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.



New York critics: The United States, the league of Nations, and the traffic in women

The United States played a central role in the League’s investigation into traffiin women. The Report of the Special Body of Experts on the Traffiin Women and Children projected a vision of the problem and its solution, articulated by Rockefeller himself before the Great War. The Rockefeller grand jury investigation had established methods and concepts that would be taken up as the model for League’s investigation, from the use of undercover investigators to categorisation of traffickinvictims. In this sense, American control over the investigation was even deeper than suggested hitherto. At the same time, the American response was much more divided. In New York, the report’s publication led to a controversy over the identity of a notorious traffickeknown as 18-R. Theso-called “New York critics” of the League’s investigation – journalist John Balderston, federal prosecutor Charles Tuttle and their organisations – destroyed the credibility of the League’s campaign against the traffiin women in the US. Thiscontest led to the expansion of the American role in the League’s pursuit of international regulation of prostitution, but also reflectedrival interests over issues within national borders. Thecase of 18-R reveals the extent to which Geneva became a forum for local projects, whereby individuals and groups used the League not only to further internationalist ambitions but also more provincial or domestic concerns.


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