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League of Nations recognizes perpetual Swiss neutrality

League of Nations recognizes perpetual Swiss neutrality

The League of Nations, the international organization formed at the peace conference at Versailles in the wake of World War I, recognizes the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland on February 13, 1920.

Switzerland was a loose confederation of German-, French-, and Italian-speaking communities until 1798, when the French, under Napoleon Bonaparte, conquered and unified the country as the Helvetic Republic and imposed a constitution, which was enforced by French occupation troops. Bitterly resented by the Swiss people, the French occupation ended in 1803, when Napoleon agreed to a new Swiss-approved constitution and withdrew his troops. The Congress of Vienna in 1815, which would determine Europe’s borders until the outbreak of World War I nearly a century later, recognized the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.

The Swiss considered preserving this neutrality essential to Switzerland’s economic and political development. A new constitution, adopted in 1848, reinforced the neutrality principle by outlawing Swiss service in foreign armies or the acceptance of pensions from foreign governments. Neither the unification of Italy in 1861 nor the birth of the German empire in 1871 shook the loyalty of the nation’s Italian or German population to Switzerland. With industrialization, fueled largely by hydroelectric power, and the construction of an efficient railroad network, Switzerland’s economy continued to grow, spawning a thriving tourism industry by the end of the 19th century.

Though Switzerland maintained its neutrality during World War I, with German, French and Italian Swiss standing firm to preserve their country’s solidarity, a costly military mobilization to protect the Swiss borders diverted most of the working population to war-related work and brought economic hardship. After the war ended, membership in the League of Nations—the international organization established at the Versailles peace conference—was narrowly approved by Swiss voters after a federal council opposed it. In February 1920, the League voted to recognize the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland. The League also established its headquarters in the Swiss city of Geneva, a tribute to the country’s neutrality as well as its relative economic and political stability, which has continued to the present day.

League of Nations recognizes perpetual Swiss neutrality - HISTORY

1910-1913: Few natural resources, a landscape unsuited to large farms, and a central position on trade routes encouraged the Swiss to develop manufacturing and services early, and to revere open markets. The federal constitution emphasizes independence and autonomy. The central government oversees foreign affairs, defense, trade, and monetary policy, while individual cantons maintain control in other areas.

1914-1920: As World War I envelops Europe, Switzerland maintains armed neutrality, a hallmark of the country for centuries. Many sectors of the economy suffer, but some thrive, including machine manufacturing, watch-making, textiles, and food processing. At war's end, Swiss neutrality is recognized by both the Treaty of Versailles and the new League of Nations, which Switzerland joins after a public vote.

1921-1945: As a member of the League of Nations, Switzerland won't take part in military operations, but it does participate in economic sanctions imposed upon other states. When the League dissolves in the '30s, the Swiss return to absolute neutrality and prepare for the possibility of war. The nation declares neutrality when World War II begins, but Swiss citizens must take part in a mandatory militia system.

1946-1958: After the war, Switzerland enters a quarter century of economic growth. The Swiss formula hinges on high-quality, often high-priced products that require a skilled workforce. The small domestic market makes access to foreign markets crucial and strengthens dedication to liberal trade policies. An exception is agriculture, which is fiercely protected from foreign competition.

1959-1972: Switzerland's unique system of government, headed by a seven-member Federal Council, undergoes one of the few changes in the country's history. The two houses of parliament devise a "magic formula" for choosing councilors, assuring that major political parties and German, French, and Italian linguistic groups will share power. Councilors govern by consensus and rotate the presidency annually.

1973-1979: Slow population growth and a surplus of jobs have long attracted economic immigrants. But when recession hits in the '70s, some Swiss call for the departure of foreign workers. The nation loses 400,000 jobs between 1973 and 1976. Switzerland and the European Community agree to the gradual introduction of free trade in manufactured goods, giving Switzerland access to a market of 325 million people.

1980-1989: Strong growth resumes, and the Swiss economy is the envy of Western Europe as per capita income consistently ranks among the highest in industrialized nations by 2000 it will top $28,000. But the economy shows early signs of change. Jobs in farms, construction, and engineering decline, while the service sector grows. In 1986 voters overwhelmingly reject entry into the United Nations.

1990-1992: The nation enters a recession caused in part by a strong Swiss franc and overall slow growth in Europe. Tourism and exports suffer. In 1992 the nation joins the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But Swiss voters, dubious of the benefits of closer economic ties to their neighbors, reject joining the European Economic Area, a free-trade zone seen as a possible precursor to EU membership.

1993-1996: The recession continues, and the Swiss economy is Western Europe's weakest. Growth is almost flat and unemployment tops 5 percent -- high for Switzerland. Budget deficits climb. Companies begin restructuring to improve competitiveness. The federal government begins to negotiate bilateral agreements with the EU and slowly moves toward changes in the heavily regulated agriculture sector.

1997-1999: As the European economy speeds up and the Swiss franc weakens, the nation emerges from recession with annual growth rates of 1 to 2 percent. Unemployment drops below 3 percent by 1999. The government reduces its role in setting agricultural prices, but continues a high level of support for production through import barriers and direct payments to farmers.

2000: GDP growth is 3.4 percent, the highest in 10 years. Unemployment drops below 2 percent, and immigrants make up about 20 percent of the population. Voters reject a proposal to cap the foreign population, but many fear an influx from poorer countries. Still opposed to joining the European Union, the electorate nevertheless backs the government's bilateral agreements with the EU.

2001-2003: The weakening global outlook is expected to hold GDP growth to under 2 percent. The government aims for EU membership in the long run, as voters in March 2001 reject the idea of moving quickly toward membership. After terrorist attacks in the United States, Swissair goes bankrupt and is relaunched as Swiss. Voters agree in 2002 to decriminalize abortion and, narrowly, to join the United Nations.

League of Nations recognizes perpetual Swiss neutrality - HISTORY

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1895--The Lumiere Brothers are granted a patent in France for their machine “to film and view chronophotographic proofs”. one of the earliest film projectors.

1914--The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) forms in New York City.

1920--The League of Nations recognizes the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.

1942--Peter Tork (Peter Halsten Thorkelson), of the pop group The Monkees, is born in Washington, D.C.

1962--The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club -- a lunchtime show.

1962--Brian Epstein and George Martin meet for the first time, to discuss the possibilities of Parlophone offering The Beatles a recording contract. Brian Epstein plays some 78 rpm records, made from The Beatles' Decca audition tapes, for Martin, who expresses some interest. Still, it would be nearly three months before Martin re-establishes contact with Epstein.

1963--The Beatles perform at the Majestic Ballroom in Hull.

1964--The Beatles fly from New York to Miami Beach, Florida, for their second live appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," to be broadcast from the Deauville Hotel.

1967--US release of The Beatles' single Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane (Capitol). 10 weeks on Billboard chart highest position #1.

1967--The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). The Beatles record Only A Northern Song, but the song would not be completed until April 20 and would not be released until its appearance on the Yellow Submarine LP in 1969. George Harrison, not having a name for the song (again), used "Not Known" as the working title. The Beatles record nine takes of the basic rhythm track. The session begins at 7:00 p.m. and runs until 3:30 a.m.

1975--John Lennon appears as an uninvited, but very welcome, guest DJ for three hours on Scott Muni’s WNEW-FM radio show in New York. He brings with him his new Rock 'n' Roll album and discusses the reasons why he chose to record each track.

1984--Capitol Records celebrates the 20th anniversary of The Beatles’ first US visit by reissuing I Want To Hold Your Hand, complete with a reprint of its original black and white picture sleeve. To promote the release, Capitol mounts a massive advertising campaign, which includes 40,000 posters and 2,500 t-shirts and pinback buttons. To coincide with the 20th anniversary celebrations, Life magazine features The Beatles on its cover (just as it did in 1964), as does Rolling Stone.

1993--Paul McCartney and his band appear on “Saturday Night Live.”

1994--In the UK newspaper, Mail On Sunday, an article appears which carries the headline: “The Beatles Get Back.” It announces that: “The Beatles are getting back together for a one-off concert that will be the biggest rock event ever staged. The three surviving Beatles are set to play alongside John Lennon’s sons to a live audience of more than a million people. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr will each earn £20 million for appearing on stage on the great lawn at Central Park in New York later this year.” Of course, this never happened.

