supported Irish independence and was a member of Sinn Fein. Following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, he joined the country’s foreign ministry and in 1929 became Ireland’s representative to the League of Nations. He chaired committees attempting to resolve territorial disputes between Peru and Colombia and between Bolivia and Paraguay, and ...
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Under the Auspices of the League, Saar Plebiscite
After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles placed the territories of the Saar basin, formerly part of Germany, under the administration of the League of Nations for a period of 15 years. As compensation for the destruction by Germany of coal mines in the north of France and part of the reparations Germany was to pay for the war, France was given control of the coal mines of the Saar for this period. The administration of the territory was entrusted to a Governing Commission consisting of five members chosen ...
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Summary of Petition of Railroad Workers of Hungarian Origin and Protection of Minorities in Czechoslovakia
After World War I, the states of central and southeastern Europe were compelled by the victorious Allied and Associated Powers to sign agreements guaranteeing religious, social, and political equality to their minority populations. The states covered were Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Groups or individuals who believed they had been discriminated against for ethnic or linguistic reasons could petition the League of Nations for redress by the Council. The Minority Section within the League Secretariat was responsible for screening incoming petitions, requesting responses from the accused ...
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Petition of Railroad Workers of Hungarian Origin, Draft Reply, Legal Arguments
After World War I, the states of central and southeastern Europe were compelled by the victorious Allied and Associated Powers to sign agreements guaranteeing religious, social, and political equality to their minority populations. The states covered were Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Groups or individuals who believed they had been discriminated against for ethnic or linguistic reasons could petition the League of Nations for redress by the Council. The Minority Section within the League Secretariat was responsible for screening incoming petitions, requesting responses from the accused ...
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French Mandate for Togoland
As a consequence of World War I, Germany was stripped of its colonies and the Ottoman Empire was partitioned and forced to surrender control of territories in the Middle East. The Covenant of the League of Nations established a system under which the League conferred upon certain states a mandate to rule those former colonies which, in the language of the Covenant, were “inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” Britain and the British Empire, France, Belgium, and Japan ...
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Mandate for Palestine and Memorandum by the British Government Relating to its Application to Transjordan
After World War I, the Covenant of the League of Nations established a system by which the League was empowered to confer upon certain of the victorious powers mandates to administer territories formerly ruled by Germany or the Ottoman Empire. Mandated territories were to be governed on behalf of the League, until such time as they could become independent. On September 16, 1922, the Council of the League approved a mandate to Great Britain for Palestine, previously part of the Ottoman Empire. The mandate provided for the eventual creation of ...
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Slavery Convention
The 1926 Slavery Convention was an agreement among member states of the League of Nations that obliged signatories to eliminate slavery, the slave trade, and forced labor in their territories. It defined slavery as the status or condition of a person over which the powers of ownership are applied; the slave trade as acts involving the capture, selling, or transport of enslaved people; and forced labor as a “condition analogous to slavery” that had to be regulated and eventually stopped. The Slavery Convention was the work of the Temporary Slave ...
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Ratification by China of the Convention for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs
The first global attempt to control the traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs (such as morphine, heroin, and cocaine) occurred via the Hague Convention, signed by 42 nations in 1912. The signatory states agreed to allow the import only of such drugs as were considered necessary for medicinal and scientific purposes. World War I broke out before the convention could be implemented, but after the war the League of Nations was entrusted with reactivating the convention. It soon became evident that in order to prevent the illicit smuggling of ...
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Passport Request, Nansen Office in Berlin
The Nansen International Office for Refugees was authorized by the League of Nations in the fall of 1930 and began active operations on April 1, 1931. It was the successor to the first international agency dealing with refugees, the High Commission for Refugees, established in June 1921 by the League of Nations under the direction of the Norwegian explorer and statesman Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930). The League Secretariat had assumed responsibility for international refugees and stateless persons and charged the Nansen office with carrying out its responsibilities in this area ...
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Nansen Passport with Stamps
The Nansen passport was a certificate issued by the Nansen International Office for Refugees as an international substitute for a passport, which allowed stateless persons or those deprived of their national passports to enter and transit other countries. The Nansen office was the successor to the first international agency dealing with refugees, the High Commission for Refugees, established in June 1921 by the League of Nations under the direction of the Norwegian explorer and statesman Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930). The League Secretariat had assumed responsibility for international refugees and stateless ...
