40 results in English
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Locarno Treaties: Treaty between Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Italy
The document presented here is the archival copy of the treaty concluded by the governments of Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Italy in the city of Locarno, Switzerland, on October 16, 1925. The final page contains the diplomatic seals and the signatures of the representatives of the five signatory powers, who included Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann of Germany, Foreign Minister Aristide Briand of France, and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin of Great Britain. The text is in French. Also known as the Locarno Pact, the treaty guaranteed Germany’s western ...
Pollution of the Sea by Oil. Draft Replies of the Governments Relating to the Draft Convention
With the development of an international petroleum industry in the first part of the 20th century, pollution of the sea by oil became a matter of international concern. In July 1934 the government of the United Kingdom raised this issue in a letter to the secretary-general of the League of Nations, after a campaign by several civil society organizations raised awareness of the damage and threats to maritime industry, tourism, and wildlife. In November 1934 the Council of the League authorized the League’s Communications and Transit Organization to create ...
Hygiene and Public Health in Japan, Chosen and Manchuria. Report on Conditions Met with During the Tour of the League of Nations Interchange of Health Officers
As part of its work in the area of international health, the League of Nations organized the “Interchange of Health Personnel” for the purpose of affording “opportunity to Health Officers of different countries for seeing the organization of and equipment of, and the methods employed by the health services of the country visited….” In October–December 1926, a delegation led by A.R. Wellington, senior health officer in the Federated Malay States (present-day Malaysia), undertook a tour of health facilities in Japan, Korea (then under Japanese rule and known as ...
The League of Nations: A Pictoral Survey
The League of Nations: A Pictoral Survey is a small book, published in 1925 by the Information Section of the League Secretariat and updated in 1928, intended to educate the general public about the nature and purpose of the League. It explains the organizational structure of the League and its main institutions—Assembly, Council, and Permanent Secretariat—and associated bodies such as the International Labour Organisation and the Permanent Court of International Justice. A flow chart on page nine shows the relationship between the executive and legislative bodies of the ...
International Conference Regarding the Use of Esperanto
Esperanto is a synthetic language devised by Polish eye doctor Ludwik Lazar Zamenhof (1859–1917), who in 1887 published a pamphlet in Russian, Polish, French, and German describing Esperanto and proposing it as an easy-to-learn second language. An international Esperanto movement developed in the 1890s, culminating in the first world congress of Esperanto speakers in 1905. After World War I, the League of Nations considered adopting Esperanto as a working language and recommending that it be taught in schools, but proposals along these lines were vetoed by France. The League ...
Disarmament Conference, Geneva, 1933
Sixty countries sent delegates to the Disarmament Conference that convened in Geneva in February 1932 to consider reductions in armaments, with particular emphasis on offensive weapons. Germany, whose army and navy already were limited by the Treaty of Versailles, demanded that other states disarm to German levels and, in the event they refused to do so, claimed a right to build up its armed forces. France, which feared the revival of German power, argued that security must precede disarmament and called for security guarantees and the establishment of an international ...
Marie Curie
Marie Curie, neé Manya Sklodowska (1867–1934), was born in Warsaw. She immigrated to France in 1891 and studied at the Sorbonne. She worked with her husband, Pierre Curie (1859–1906), also a student and later professor at the Sorbonne, on magnetism and radioactivity. The Curies and French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852–1908) shared the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of radioactivity. After her husband’s death, Marie succeeded to his university chair. In 1911 she won a second Nobel, the prize for chemistry, for her ...
Béla Bartók
Composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist Béla Bartók (1881–1945) was born in Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary (present-day Sânnicolau Mare, Romania). He studied music in Pressburg (present-day Bratislava, Slovakia) and at the Budapest Academy of Music. In 1904 he began collecting folksongs, which he recorded and classified. Between 1907 and 1934 he was professor of piano at the Budapest academy. His compositions include an opera, two ballets, orchestral music, chamber music, and folksong arrangements. This photograph of Bartók is from the archives of the League of Nations. In 1931 Bartók was invited to join ...
Letter from Albert Einstein to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations in Geneva
The document shown here is a short, handwritten letter, dated June 25, 1924, from Albert Einstein to Sir Eric Drummond, secretary-general of the League of Nations, written on the occasion of Einstein’s reelection to the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. The text reads: “I hereby thankfully accept the renewed election to the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. In light of my past behavior, the election means an act of special generosity of spirit, and filled me with joy as a result. I shall always try to give my best in the ...
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann (1875–1955) achieved fame with his first novel, Buddenbrooks (1901), which recounts the story of the physical decline of a once vigorous merchant family as it turns from business to the arts. Mann’s other works include Death in Venice (1912), The Magic Mountain (1924), the tetralogy Joseph and His Brothers (1933–43), and Doctor Faustus (1947). Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. He left Germany in 1933 after the Nazi seizure of power, lived in Switzerland, and then moved to the United States ...
