Article Review: Back to the League of Nations

Published: 2021-07-30
693 words
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Middlebury College
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Article review
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The League of Nations was established formally on 10th January 1920 after World War I ended in 1919 to foster relationships between sovereign states and maintain world peace.The article review titled Back to the League of Nations has a different perspective taking into account historical events in the 70 years since the starts of the Second World War. From a scholarly point of view, Pedersen dissects academic sources and notes that the League of Nations was a subject of interest for many researchers from its time of inception to the 1940s. However, instead of a negative outlook on the Leagues actions (or lack thereof), Pedersen using some books focuses on essential lessons learned from the short-lived organization through history up to the time of writing, taking into account significant events. The primary objective of the review is to highlight critical areas in international organizations which the League helped establish (Pedersen, 2007).

Renewed interest in the League came almost five decades after the establishment of the United Nations (UN) in 1945. The re-examination of the Leagues policies started with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Balkan Wars and the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe. Scholars, researchers, human rights activists and lobbyists began comparing the safeguards of the League versus those of the UN. The author is on the right track when she notes that the League was successful in establishing a new world order by moving from a world of formal empires to formal sovereign states. An example is the establishment of Turkey on October 29, 1923, in what used to be the Ottoman Empire which helped to solve the refugee crisis in that region.

The protection of human rights regardless of individuals was one of the core objectives of the League of Nations. The League of Nations had a Minorities Section to look out for the rights of the under-represented. Common belief back then came to be that "protection of human rights makes minority rights expendable." The Balkan Wars in the 1990s proved this to be a misconception. To counter the United Nations passed the Declaration of Minorities on 18 December 1992 but the damage had already been done in Yugoslavia (Baehr & Gordenker, 2016).Another system established under the League of Nations is the mandate system which "mandated specific countries to inherit and oversee the territories previously held by the losers of World War I." Many scholars steer away from supporting this topic instead of looking to be promoting colonialism.

In 2016 Susan Pederson published Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire, a book covering the Leagues Mandate System where Germanys former overseas territories were given to the various Allied Powers nations such as Germany and France. From the perspective of the present, we may argue that one form of colonialism replacing another is hardly any achievement but this issue is not as straightforward as that (Palen, 2017). Custodianship of former territories of Germany, and Austria-Hungary and the League had few options other than the Mandate System. The alternative could be entirely doing away with colonialism, and this was by unanimous decision voting; something which would not have happened.

The League of Nations failed to prevent World War II. The review makes that clear, but it gave us so many foundations which we should appreciate. The purpose of the report is that. The United Nations' branches and organs are mirrored on the League's own. For example, the League of Nations had the League's Council while the UN has the Security Council and the charters of both are more or less similar except for the fact that the Security Council does not need a unanimous vote (Housden, 2014). Ultimately whether u agree with Pedersen or not, the League of Nations set precedence for global organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU).


Baehr, P. R., & Gordenker, L. (2016). The United Nations in the 1990s. Springer.

Housden, M. (2014). The League of Nations and the Organization of Peace. Routledge.

Palen, M. W. (2017). The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire, by Susan Pedersen. The English Historical Review.

Pedersen, S. (2007). Back to the League of Nations. The American Historical Review, 112(4), 1091-1117.

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