1995--UK release of The Beatles' single Baby It's You / I'll Follow the Sun / Devil in Her Heart / Boys (Parlophone / Apple). Highest UK chart position is #7.

History in Switzerland

Despite its neutral image, Switzerland has a fascinating history of external and internal conflicts. Its strategic location made it an irresistible object to empires since Roman times. There’s even evidence that prehistoric tribes struggled to hold tiny settlements along the great Rhône and Rhine rivers.

The first identifiable occupants were the Celts, who entered the alpine regions from the west. The Helvetii, a Celtic tribe, inhabited a portion of the country that became known as Helvetia. That tribe was defeated by Julius Caesar when it tried to move into southern France in 58 B.C. The Romans conquered the resident tribes in 15 B.C., and peaceful colonization continued until A.D. 455 when the barbarians invaded, followed later by the Christians. Charlemagne (742–814) conquered the small states, or cantons, that occupied the area now known as Switzerland and incorporated them into his realm, which later became the Holy Roman Empire. In later years, Switzerland became a battleground for some of the major ruling families of Europe, especially the Houses of Savoy, the Austrian Habsburgs, and the Zähringen.

A Nation of Four Languages

About 65 percent of Swiss residents speak German, but if you think you’ll be able to understand them because you took a few semesters of the language in college, think again. Even native speakers from Germany and Austria need subtitles to understand the throaty Swiss-German language, aka Schwyzerdütsch. And it gets worse: Swiss-German dialects vary from canton to canton, so even if you understand people in Zurich, you might encounter difficulties in Basel. Thankfully, most German-speaking Swiss are also fluent in the “standard” form of the language, Hochdeutsch, as well as a fair amount of English.

Twenty-two percent of the population speaks Swiss French, which only differs from normal French in terms of a few minor vocab changes (the word for “breakfast” in Switzerland means “lunch” in France, for example). It’s a similar situation with the 9 percent of Swiss who speak Italian, most of whom live in the southern Ticino region.

A tiny minority of Swiss—about 60,000 inhabitants of the southeastern Engadine and Surselva valleys—speak Romansh, a “vulgar Latin” dialect that has its origins in the Roman takeover of Rhaetia (the modern-day Grisons). In an effort to keep the fading language alive, schools in those valleys teach young children exclusively in Romansh, adding in German as they get older. But beyond a stray “Allegra” or “bun di” (both forms of “hello”), visitors are unlikely to hear much of it.

Birth of the Confederation

The Swiss have always guarded their territory jealously. In 1291, an association of three cantons formed the Perpetual Alliance—the nucleus of today’s Swiss Confederation. To rid itself of the grasping Habsburgs, the Confederation broke free of the Holy Roman Empire in 1439. It later signed a treaty with France, a rival power, agreeing to provide the French with mercenary troops. This led to Swiss fighting Swiss in the early 16th century. The agreement was ended around 1515, and in 1516, the confederates declared their complete neutrality.

The Reformation

The Protestant Reformation created bitter conflicts in Switzerland between the cantons defending papal Catholicism and those embracing the new creed of Protestantism. Ulrich Zwingli, who like Martin Luther had converted from the Catholic faith, led the Swiss Reformation beginning in 1519. He translated the Bible into Swiss German and reorganized church rituals. The Protestant movement was spurred by the 1536 arrival in Geneva of John Calvin, who was fleeing Catholic reprisals in France. Geneva became one of the most rigidly puritanical strongholds of Protestantism in Europe, fervently committed to its self-perceived role as the New Jerusalem. The spread of Calvinism led to the coining of the French term “Huguenot,” a corruption of the Swiss word Eidgenosse (confederate).

After Zwingli died in a religiously motivated battle in 1531, the Swiss spirit of pragmatism and compromise came into play and a peace treaty was signed, allowing each region the right to practice its own faith. Today, 38 percent of the Swiss define themselves as Roman Catholic, while 27 percent identify as Protestant. (Twenty-one percent, meanwhile, are self-professed nonbelievers.)

Industrialization & Political Crises

By the 18th century, Switzerland had become the most industrialized nation in Europe. But rapid population growth widened the division between the new wealthy upper class and the rest of the population, creating social strife. Uprisings occurred, but it was only after the French Revolution that they had an effect, causing the Swiss Confederation to collapse in 1798.

Under French guardianship, progressives attempted to centralize the constitution of the Swiss Republic, a move that clashed with the federalist traditions of the semi-independent cantons. In 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte established a confederation with 19 cantons, but when he fell from power, Swiss conservatives revived the old order, and much of the social progress resulting from the Napoleonic period was reversed.

Current Swiss boundaries were fixed at the Congress of Vienna in 1814, and in 1848, all cantons were united under a federal constitution, which established the concept of Swiss nationhood for the first time. Bern was named the new capital, and neutrality was enshrined into national law.

With its identity issues resolved, Switzerland’s economy grew by leaps and bounds. The construction of a railway network and the establishment of a federal banking system led to a booming export industry, chiefly of textiles, pharmaceuticals, and machinery. And the first English tourists began vacationing in the Alps, to take in the restorative air and indulge in a fashionable new pastime that involved sliding downhill on wooden planks.

Neutrality through Two World Wars

Switzerland maintained its state of armed neutrality throughout World War I (1914–18), drawing in intellectual exiles like Lenin, who attempted to foment revolution in Zurich and Bern before returning to his native Russia in 1917. Dadaism was born around this time, fuelled by the German and French expat artists who coalesced around Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire. But while creativity and thought thrived, civil unrest grew. One cause of bitterness was that Swiss men conscripted into the army automatically lost their jobs. In 1918, workers, dissatisfied with their conditions, called a general strike, the first and only one in Switzerland’s history. The strike led to the introduction of proportional representation in elections. In the 1920s, a 48-hour workweek was introduced and unemployment insurance was improved.

In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations and provided space for the organization’s headquarters at Geneva. As a neutral member, however, it exempted itself from any military action that the League might take.

In August 1939, on the eve of World War II (1939–45), Switzerland, fearing an invasion, ordered a mobilization of its defense forces. But an invasion never came. It proved convenient to all the belligerents to have a neutral nation in the middle of a continent in conflict. And so the country became an important base for espionage and communications during the war, while making a pretty penny off both the Nazis, who sold Switzerland 1.3 billion francs' worth of gold, and the Jews who’d stashed their assets in Swiss banks prior to the Holocaust.

Emerging from the war unscathed, Switzerland spent the ensuing years in a blissful honeymoon of unprecedented financial and industrial growth. Many social-welfare programs were introduced, unemployment was virtually wiped out, and the country moved into an enviable position of wealth and prosperity.

Neutral but Armed

“Aggressively neutral” sounds like a contradiction, but that’s Switzerland’s policy in a nutshell: Since the Swiss Armed Forces were established in 1848, the country has been prepared to send its army into action at a moment’s notice. Today, all able-bodied men over age 18 must serve at least 260 days in the armed forces, including 18 weeks of boot camp. Women aren’t obligated to serve, but can volunteer.

Each conscript is given a gun, which they’re allowed to keep at home after their training. With approximately one firearm for every four people, Switzerland’s gun ownership rate is among the highest in western Europe (though still far lower than that of the United States), but its rate of gun-related crime is relatively low. Still, at time of writing, the country had just voted to accept stricter gun controls in line with E.U. regulations—much to the dismay of its far-right Swiss People’s Party, which had campaigned passionately against “disarming Swiss households.”

Into the Future

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that Switzerland had to reckon with its wartime dealings. At the end of 1996, following U.S. investigations, the country acknowledged for the first time that it had made a profit from gold trading with the Nazi regime. In July 1997, teams from three major U.S. accounting firms moved into 10 Swiss banks to begin an independent inquiry into funds that may have belonged to Holocaust victims a year later, three Swiss banks agreed to pay $1.25 billion to Holocaust survivors, hoping to settle the claims of thousands whose families lost assets in World War II.