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Bombings in Spain. Petition Forwarded to the League of Nations by the International Labour Organisation, from the President of the Labour Council, Miguel Santalo
The Spanish Civil War of 1936–39 involved a prolonged revolt of forces led by Nationalist general Francisco Franco against the Spanish Republican government, which ultimately was won by the Nationalists. Under the leadership of dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy supported the Nationalists with supplies of weapons and direct military involvement. On March 16–18, 1938, Italian forces carried out an aerial bombardment of Republican-held Barcelona in support of the Nationalists, resulting in the death of more than 1,000 civilians. Shown here is a petition forwarded on March 31, 1938 ...
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Bombings in Spain. Draft Reply of the League of Nations
On March 31, 1938, Miguel Santalo, president of the Labour Council of the Spanish Republic, sent a petition to the director of the International Labour Organisation requesting that the League of Nations condemn Italy for its bombardment, on March 16–18, 1938, of the city of Barcelona, which resulted in the death of more than 1,000 civilians. The Italian action was undertaken in support of the Nationalist forces of General Francisco Franco, who were fighting to overthrow the government of the Spanish Republic. Santalo argued that the bombardment contravened ...
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Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism
The document presented here is the archival copy of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism, which was adopted by 24 member states of the League of Nations on November 16, 1937. The concluding pages of the document contain the signatures of the representatives of the states. In a few cases, reservations, either typed or handwritten, accompany the signatures. The French government had proposed, following the assassination by Croatian and Macedonian separatists of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in Marseilles in 1934, that the League adopt a convention ...
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Convention on the International Status of Refugees
This document is the original typewritten text of the Convention on the International Status of Refugees, which was concluded on October 28, 1933, by five countries—Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, France, and Norway—and subsequently adhered to by a number of others. The convention was the most far-reaching attempt on the part of the League of Nations to define the responsibilities of states towards refugees. It grew out of four multilateral League arrangements that were adopted between 1922 and 1928 in response to refugee problems caused by World War I and ...
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Treaty of Relation Between Cuba and the United States, Certified Copy Deposited at the League of Nations
Article 18 of the Covenant of the League of Nations stipulated that “every treaty or international engagement entered into hereafter by any Member of the League shall be forthwith registered with the Secretariat and shall as soon as possible be published by it. No such treaty or international engagement shall be binding until so registered.” President Woodrow Wilson of the United States believed that secret agreements between states had been a major cause of World War I and therefore insisted, at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20, that the ...
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Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
The document presented here is the archival copy of the Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, which was adopted by resolution of the Assembly of the League of Nations at its fifth session on October 1, 1924, and opened for signature by member states on the following day. The last four pages of the document contain the dated signatures of the ambassadors of 19 countries that adhered to the protocol. They included France, Belgium, and other European countries, Ethiopia, and several countries in Latin America. Article 10 of ...
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Memorandum on the Organization of a System of Federal European Union
At the annual meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations in September 1929, Foreign Minister Aristide Briand of France proposed the establishment of a federal European union to coordinate economic and political policies. Briand believed that the proposed union should be created within the framework of the League, and promised to submit a detailed plan for a federal union to the 27 European states that were League members. Shown here is Briand’s plan, which was issued for discussion on May 1, 1930. The proposal was brought before ...
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European Nationality—What You Should Know about Europe and European Nationality
At the annual meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations in September 1929, Foreign Minister Aristide Briand of France proposed the establishment of a federal European union to coordinate economic and political policies. Briand believed that the proposed union should be created within the framework of the League, and promised to submit a detailed plan for a federal union to the 27 European states that were League members. This initiative inspired the formation of the non-governmental Office of European Nationality, which launched a public campaign in support of ...
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Negotiating Table of the Locarno Treaties
The Locarno Conference of October 1925, named for the small city in southern Switzerland where it was held, is remembered for the agreement known as the Locarno Pact. Signed by France, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, and Italy, the treaty guaranteed Germany’s western frontier, which the bordering states of France, Germany, and Belgium pledged to treat as inviolable. Britain and Italy promised to help in repelling any armed aggression across the frontier. The Rhineland, a part of Germany occupied by the victorious Allied Powers after World War I, was permanently ...
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