Membership of Germany in the League of Nations. Letter from Gustav Stresseman
In 1924, the newly appointed foreign minister of Germany, Gustav Stresemann, adopted a new policy toward the League of Nations, which governments in Berlin previously had spurned as an instrument created by the victors of World War I to suppress the defeated Germans. In December 1924, Stresemann dispatched an application for Germany’s admission to the League, but on the condition that it also be made a member of the League Council. This request was denied, but in early 1925 Stresemann made a second attempt. The path to German membership ...
Withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations. Letter from Konstantin von Neurath
In October 1933, some nine months after Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, the German government announced its withdrawal from the League of Nations. The ostensible reason was the refusal of the Western powers to acquiesce in Germany’s demands for military parity. With this curt letter, dated October 19, 1933, Foreign Minister Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath informed the League of Nations secretary-general, Joseph Avenol, of Germany’s withdrawal. Germany’s departure from the international organization was followed by its massive military buildup, undertaken in violation of international agreements ...
The Big Parade
This political cartoon was created in 1932 by Alois Derso (1888–1964) and Emery Kelen (1896–1978). Derso and Kelen were Hungarians who worked for the League of Nations in Geneva, where they were renowned for their satirical portrayals of the League and its conferences. “The Big Parade” concerns the 1932 Geneva Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments. It shows a procession of politicians rushing across the page in comical versions of their national costumes. Adolf Hitler of Germany, Prime Minister Saitō of Japan, and Prime Minister Pierre ...
Military Situation in Manchuria before 18 September 1931. Map Prepared for Lytton's Report on the Sino-Japanese Conflict
On the night of September 18, 1931, anti-Japanese activists set off explosions on the Japanese-owned South Manchurian Railroad in Manchuria, northeastern China. The Japanese army used the incident as a pretext to invade Manchuria, and quickly occupied its key cities. China appealed to the world’s powers for help. The Council of the League of Nations, supported by the United States, sought to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict. In early 1932, the Council dispatched an inquiry commission to China under the leadership of the British diplomat, the Earl ...
Situation in Manchuria: Report of the Lytton Commission of Inquiry
On the night of September 18, 1931, anti-Japanese activists set off explosions on the Japanese-owned South Manchurian Railroad in Manchuria, northeastern China. The Japanese army used the incident as a pretext to invade Manchuria, and quickly occupied key Manchurian cities. China appealed to the world’s powers for help. The Council of the League of Nations, supported by the United States, sought to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict. In early 1932, the Council dispatched an inquiry commission to China under the leadership of the British diplomat, the Earl ...
Speech by the His Majesty Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, at the Assembly of the League of Nations, at the Session of June–July 1936
In the early 1930s, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was determined to expand Italy’s African empire by annexing Ethiopia. In December 1934, a clash, provoked by the Italians, occurred between Italian and Ethiopian armed forces at Walwal on the Ethiopian side of the frontier with Italian Somaliland. Mussolini declared the incident “an act of self-defense” and thus not subject to arbitration under international agreements. Italy demanded compensation and formal recognition of the area as Italian. When Emperor Haile Selassie refused to yield to these demands, Italy began mobilizing its forces ...
Marquis Garroni and Benito Mussolini
Alois Derso (1888–1964) was a noted Hungarian cartoonist and satirist who worked for the League of Nations during the 1920s and 1930s. He specialized in drawing satirical pictures of prominent world leaders and of League meetings, such as the 1932 Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments. This caricature by Derso depicts Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) and Marquis Eugenio Camillo Garroni (1852–1935), the Italian ambassador to Turkey and a delegate to the 1922–23 Lausanne Conference. Garroni is depicted as a short, portly, and servile ...
Letter of Resignation of James G. McDonald, High Commissioner for Refugees (Jewish and Other) Coming from Germany
James G. McDonald was an American diplomat who in October 1933 was appointed by the Council of the League of Nations to be high commissioner for refugees (Jewish and other) coming from Germany. His mandate was to “negotiate and direct” the “international collaboration” necessary to solve the “economic, financial and social problem” of refugees from Germany. McDonald held this position for more than two years. He resigned in December 1935, having concluded that the “conditions in Germany which create refugees have developed so catastrophically that a reconsideration by the League ...
Transfer of the League of Nations to the United Nations, Ceremony with Sean Lester and Wlodzimierz Moderow
By the end of World War II, 43 countries technically were still members of the League of Nations, but the organization, which had been established after World War I to prevent another great war but had failed in this mission, for all practical purposes had ceased to exist. A new international organization, the United Nations, came into being with the signature, in San Francisco on June 26, 1945, of the Charter of the United Nations. At the initiative of the British Foreign Office, the League held a final Assembly (the ...