Switzerland’s entry into the European Union was shot down in 1992 by a slim majority of 50.3 percent of voters, but in 2000 the country approved new agreements that linked it more closely with the E.U. And in 2002, by a slender margin, neutral Switzerland agreed in a countrywide vote to leave behind decades of isolationism and become the 190th member of the United Nations.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Today in Switzerland History

Events 1 - 100 of 106

1291-08-01 - Everlasting League forms, basis of Swiss Confederation (Independence)
1294-06-30 - Jews are expelled from Berne, Switzerland
1315-11-15 - Battle of Morgarten: Swiss beat duke Leopold I of Austria
1315-12-09 - Swiss Woudsteden renews Eternal Covenant (Oath Society)
1348-09-21 - Jews in Zurich Switzerland are accused of poisoning wells
1349-01-09 - 700 Jews of Basel Switzerland, burned alive in their houses
1349-02-13 - Jews are expelled from Burgsordf, Switzerland
1349-02-22 - Jews are expelled from Zurich, Switzerland
1356-10-18 - Basel earthquake, the most significant historic seismological event north of the Alps, destroyed the town of Basel, Switzerland.
1386-07-09 - Battle at Sempach: Swiss beat duke Leopold III of Austria
1388-04-09 - Battle of Näfels Glarius Swiss defeat Habsburg (Austrian) army
1422-06-30 - Battle of Arbedo between the Duke of Milan and the Swiss cantons.
1427-05-10 - Jews are expelled from Berne Switzerland
1474-03-30 - Duke Sigismund van Tirol ends contacts with Switzerland
1476-06-22 - Battle at Morat/Murten: Charles the Stout invades Switzerland
1499-09-22 - Switzerland became an independent state.
1506-01-22 - The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrive at the Vatican.
The Warrior Pope Julius II 1511-10-05 - Pope Julius II/Germany/Ferdinand of Aragon/Venice/Swiss
1516-11-29 - Treaty of Freiburg: French/Swiss "eternal" peace treaty
1525-01-21 - The Swiss Anabaptist Movement is born when Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock, and about a dozen others baptize each other in the home of Manz's mother in Zürich, breaking a thousand-year tradition of church-state union.
1525-02-20 - Swiss & German mercenaries desert Francois I's army
1531-10-11 - Battle at Kappel: Swiss Roman Catholic kantons beat protestant forces of Zurich
1531-10-11 - Huldrych Zwingli Swiss reformation leader is killed at the Battle at Kappel
1544-04-14 - Battle at Carignano: French troops under Earl d'Enghien beat Swiss
1558-01-09 - Geneva becomes independent from Berne canton, Switzerland
1584-01-22 - Parts of Switzerland adopt Gregorian calendar (& parts in 1812)
1618-09-04 - "Rodi" avalanche destroys Plurs, Switzerland, 1,500 killed
1709-09-03 - 1st major group of Swiss/German colonists reaches NC/SC
1798-03-29 - Republic of Switzerland forms
French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte 1803-05-18 - Britain declares war on France after Napoleon Bonaparte continues interfering in Italy & Switzerland
1809-05-05 - Citizenship is denied to Jews of Canton of Aargau Switzerland
1815-02-03 - World's first commercial cheese factory established, in Switzerland
1823-07-14 - Switzerland signs boundaries for fugitives
1845-11-29 - The Sonderbund is defeated by the joint forces of other Swiss cantons under General Guillaume-Henri Dufour.
1848-02-29 - Neufchatel declares independence of Switzerland
1848-09-12 - Switzerland becomes a Federal state.
1862-05-14 - Adolphe Nicole of Switzerland patents chronograph
1871-09-17 - Mont Cenis railway tunnel Switzerland opens
1874-05-29 - Present constitution of Switzerland takes effect
1874-10-09 - World Postal Union forms in Bern Switzerland
1880-02-29 - Gotthard railway tunnel between Switzerland & Italy completed
1882-05-20 - St Gotthard rail tunnel between Switzerland & Italy opens
1893-08-20 - Shechita (ritual slaughtering) prohibited in Switzerland
1903-09-09 - 6 km long Engadin-railroad tunnel of Switzerland inaugurated
1905-02-24 - Simplon tunnel in Switzerland completed
1906-05-10 - Italian King Victor Emmanuel & Swiss president Ludwig Forrer open Simplon tunnel
1906-05-17 - Switzerland's Simplon Tunnel open to rail traffic
1911-03-30 - Lötschberg tunnel in Switzerland (13,735 m) completed
1915-09-05 - Anti-war conference in Zimmerwald, Switzerland
1916-02-03 - Tristan Tzara publishes the Dada manifesto in Zurich Switzerland
Marxist Revolutionary and Russian Leader Vladimir Lenin 1917-04-03 - Lenin arrives in Petrograd from Switzerland [NS=April 16]
1919-02-03 - Socialist conference convenes (Berne Switzerland)
1920-02-08 - Swiss men vote against women's suffrage
1920-02-13 - League of Nations recognizes perpetual neutrality of Switzerland
1920-02-13 - Switzerland rejoins the League of Nations
1922-01-21 - 1st slalom ski race run, Murren, Switzerland
1923-10-16 - John Harwood patents self-winding watch (Switzerland)
1927-02-08 - Belgian-Swiss treaty signed
1927-04-15 - Switzerland & USSR agree to diplomatic relations
1928-02-11 - 2nd Winter Olympic games opens in St Moritz, Switzerland
1928-02-19 - 2nd Winter Olympic games close at St Moritz, Switzerland
1932-11-09 - Riots between conservative and socialist supporters in Switzerland kill 12 and injure 60.
1935-07-20 - Switzerland: A Royal Dutch Airlines plane en route from Milan to Frankfurt crashes into a Swiss mountain, killing thirteen.
1938-11-16 - LSD is first synthesized by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.
1939-09-01 - Switzerland proclaims neutrality
1939-09-01 - Switzerland mobilizes its forces and the Swiss Parliament elects Henri Guisan to head the Swiss Army (an event that can happen only during war or mobilization).
1940-08-14 - Dutch Premier De Geer vacations in Switzerland
1941-05-13 - Willy Lewis' US jazz band performs in Switzerland
1943-04-19 - Bicycle Day - Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann deliberately takes LSD for the first time.
1945-04-28 - US 5th army reaches Swiss border
1948-01-30 - 5th Winter Olympic games open in St Moritz, Switzerland
1948-02-08 - 5th Winter Olympic games close at St Moritz, Switzerland
1950-06-23 - Swiss parliament refuses voting right for women
1951-09-20 - Swiss males votes against female suffrage
1954-06-15 - UEFA (Union des Associations Européennes de Football) is formed in Basle, Switzerland.
1955-09-11 - Dedication of the first Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe, the Bern Switzerland Temple.
1959-02-01 - Swiss men vote against voting rights for women
1962-04-05 - St Bernard Tunnel finished-Swiss/Italians workers shake hands
1963-09-04 - Swissair Flight 306 crashes near Dürrenäsch, Switzerland, killing all 80 people on board.
1965-08-30 - Section of Allalin glacier wipes out construction site at Mattmark Dam near Saas-Fee, Switzerland
1966-06-26 - Kanton Bazel leads female suffrage in Switzerland
1969-02-18 - PLO-attack El-Al plane in Zurich Switzerland
1969-09-14 - Male voters of Swiss kanton Schaffhausen rejects female suffrage
1970-02-24 - 29 Swiss Army officers die in avalanche (Reckingen, Switzerland)
1971-02-07 - Switzerland votes in women's suffrage
1971-10-11 - Switzerland recognizes North Vietnam
Comedian/Actor/Filmaker Charlie Chaplin 1978-03-01 - Charlie Chaplin's coffin and remains are stolen from a Swiss cemetery
1979-01-01 - Jura, 26th canton of Switzerland, established
1980-09-05 - World's longest road tunnel, St Gotthard in Swiss Alps, opens
1982-09-06 - Polish dissidents seize Polish Embassy in Bern, Switzerland
1982-10-03 - Cox 4 rowing record set at 12:52 for 99 miles (Geneva, Switzerland)
1988-03-10 - Avalanche at Swiss Ski resort Klosters nearly kills Prince Charles
1991-03-03 - Switzerland votes on lowering voting age from 20 to 18
1992-12-06 - 81st Davis Cup: USA beats Switzerland in Fort Worth (3-1)
1994-06-18 - US ties Switzerland 1-1 in their 1st game of 1994 soccer World Cup
1994-09-26 - Switzerland bans racist propaganda
1997-02-05 - 3 Swiss banks create $70 million Holocaust fund
1998-02-25 - Switzerland's 1st legal brothel opens in Zurich
His Royal Highness Prince Charles 1998-09-02 - Swissair Flight 111 crashes near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia. All 229 people on board are killed.
1998-10-29 - While en route from Adana to Ankara, a Turkish Airlines flight with a crew of 6 and 33 passengers is hijacked by a Kurdish militant who orders the pilot to fly to Switzerland. The plane instead lands in Ankara after the pilot tricked the hijacker into thinking that he was landing in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to refuel.

