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.




The League of Nations was born out of the Great War. It was the belief of the national representatives who convened in Versailles in 1919 that the trauma of war required a new model for international relations and alternative mechanisms for international arbitration and negotiation. Promoting international cooperation and achieving international peace were central to the Covenant of the League of Nations. Indeed, upon the League’s foundation, diplomatic work and collective security initiatives were perceived as its raisons d’être. Conversely, social and humanitarian issues were considered marginal vis-à-vis the League’s “larger” political goals. Of the Covenant’s 26 articles, only Article 23 dealt explicitly with the former.


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