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  • 1. GV 103 International Relations 2009-10 Week 3: World War One and the League of Nations
  • 2. Lecture Content
    • So today some of the topics I want to consider are:
      • Shape of the international structure leading up to WW1
      • Events that mark the start of the War
      • The Post War settlement
      • Fundamentals of the League of Nations
      • Theoretical Interpretations
  • 3. Why start here?
    • It is really WW1 that shapes the territorial shape of Europe as we know it today.
    • After WW1 international relations emerges as an area of academic study
    • 20th Century sees development of international organisations
  • 4. Concert of Europe
    • Large scale multilateral negotiations - through medium of conferences, method through which interstate co-operation grew. known as the Concert of Europe.
    • Arrangement developed to guarantee the sovereignty of the states of Europe underpinned by the Great powers of the time - France, Russia, Britain, Austro-Hungary and Prussia.
  • 5. Key features
    • The balance of system depended upon fact that no single member was able to outmatch the power of all the other states combined.
    • These powers dominated the continent and therefore made the rules for the conduct of relations in Europe.
    • Negotiated away any disputes between themselves.
    • Where they could not do so then war was of course a possibility.
    • Threats of war grew as the system aged.
    • Threatening war almost became the way of signifying that a state was seriously concerned about an issue.
  • 6. Elements & understandings
    • Great power assumption for guaranteeing the ‘Peace of Europe’.
    • Great powers adopting some particular norms and attitudes:
        • respect for treaties
        • non-interference in internal affairs of other states
        • no unilateral actions on territorial issues (at least in Europe)
        • Participation in all major decisions - unanimity rule basis
    • Equal status for all of the great powers.
  • 7. Hague Peace Conferences
    • 1899 & 1907 Hague Peace Conferences
    • Important most notably:
        • Introduced non-European states (principally South American)
        • All states were treated with formal equality, in contrast to the ‘Great Powers’ of the Concert.
    • Hague Conference also moved beyond military and state diplomatic matters to address issues such as international migration and movement.
  • 8. International Rivalry and Pressures
    • States are industrialising at an extremely rapid rate. Populations and politics are generating huge internal pressures.
    • Colonial competition as the British, French, Austrians, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese compete for territorial control across Africa and the Far East.
    • Some empires are in decay - Austro-Hungaria and the Hapsburgs as is Turkish. Russia becoming less able to control its population and territory.
    • Industrialised economics increasingly important as tool of power. United States and Japan growing at rapid rate.
    • German unification creates a large state at heart of Europe with big large population, rapidly industrialising, colonial desires and ill at ease with its neighbours.
  • 9. Start of World War 1
    • Issuing of demands and ultimatums by various parties
    • Mobilisation by all the large powers.
    • The application of long developed war plans .
    • German invasion of France across Belgium (that brings in the British) and war with Russia in the East.
  • 10. State of Europe 1918
    • In Russia and the Tsar deposed and violent civil war.
    • France is broke. Male population decimated, industrially exhausted and generally humiliated.
    • Britain population and society changed for ever, is bankrupt. Dependent on its empire.
    • US drawn into the war in 1917. Is economically rich and getting richer.
    • Germany’s internal political order is dashed - Kaiser abdicated . Militarily undefeated. Only after signing of Versailles Treaty that defeat is institutionalised.
    • Both Ottoman and Hapsburg Empires have collapsed giving light to demands for self-determination.
  • 11. The League of Nations
    • Driven by Woodrow Wilson
    • Followed from Versailles Treaty
    • An ‘idealist’ construction
    • US non-participation
    • Compromise on internationally agreeable and domestically acceptable in US Congress
  • 12. League of Nations -1
    • Collective security
      • Key feature underpinning whole League
      • Renunciation of use of force
      • Rests on notion that all states will mobilise to defeat ANY state that attacks another.
      • Article 10 League Members..... ‘undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League’
      • A mechanism that is slow to operate, if it can at all, by which time it is to late to reverse aggression
  • 13. League of Nations -2
    • Crisis management
      • in case of conflict a 3 month ‘cooling off period’
    • Disarmament
      • League was forum for disarmament negotiations - naval forces
      • Could not be enforced in worsening political atmosphere of 1930’s
  • 14. League of Nations -3
    • Trusteeship
      • Disposal of German colonial territories to be administered on behalf of the League
        • Britain: Iraq, Palestine, Trans-Jordan, Tanganyika
        • France: Lebanon and Syria
        • Britain and France joint control of Cameroons and Togoland
        • Belgium: Rwanda/Burundi
        • S. Africa: Namibia
  • 15. League of Nations - 4
    • Justiciable Disputes
      • Covenant required members to peacefully settle disputes either by arbitration or judgement.
      • Managed by special ad-hoc commissions and bodies created by the Council.
      • A Permanent Court of International Justice was also created. The Court was designed to deal with any disputes referred to it by conflicting parties or the Council for advisory opinions.
    • Social and Economic issues
      • Article 23 accepts that problems with trafficking of people and narcotics should be addressed by the international community - through the League.
      • ‘ specialist technical agencies’ included International Labour Organisation, Communications and Transit Organisation, Economic and Financial Organisation and International Health Organisation
  • 16. Theoretical Interpretations
    • IR emerged as area of study around WW1
    • Reflected views and opinions of time
    • Explanations for WW1 revolved around belief that leaders of autocratic states of the time, unfettered by restraining forces, (Russia, Germany, Austria) bore responsibility for war because they made short-sighted and egotistically informed decisions that forced war.
    • Leaders from triumphant liberal states pushed for creation of democratic states, believing these were less prone to war.
    • Creation of international institution would better regulate interstate relations, making them more transparent. An international authority might more effectively promote peaceful relations between than states could.
    • The time of ‘utopian liberalism’.