Events 101 - 106 of 106

2002-03-03 - Citizens of Switzerland narrowly vote in favor of their country becoming a member of the United Nations.

2002-09-10 - Switzerland, traditionally a neutral country, joins the United Nations.

2008-09-10 - The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in the history of mankind is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.

2008-09-26 - Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy becomes first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.

2009-10-10 - After having closed borders for about two hundred years, Armenia and Turkey sign protocols in Zurich, Switzerland to open their borders.

2012-03-13 - 28 people, including 22 children, are killed in a motorway bus crash near Sierre, Switzerland


Background Edit

The concept of a peaceful community of nations had been proposed as early as 1795, when Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch [10] outlined the idea of a league of nations to control conflict and promote peace between states. [11] Kant argued for the establishment of a peaceful world community, not in a sense of a global government, but in the hope that each state would declare itself a free state that respects its citizens and welcomes foreign visitors as fellow rational beings, thus promoting peaceful society worldwide. [12] International co-operation to promote collective security originated in the Concert of Europe that developed after the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century in an attempt to maintain the status quo between European states and so avoid war. [13] [14] This period also saw the development of international law, with the first Geneva Conventions establishing laws dealing with humanitarian relief during wartime, and the international Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 governing rules of war and the peaceful settlement of international disputes. [15] [16] As historians William H. Harbaugh and Ronald E. Powaski point out, Theodore Roosevelt was the first American President to call for an international league. [17] [18] At the acceptance for his Nobel Prize, Roosevelt said: "it would be a masterstroke if those great powers honestly bent on peace would form a League of Peace." [19] [20]

The forerunner of the League of Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), was formed by the peace activists William Randal Cremer and Frédéric Passy in 1889 (and is currently still in existence as an international body with a focus on the various elected legislative bodies of the world.) The IPU was founded with an international scope, with a third of the members of parliaments (in the 24 countries that had parliaments) serving as members of the IPU by 1914. Its foundational aims were to encourage governments to solve international disputes by peaceful means. Annual conferences were established to help governments refine the process of international arbitration. Its structure was designed as a council headed by a president, which would later be reflected in the structure of the League. [21]

Initial proposals Edit

At the start of the First World War, the first schemes for an international organisation to prevent future wars began to gain considerable public support, particularly in Great Britain and the United States. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a British political scientist, coined the term "League of Nations" in 1914 and drafted a scheme for its organisation. Together with Lord Bryce, he played a leading role in the founding of the group of internationalist pacifists known as the Bryce Group, later the League of Nations Union. [22] The group became steadily more influential among the public and as a pressure group within the then governing Liberal Party. In Dickinson's 1915 pamphlet After the War he wrote of his "League of Peace" as being essentially an organisation for arbitration and conciliation. He felt that the secret diplomacy of the early twentieth century had brought about war and thus could write that, "the impossibility of war, I believe, would be increased in proportion as the issues of foreign policy should be known to and controlled by public opinion." The ‘Proposals’ of the Bryce Group were circulated widely, both in England and the US, where they had a profound influence on the nascent international movement. [23]

Within two weeks of the start of the war, feminists began to mobilise against the war. [24] Having been barred from participating in prior peace organizations, [25] American women formed a Women's Peace Parade Committee to plan a silent protest to the war. Led by chairwoman Fanny Garrison Villard, women from trade unions, feminist organizations, and social reform organizations, such as Kate Waller Barrett, Mary Ritter Beard, Carrie Chapman Catt, Rose Schneiderman, Lillian Wald, and others, organized 1500 women, who marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on 29 August 1914. [24] As a result of the parade, Jane Addams became interested in proposals by two European suffragists—Hungarian Rosika Schwimmer and British Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence—to hold a peace conference. [26] On 9–10 January 1915, a peace conference directed by Addams was held in Washington, D. C., where the delegates adopted a platform calling for creation of international bodies with administrative and legislative powers to develop a "permanent league of neutral nations" to work for peace and disarmament. [27] [28]

Within months a call was made for an international women's conference to be held in The Hague. Coordinated by Mia Boissevain, Aletta Jacobs and Rosa Manus, the Congress, which opened on 28 April 1915 [29] was attended by 1,136 participants from both neutral and non-belligerent nations, [30] and resulted in the establishment of an organization which would become the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). [31] At the close of the conference, two delegations of women were dispatched to meet European heads of state over the next several months. They secured agreement from reluctant Foreign Ministers, who overall felt that such a body would be ineffective, but agreed to participate or not impede creation of a neutral mediating body, if other nations agreed and if President Woodrow Wilson would initiate a body. In the midst of the War, Wilson refused. [32] [33]

In 1915, a similar body to the Bryce group proposals was set up in the United States by a group of like-minded individuals, including William Howard Taft. It was called the League to Enforce Peace and was substantially based on the proposals of the Bryce Group. [35] It advocated the use of arbitration in conflict resolution and the imposition of sanctions on aggressive countries. None of these early organisations envisioned a continuously functioning body with the exception of the Fabian Society in England, they maintained a legalistic approach that would limit the international body to a court of justice. The Fabians were the first to argue for a "Council" of states, necessarily the Great Powers, who would adjudicate world affairs, and for the creation of a permanent secretariat to enhance international co-operation across a range of activities. [36]

In the course of the diplomatic efforts surrounding World War I, both sides had to clarify their long-term war aims. By 1916 in Britain, the leader of the Allies, and in the neutral United States, long-range thinkers had begun to design a unified international organisation to prevent future wars. Historian Peter Yearwood argues that when the new coalition government of David Lloyd George took power in December 1916, there was widespread discussion among intellectuals and diplomats of the desirability of establishing such an organisation. When Lloyd George was challenged by Wilson to state his position with an eye on the postwar situation, he endorsed such an organisation. Wilson himself included in his Fourteen Points in January 1918 a "league of nations to ensure peace and justice." British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, argued that, as a condition of durable peace, "behind international law, and behind all treaty arrangements for preventing or limiting hostilities, some form of international sanction should be devised which would give pause to the hardiest aggressor." [37]

The war had had a profound impact, affecting the social, political and economic systems of Europe and inflicting psychological and physical damage. [38] Several empires collapsed: first the Russian Empire in February 1917, followed by the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empire. Anti-war sentiment rose across the world the First World War was described as "the war to end all wars", [39] and its possible causes were vigorously investigated. The causes identified included arms races, alliances, militaristic nationalism, secret diplomacy, and the freedom of sovereign states to enter into war for their own benefit. One proposed remedy was the creation of an international organisation whose aim was to prevent future war through disarmament, open diplomacy, international co-operation, restrictions on the right to wage war, and penalties that made war unattractive. [40]

In London Balfour commissioned the first official report into the matter in early 1918, under the initiative of Lord Robert Cecil. The British committee was finally appointed in February 1918. It was led by Walter Phillimore (and became known as the Phillimore Committee), but also included Eyre Crowe, William Tyrrell, and Cecil Hurst. [22] The recommendations of the so-called Phillimore Commission included the establishment of a "Conference of Allied States" that would arbitrate disputes and impose sanctions on offending states. The proposals were approved by the British government, and much of the commission's results were later incorporated into the Covenant of the League of Nations. [41]

The French also drafted a much more far-reaching proposal in June 1918 they advocated annual meetings of a council to settle all disputes, as well as an "international army" to enforce its decisions. [41]

American President Woodrow Wilson instructed Edward M. House to draft a US plan which reflected Wilson's own idealistic views (first articulated in the Fourteen Points of January 1918), as well as the work of the Phillimore Commission. The outcome of House's work and Wilson's own first draft proposed the termination of "unethical" state behaviour, including forms of espionage and dishonesty. Methods of compulsion against recalcitrant states would include severe measures, such as "blockading and closing the frontiers of that power to commerce or intercourse with any part of the world and to use any force that may be necessary. " [41]

