The League of Nations' Work on Social Issues

Visions, Endeavours and Experiments

image of The League of Nations' Work on Social Issues
This edited volume offers a fresh look into the history of the League of Nations. It uses the League of Nations' involvement in social issues as a unique prism for understanding the League's development, as well as the development of interwar international relations more generally. Off the beaten path of diplomatic history, this perspective allows the authors to trace less familiar actors and unexpected alliances. It enables contributors to reassess the League's impact on European societies, their colonial possessions, and non-European states. As such, it also marks a paradigm shift in the League's Eurocentric historiography toward one that acknowledges its global reach.



Turf Wars at the league of nations: International anti-cannabis policies and oversight in Syria and Lebanon, 1919-1939

The League of Nations’ social agendas frequently intersected with political issues. Agendas have dynamics of their own, but in promoting them, the League was constrained by other considerations, such as its refusal to combat colonialism. Thisdid not mean that social agendas were treated as subservient to colonial interests; rather, they reflectedthe emerging role of international organisations in policy-making alongside state policies. A case in point is the policies on cannabis in the mandatory French territories of Syria and Lebanon. Following the 1925 International Opium Convention, the League endorsed an anti-cannabis agenda, the enforcement of which placed the French administration under international supervision. Two League bodies were concerned with cannabis: the Opium Advisory Committee and the Permanent Mandates Commission. As Syria and Lebanon were becoming major cannabis producers, the two bodies competed for influence on mandate policy. In the face of French reluctance to prohibit cannabis in the mandate, this led to a hardening of the League’s stance, compared to other sovereign or colonial territories.


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