The two principal drafters and architects of the covenant of the League of Nations [43] were the British politician Lord Robert Cecil and the South African statesman Jan Smuts. Smuts' proposals included the creation of a Council of the great powers as permanent members and a non-permanent selection of the minor states. He also proposed the creation of a Mandate system for captured colonies of the Central Powers during the war. Cecil focused on the administrative side and proposed annual Council meetings and quadrennial meetings for the Assembly of all members. He also argued for a large and permanent secretariat to carry out the League's administrative duties. [41] [44] [45]

The League of Nations was relatively more universal and inclusive in its membership and structure than previous international organisations, but the organisation enshrined racial hierarchy by curtailing the right to self-determination and prevented decolonization. [46]

Establishment Edit

At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Wilson, Cecil and Smuts all put forward their draft proposals. After lengthy negotiations between the delegates, the Hurst–Miller draft was finally produced as a basis for the Covenant. [47] After more negotiation and compromise, the delegates finally approved of the proposal to create the League of Nations (French: Société des Nations, German: Völkerbund) on 25 January 1919. [48] The final Covenant of the League of Nations was drafted by a special commission, and the League was established by Part I of the Treaty of Versailles. On 28 June 1919, [49] [50] 44 states signed the Covenant, including 31 states which had taken part in the war on the side of the Triple Entente or joined it during the conflict. [ citation needed ]

French women's rights advocates invited international feminists to participate in a parallel conference to the Paris Conference in hopes that they could gain permission to participate in the official conference. [51] The Inter-Allied Women's Conference asked to be allowed to submit suggestions to the peace negotiations and commissions and were granted the right to sit on commissions dealing specifically with women and children. [52] [53] Though they asked for enfranchisement and full legal protection under the law equal with men, [51] those rights were ignored. [54] Women won the right to serve in all capacities, including as staff or delegates in the League of Nations organization. [55] They also won a declaration that member nations should prevent trafficking of women and children and should equally support humane conditions for children, women and men labourers. [56] At the Zürich Peace Conference held between 17 and 19 May 1919, the women of the WILPF condemned the terms of the Treaty of Versailles for both its punitive measures, as well as its failure to provide for condemnation of violence and exclusion of women from civil and political participation. [54] Upon reading the Rules of Procedure for the League of Nations, Catherine Marshall, a British suffragist, discovered that the guidelines were completely undemocratic and they were modified based on her suggestion. [57]

The League would be made up of a General Assembly (representing all member states), an Executive Council (with membership limited to major powers), and a permanent secretariat. Member states were expected to "respect and preserve as against external aggression" the territorial integrity of other members and to disarm "to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety." All states were required to submit complaints for arbitration or judicial inquiry before going to war. [22] The Executive Council would create a Permanent Court of International Justice to make judgements on the disputes.

Despite Wilson's efforts to establish and promote the League, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1919, [58] the United States never joined. Senate Republicans led by Henry Cabot Lodge wanted a League with the reservation that only Congress could take the U.S. into war. Lodge gained a majority of Senators and Wilson refused to allow a compromise. The Senate voted on the ratification on March 19, 1920, and the 49-35 vote fell short of the needed 2/3 majority. [59]

The League held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920, six days after the Versailles Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations came into force. [60] On 1 November 1920, the headquarters of the League was moved from London to Geneva, where the first General Assembly was held on 15 November 1920. [61] [62] The Palais Wilson on Geneva's western lakeshore, named after US President Woodrow Wilson in recognition of his efforts towards the establishment of the League, was the League's first permanent home.

The official languages of the League of Nations were French and English. [63]

In 1939, a semi-official emblem for the League of Nations emerged: two five-pointed stars within a blue pentagon. They symbolised the Earth's five continents and "five races." A bow at the top displayed the English name ("League of Nations"), while another at the bottom showed the French ("Société des Nations"). [64]

The main constitutional organs of the League were the Assembly, the council, and the Permanent Secretariat. It also had two essential wings: the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Labour Organization. In addition, there were several auxiliary agencies and commissions. [66] Each organ's budget was allocated by the Assembly (the League was supported financially by its member states). [67]

The relations between the Assembly and the Council and the competencies of each were for the most part not explicitly defined. Each body could deal with any matter within the sphere of competence of the League or affecting peace in the world. Particular questions or tasks might be referred to either. [68]

Unanimity was required for the decisions of both the Assembly and the Council, except in matters of procedure and some other specific cases such as the admission of new members. This requirement was a reflection of the League's belief in the sovereignty of its component nations the League sought a solution by consent, not by dictation. In case of a dispute, the consent of the parties to the dispute was not required for unanimity. [69]

The Permanent Secretariat, established at the seat of the League at Geneva, comprised a body of experts in various spheres under the direction of the general secretary. [70] Its principal sections were Political, Financial and Economics, Transit, Minorities and Administration (administering the Saar and Danzig), Mandates, Disarmament, Health, Social (Opium and Traffic in Women and Children), Intellectual Cooperation and International Bureaux, Legal, and Information. The staff of the Secretariat was responsible for preparing the agenda for the Council and the Assembly and publishing reports of the meetings and other routine matters, effectively acting as the League's civil service. In 1931 the staff numbered 707. [71]

The Assembly consisted of representatives of all members of the League, with each state allowed up to three representatives and one vote. [72] It met in Geneva and, after its initial sessions in 1920, [73] it convened once a year in September. [72] The special functions of the Assembly included the admission of new members, the periodical election of non-permanent members to the Council, the election with the Council of the judges of the Permanent Court, and control of the budget. In practice, the Assembly was the general directing force of League activities. [74]

The League Council acted as a type of executive body directing the Assembly's business. [75] It began with four permanent members – Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan – and four non-permanent members that were elected by the Assembly for a three-year term. [76] The first non-permanent members were Belgium, Brazil, Greece, and Spain. [77]

The composition of the Council was changed several times. The number of non-permanent members was first increased to six on 22 September 1922 and to nine on 8 September 1926. Werner Dankwort of Germany pushed for his country to join the League joining in 1926, Germany became the fifth permanent member of the Council. Later, after Germany and Japan both left the League, the number of non-permanent seats was increased from nine to eleven, and the Soviet Union was made a permanent member giving the Council a total of fifteen members. [77] The Council met, on average, five times a year and in extraordinary sessions when required. In total, 107 sessions were held between 1920 and 1939. [78]

Other bodies Edit

The League oversaw the Permanent Court of International Justice and several other agencies and commissions created to deal with pressing international problems. These included the Disarmament Commission, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Mandates Commission, the International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation [79] (precursor to UNESCO), the Permanent Central Opium Board, the Commission for Refugees, and the Slavery Commission. [80] Three of these institutions were transferred to the United Nations after the Second World War: the International Labour Organization, the Permanent Court of International Justice (as the International Court of Justice), and the Health Organisation [81] (restructured as the World Health Organization). [82]

The Permanent Court of International Justice was provided for by the Covenant, but not established by it. The Council and the Assembly established its constitution. Its judges were elected by the Council and the Assembly, and its budget was provided by the latter. The Court was to hear and decide any international dispute which the parties concerned submitted to it. It might also give an advisory opinion on any dispute or question referred to it by the Council or the Assembly. The Court was open to all the nations of the world under certain broad conditions. [83]

The International Labour Organization was created in 1919 on the basis of Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles. [84] The ILO, although having the same members as the League and being subject to the budget control of the Assembly, was an autonomous organisation with its own Governing Body, its own General Conference and its own Secretariat. Its constitution differed from that of the League: representation had been accorded not only to governments but also to representatives of employers' and workers' organisations. Albert Thomas was its first director. [85]

The ILO successfully restricted the addition of lead to paint, [86] and convinced several countries to adopt an eight-hour work day and forty-eight-hour working week. It also campaigned to end child labour, increase the rights of women in the workplace, and make shipowners liable for accidents involving seamen. [84] After the demise of the League, the ILO became an agency of the United Nations in 1946. [87]

The League's health organisation had three bodies: the Health Bureau, containing permanent officials of the League the General Advisory Council or Conference, an executive section consisting of medical experts and the Health Committee. The committee's purpose was to conduct inquiries, oversee the operation of the League's health work, and prepare work to be presented to the council. [88] This body focused on ending leprosy, malaria, and yellow fever, the latter two by starting an international campaign to exterminate mosquitoes. The Health Organisation also worked successfully with the government of the Soviet Union to prevent typhus epidemics, including organising a large education campaign. [89]

The League of Nations had devoted serious attention to the question of international intellectual co-operation since its creation. [90] The First Assembly in December 1920 recommended that the Council take action aiming at the international organisation of intellectual work, which it did by adopting a report presented by the Fifth Committee of the Second Assembly and inviting a Committee on Intellectual Cooperation to meet in Geneva in August 1922. The French philosopher Henri Bergson became the first chairman of the committee. [91] The work of the committee included: an inquiry into the conditions of intellectual life, assistance to countries where intellectual life was endangered, creation of national committees for intellectual co-operation, co-operation with international intellectual organisations, protection of intellectual property, inter-university co-operation, co-ordination of bibliographical work and international interchange of publications, and international co-operation in archaeological research. [92]

Introduced by the second International Opium Convention, the Permanent Central Opium Board had to supervise the statistical reports on trade in opium, morphine, cocaine and heroin. The board also established a system of import certificates and export authorisations for the legal international trade in narcotics. [93]

The Slavery Commission sought to eradicate slavery and slave trading across the world, and fought forced prostitution. [94] Its main success was through pressing the governments who administered mandated countries to end slavery in those countries. The League secured a commitment from Ethiopia to end slavery as a condition of membership in 1923, and worked with Liberia to abolish forced labour and intertribal slavery. The United Kingdom had not supported Ethiopian membership of the League on the grounds that "Ethiopia had not reached a state of civilisation and internal security sufficient to warrant her admission." [95] [94]

The League also succeeded in reducing the death rate of workers constructing the Tanganyika railway from 55 to 4 percent. Records were kept to control slavery, prostitution, and the trafficking of women and children. [96] Partly as a result of pressure brought by the League of Nations, Afghanistan abolished slavery in 1923, Iraq in 1924, Nepal in 1926, Transjordan and Persia in 1929, Bahrain in 1937, and Ethiopia in 1942. [97]

Led by Fridtjof Nansen, the Commission for Refugees was established on 27 June 1921 [98] to look after the interests of refugees, including overseeing their repatriation and, when necessary, resettlement. [99] At the end of the First World War, there were two to three million ex-prisoners of war from various nations dispersed throughout Russia [99] within two years of the commission's foundation, it had helped 425,000 of them return home. [100] It established camps in Turkey in 1922 to aid the country with an ongoing refugee crisis, helping to prevent the spread of cholera, smallpox and dysentery as well as feeding the refugees in the camps. [101] It also established the Nansen passport as a means of identification for stateless people. [102]

The Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women sought to inquire into the status of women all over the world. It was formed in 1937, and later became part of the United Nations as the Commission on the Status of Women. [103]

The Covenant of the League said little about economics. Nonetheless, in 1920 the Council of the League called for a financial conference. The First Assembly at Geneva provided for the appointment of an Economic and Financial Advisory Committee to provide information to the conference. In 1923, a permanent economic and financial Organization came into being. [104]

Of the League's 42 founding members, 23 (24 counting Free France) remained members until it was dissolved in 1946. In the founding year, six other states joined, only two of which remained members throughout the League's existence. Under the Weimar Republic, Germany was admitted to the League of Nations through a resolution passed on 8 September 1926. [105]

An additional 15 countries joined later. The largest number of member states was 58, between 28 September 1934 (when Ecuador joined) and 23 February 1935 (when Paraguay withdrew). [106]

On 26 May 1937, Egypt became the last state to join the League. The first member to withdraw permanently from the League was Costa Rica on 22 January 1925 having joined on 16 December 1920, this also makes it the member to have most quickly withdrawn. Brazil was the first founding member to withdraw (14 June 1926), and Haiti the last (April 1942). Iraq, which joined in 1932, was the first member that had previously been a League of Nations mandate. [107]

The Soviet Union became a member on 18 September 1934, [108] and was expelled on 14 December 1939 [108] for invading Finland. In expelling the Soviet Union, the League broke its own rule: only 7 of 15 members of the Council voted for expulsion (United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Bolivia, Egypt, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic), short of the majority required by the Covenant. Three of these members had been made Council members the day before the vote (South Africa, Bolivia, and Egypt). This was one of the League's final acts before it practically ceased functioning due to the Second World War. [109]

At the end of the First World War, the Allied powers were confronted with the question of the disposal of the former German colonies in Africa and the Pacific, and the several Arabic-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The Peace Conference adopted the principle that these territories should be administered by different governments on behalf of the League – a system of national responsibility subject to international supervision. [110] This plan, defined as the mandate system, was adopted by the "Council of Ten" (the heads of government and foreign ministers of the main Allied powers: Britain, France, the United States, Italy, and Japan) on 30 January 1919 and transmitted to the League of Nations. [111]

League of Nations mandates were established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. [112] The Permanent Mandates Commission supervised League of Nations mandates, [113] and also organised plebiscites in disputed territories so that residents could decide which country they would join. There were three mandate classifications: A, B and C. [114]

The A mandates (applied to parts of the old Ottoman Empire) were "certain communities" that had

. reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory. [115]

The B mandates were applied to the former German colonies that the League took responsibility for after the First World War. These were described as "peoples" that the League said were

. at such a stage that the Mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases and of military training of the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other Members of the League. [115]

South West Africa and certain South Pacific Islands were administered by League members under C mandates. These were classified as "territories"

. which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisation, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the Mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population." [115]

Mandatory powers Edit

The territories were governed by mandatory powers, such as the United Kingdom in the case of the Mandate of Palestine, and the Union of South Africa in the case of South-West Africa, until the territories were deemed capable of self-government. Fourteen mandate territories were divided up among seven mandatory powers: the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. [116] With the exception of the Kingdom of Iraq, which joined the League on 3 October 1932, [117] these territories did not begin to gain their independence until after the Second World War, in a process that did not end until 1990. Following the demise of the League, most of the remaining mandates became United Nations Trust Territories. [118]

In addition to the mandates, the League itself governed the Territory of the Saar Basin for 15 years, before it was returned to Germany following a plebiscite, and the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) from 15 November 1920 to 1 September 1939. [119]

The aftermath of the First World War left many issues to be settled, including the exact position of national boundaries and which country particular regions would join. Most of these questions were handled by the victorious Allied powers in bodies such as the Allied Supreme Council. The Allies tended to refer only particularly difficult matters to the League. This meant that, during the early interwar period, the League played little part in resolving the turmoil resulting from the war. The questions the League considered in its early years included those designated by the Paris Peace treaties. [120]

As the League developed, its role expanded, and by the middle of the 1920s it had become the centre of international activity. This change can be seen in the relationship between the League and non-members. The United States and Russia, for example, increasingly worked with the League. During the second half of the 1920s, France, Britain and Germany were all using the League of Nations as the focus of their diplomatic activity, and each of their foreign secretaries attended League meetings at Geneva during this period. They also used the League's machinery to try to improve relations and settle their differences. [121]

Åland Islands Edit

Åland is a collection of around 6,500 islands in the Baltic Sea, midway between Sweden and Finland. The islands are almost exclusively Swedish-speaking, but in 1809, the Åland Islands, along with Finland, were taken by Imperial Russia. In December 1917, during the turmoil of the Russian October Revolution, Finland declared its independence, but most of the Ålanders wished to rejoin Sweden. [122] The Finnish government considered the islands to be a part of their new nation, as the Russians had included Åland in the Grand Duchy of Finland, formed in 1809. By 1920, the dispute had escalated to the point that there was danger of war. The British government referred the problem to the League's Council, but Finland would not let the League intervene, as they considered it an internal matter. The League created a small panel to decide if it should investigate the matter and, with an affirmative response, a neutral commission was created. [122] In June 1921, the League announced its decision: the islands were to remain a part of Finland, but with guaranteed protection of the islanders, including demilitarisation. With Sweden's reluctant agreement, this became the first European international agreement concluded directly through the League. [123]

Upper Silesia Edit

The Allied powers referred the problem of Upper Silesia to the League after they had been unable to resolve the territorial dispute. [124] After the First World War, Poland laid claim to Upper Silesia, which had been part of Prussia. The Treaty of Versailles had recommended a plebiscite in Upper Silesia to determine whether the territory should become part of Germany or Poland. Complaints about the attitude of the German authorities led to rioting and eventually to the first two Silesian Uprisings (1919 and 1920). A plebiscite took place on 20 March 1921, with 59.6 per cent (around 500,000) of the votes cast in favour of joining Germany, but Poland claimed the conditions surrounding it had been unfair. This result led to the Third Silesian Uprising in 1921. [125]

On 12 August 1921, the League was asked to settle the matter the Council created a commission with representatives from Belgium, Brazil, China and Spain to study the situation. [126] The committee recommended that Upper Silesia be divided between Poland and Germany according to the preferences shown in the plebiscite and that the two sides should decide the details of the interaction between the two areas – for example, whether goods should pass freely over the border due to the economic and industrial interdependence of the two areas. [127] In November 1921, a conference was held in Geneva to negotiate a convention between Germany and Poland. A final settlement was reached, after five meetings, in which most of the area was given to Germany, but with the Polish section containing the majority of the region's mineral resources and much of its industry. When this agreement became public in May 1922, bitter resentment was expressed in Germany, but the treaty was still ratified by both countries. The settlement produced peace in the area until the beginning of the Second World War. [126]

Albania Edit

The frontiers of the Principality of Albania had not been set during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, as they were left for the League to decide they had not yet been determined by September 1921, creating an unstable situation. Greek troops conducted military operations in the south of Albania. Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslav) forces became engaged, after clashes with Albanian tribesmen, in the northern part of the country. The League sent a commission of representatives from various powers to the region. In November 1921, the League decided that the frontiers of Albania should be the same as they had been in 1913, with three minor changes that favoured Yugoslavia. Yugoslav forces withdrew a few weeks later, albeit under protest. [128]

The borders of Albania again became the cause of international conflict when Italian General Enrico Tellini and four of his assistants were ambushed and killed on 24 August 1923 while marking out the newly decided border between Greece and Albania. Italian leader Benito Mussolini was incensed and demanded that a commission investigate the incident within five days. Whatever the results of the investigation, Mussolini insisted that the Greek government pay Italy fifty million lire in reparations. The Greeks said they would not pay unless it was proved that the crime was committed by Greeks. [129]

Mussolini sent a warship to shell the Greek island of Corfu, and Italian forces occupied the island on 31 August 1923. This contravened the League's covenant, so Greece appealed to the League to deal with the situation. The Allies agreed (at Mussolini's insistence) that the Conference of Ambassadors should be responsible for resolving the dispute because it was the conference that had appointed General Tellini. The League Council examined the dispute, but then passed on their findings to the Conference of Ambassadors to make the final decision. The conference accepted most of the League's recommendations, forcing Greece to pay fifty million lire to Italy, even though those who committed the crime were never discovered. [130] Italian forces then withdrew from Corfu. [131]

Memel Edit

The port city of Memel (now Klaipėda) and the surrounding area, with a predominantly German population, was under provisional Entente control according to Article 99 of the Treaty of Versailles. The French and Polish governments favoured turning Memel into an international city, while Lithuania wanted to annex the area. By 1923, the fate of the area had still not been decided, prompting Lithuanian forces to invade in January 1923 and seize the port. After the Allies failed to reach an agreement with Lithuania, they referred the matter to the League of Nations. In December 1923, the League Council appointed a Commission of Inquiry. The commission chose to cede Memel to Lithuania and give the area autonomous rights. The Klaipėda Convention was approved by the League Council on 14 March 1924, and then by the Allied powers and Lithuania. [132] In 1939 Germany retook the region following the rise of the Nazis and an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the return of the region under threat of war. The League of Nations failed to prevent the secession of the Memel region to Germany.

Hatay Edit

With League oversight, the Sanjak of Alexandretta in the French Mandate of Syria was given autonomy in 1937. Renamed Hatay, its parliament declared independence as the Republic of Hatay in September 1938, after elections the previous month. It was annexed by Turkey with French consent in mid-1939. [133]

Mosul Edit

The League resolved a dispute between the Kingdom of Iraq and the Republic of Turkey over control of the former Ottoman province of Mosul in 1926. According to the British, who had been awarded a League of Nations mandate over Iraq in 1920 and therefore represented Iraq in its foreign affairs, Mosul belonged to Iraq on the other hand, the new Turkish republic claimed the province as part of its historic heartland. A League of Nations Commission of Inquiry, with Belgian, Hungarian and Swedish members, was sent to the region in 1924 it found that the people of Mosul did not want to be part of either Turkey or Iraq, but if they had to choose, they would pick Iraq. [134] In 1925, the commission recommended that the region stay part of Iraq, under the condition that the British hold the mandate over Iraq for another 25 years, to ensure the autonomous rights of the Kurdish population. The League Council adopted the recommendation and decided on 16 December 1925 to award Mosul to Iraq. Although Turkey had accepted the League of Nations' arbitration in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), it rejected the decision, questioning the Council's authority. The matter was referred to the Permanent Court of International Justice, which ruled that, when the Council made a unanimous decision, it must be accepted. Nonetheless, Britain, Iraq and Turkey ratified a separate treaty on 5 June 1926 that mostly followed the decision of the League Council and also assigned Mosul to Iraq. It was agreed that Iraq could still apply for League membership within 25 years and that the mandate would end upon its admission. [135] [136]

Vilnius Edit

After the First World War, Poland and Lithuania both regained their independence but soon became immersed in territorial disputes. [137] During the Polish–Soviet War, Lithuania signed the Moscow Peace Treaty with the Soviet Union that laid out Lithuania's frontiers. This agreement gave Lithuanians control of the city of Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilnius, Polish: Wilno), the old Lithuanian capital, but a city with a majority Polish population. [138] This heightened tension between Lithuania and Poland and led to fears that they would resume the Polish–Lithuanian War, and on 7 October 1920, the League negotiated the Suwałki Agreement establishing a cease-fire and a demarcation line between the two nations. [137] On 9 October 1920, General Lucjan Żeligowski, commanding a Polish military force in contravention of the Suwałki Agreement, took the city and established the Republic of Central Lithuania. [137]

After a request for assistance from Lithuania, the League Council called for Poland's withdrawal from the area. The Polish government indicated they would comply, but instead reinforced the city with more Polish troops. [139] This prompted the League to decide that the future of Vilnius should be determined by its residents in a plebiscite and that the Polish forces should withdraw and be replaced by an international force organised by the League. The plan was met with resistance in Poland, Lithuania, and the Soviet Union, which opposed any international force in Lithuania. In March 1921, the League abandoned plans for the plebiscite. [140] After unsuccessful proposals by Paul Hymans to create a federation between Poland and Lithuania, which was intended as a reincarnation of the former union which both Poland and Lithuania had once shared before losing its independence, Vilnius and the surrounding area was formally annexed by Poland in March 1922. After Lithuania took over the Klaipėda Region, the Allied Conference set the frontier between Lithuania and Poland, leaving Vilnius within Poland, on 14 March 1923. [141] Lithuanian authorities refused to accept the decision, and officially remained in a state of war with Poland until 1927. [142] It was not until the 1938 Polish ultimatum that Lithuania restored diplomatic relations with Poland and thus de facto accepted the borders. [143]

Colombia and Peru Edit

There were several border conflicts between Colombia and Peru in the early part of the 20th century, and in 1922, their governments signed the Salomón-Lozano Treaty in an attempt to resolve them. [144] As part of this treaty, the border town of Leticia and its surrounding area was ceded from Peru to Colombia, giving Colombia access to the Amazon River. [145] On 1 September 1932, business leaders from Peruvian rubber and sugar industries who had lost land, as a result, organised an armed takeover of Leticia. [146] At first, the Peruvian government did not recognise the military takeover, but President of Peru Luis Sánchez Cerro decided to resist a Colombian re-occupation. The Peruvian Army occupied Leticia, leading to an armed conflict between the two nations. [147] After months of diplomatic negotiations, the governments accepted mediation by the League of Nations, and their representatives presented their cases before the Council. A provisional peace agreement, signed by both parties in May 1933, provided for the League to assume control of the disputed territory while bilateral negotiations proceeded. [148] In May 1934, a final peace agreement was signed, resulting in the return of Leticia to Colombia, a formal apology from Peru for the 1932 invasion, demilitarisation of the area around Leticia, free navigation on the Amazon and Putumayo Rivers, and a pledge of non-aggression. [149]

Saar Edit

Saar was a province formed from parts of Prussia and the Rhenish Palatinate and placed under League control by the Treaty of Versailles. A plebiscite was to be held after fifteen years of League rule to determine whether the province should belong to Germany or France. When the referendum was held in 1935, 90.3 per cent of voters supported becoming part of Germany, which was quickly approved by the League Council. [150] [151]

In addition to territorial disputes, the League also tried to intervene in other conflicts between and within nations. Among its successes were its fight against the international trade in opium and sexual slavery, and its work to alleviate the plight of refugees, particularly in Turkey in the period up to 1926. One of its innovations in this latter area was the 1922 introduction of the Nansen passport, which was the first internationally recognised identity card for stateless refugees. [152]

Greece and Bulgaria Edit

After an incident involving sentries on the Greek-Bulgarian border in October 1925, fighting began between the two countries. [153] Three days after the initial incident, Greek troops invaded Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government ordered its troops to make only token resistance, and evacuated between ten thousand and fifteen thousand people from the border region, trusting the League to settle the dispute. [154] The League condemned the Greek invasion, and called for both Greek withdrawal and compensation to Bulgaria. [153]

Liberia Edit

Following accusations of forced labour on the large American-owned Firestone rubber plantation and American accusations of slave trading, the Liberian government asked the League to launch an investigation. [155] The resulting commission was jointly appointed by the League, the United States, and Liberia. [156] In 1930, a League report confirmed the presence of slavery and forced labour. The report implicated many government officials in the selling of contract labour and recommended that they be replaced by Europeans or Americans, which generated anger within Liberia and led to the resignation of President Charles D. B. King and his vice-president. The Liberian government outlawed forced labour and slavery and asked for American help in social reforms. [156] [157]

Mukden Incident: Japan attacks China Edit

The Mukden Incident, also known as the "Manchurian Incident" was a decisive setback that weakened The League because its major members refused to tackle Japanese aggression. Japan itself withdrew. [158]

Under the agreed terms of the Twenty-One Demands with China, the Japanese government had the right to station its troops in the area around the South Manchurian Railway, a major trade route between the two countries, in the Chinese region of Manchuria. In September 1931, a section of the railway was lightly damaged by the Japanese Kwantung Army as a pretext for an invasion of Manchuria. [159] [160] The Japanese army claimed that Chinese soldiers had sabotaged the railway and in apparent retaliation (acting contrary to orders from Tokyo, [161] ) occupied all of Manchuria. They renamed the area Manchukuo, and on 9 March 1932 set up a puppet government, with Pu Yi, the former emperor of China, as its executive head. [162] This new entity was recognised only by the governments of Italy, Spain and Nazi Germany the rest of the world still considered Manchuria legally part of China.

The League of Nations sent observers. The Lytton Report appeared a year later (October 1932). It declared Japan to be the aggressor and demanded Manchuria be returned to China. The report passed 42–1 in the Assembly in 1933 (only Japan voting against), but instead of removing its troops from China, Japan withdrew from the League. [163] In the end, as British historian Charles Mowat argued, collective security was dead:

The League and the ideas of collective security and the rule of law were defeated partly because of indifference and of sympathy with the aggressor, but partly because the League powers were unprepared, preoccupied with other matters, and too slow to perceive the scale of Japanese ambitions. [164]

Chaco War Edit

The League failed to prevent the 1932 war between Bolivia and Paraguay over the arid Gran Chaco region. Although the region was sparsely populated, it contained the Paraguay River, which would have given either landlocked country access to the Atlantic Ocean, [165] and there was also speculation, later proved incorrect, that the Chaco would be a rich source of petroleum. [166] Border skirmishes throughout the late 1920s culminated in an all-out war in 1932 when the Bolivian army attacked the Paraguayans at Fort Carlos Antonio López at Lake Pitiantuta. [167] Paraguay appealed to the League of Nations, but the League did not take action when the Pan-American Conference offered to mediate instead. The war was a disaster for both sides, causing 57,000 casualties for Bolivia, whose population was around three million, and 36,000 dead for Paraguay, whose population was approximately one million. [168] It also brought both countries to the brink of economic disaster. By the time a ceasefire was negotiated on 12 June 1935, Paraguay had seized control of most of the region, as was later recognised by the 1938 truce. [169]

Italian invasion of Abyssinia Edit

In October 1935, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini sent 400,000 troops to invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia). [170] Marshal Pietro Badoglio led the campaign from November 1935, ordering bombing, the use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas, and the poisoning of water supplies, against targets which included undefended villages and medical facilities. [170] [171] The modern Italian Army defeated the poorly armed Abyssinians and captured Addis Ababa in May 1936, forcing Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie to flee. [172]

The League of Nations condemned Italy's aggression and imposed economic sanctions in November 1935, but the sanctions were largely ineffective since they did not ban the sale of oil or close the Suez Canal (controlled by Britain). [173] As Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister, later observed, this was ultimately because no one had the military forces on hand to withstand an Italian attack. [174] In October 1935, the US president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, invoked the recently passed Neutrality Acts and placed an embargo on arms and munitions to both sides, but extended a further "moral embargo" to the belligerent Italians, including other trade items. On 5 October and later on 29 February 1936, the United States endeavoured, with limited success, to limit its exports of oil and other materials to normal peacetime levels. [175] The League sanctions were lifted on 4 July 1936, but by that point, Italy had already gained control of the urban areas of Abyssinia. [176]

The Hoare–Laval Pact of December 1935 was an attempt by the British Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare and the French Prime Minister Pierre Laval to end the conflict in Abyssinia by proposing to partition the country into an Italian sector and an Abyssinian sector. Mussolini was prepared to agree to the pact, but news of the deal leaked out. Both the British and French public vehemently protested against it, describing it as a sell-out of Abyssinia. Hoare and Laval were forced to resign, and the British and French governments dissociated themselves from the two men. [177] In June 1936, although there was no precedent for a head of state addressing the Assembly of the League of Nations in person, Haile Selassie spoke to the Assembly, appealing for its help in protecting his country. [178]

The Abyssinian crisis showed how the League could be influenced by the self-interest of its members [179] one of the reasons why the sanctions were not very harsh was that both Britain and France feared the prospect of driving Mussolini and Adolf Hitler into an alliance. [180]

Spanish Civil War Edit

On 17 July 1936, the Spanish Army launched a coup d'état, leading to a prolonged armed conflict between Spanish Republicans (the elected leftist national government) and the Nationalists (conservative, anti-communist rebels who included most officers of the Spanish Army). [181] Julio Álvarez del Vayo, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, appealed to the League in September 1936 for arms to defend Spain's territorial integrity and political independence. The League members would not intervene in the Spanish Civil War nor prevent foreign intervention in the conflict. Adolf Hitler and Mussolini continued to aid General Francisco Franco's Nationalists, while the Soviet Union, to a much lesser extent, helped the Spanish Republic. In February 1937, the League did ban foreign volunteers, but this was in practice a symbolic move. [182]

Second Sino-Japanese War Edit

Following a long record of instigating localised conflicts throughout the 1930s, Japan began a full-scale invasion of China on 7 July 1937. On 12 September, the Chinese representative, Wellington Koo, appealed to the League for international intervention. Western countries were sympathetic to the Chinese in their struggle, particularly in their stubborn defence of Shanghai, a city with a substantial number of foreigners. [183] The League was unable to provide any practical measures on 4 October, it turned the case over to the Nine Power Treaty Conference. [184] [185]

Soviet invasion of Finland Edit

The Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939, contained secret protocols outlining spheres of interest. Finland and the Baltic states, as well as eastern Poland, fell into the Soviet sphere. After invading Poland on 17 September 1939, on 30 November the Soviets invaded Finland. Then "the League of Nations for the first time expelled a member who had violated the Covenant." [186] The League action of 14 December 1939, stung. "The Soviet Union was the only League member ever to suffer such an indignity." [187] [188]

Article 8 of the Covenant gave the League the task of reducing "armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations". [189] A significant amount of the League's time and energy was devoted to this goal, even though many member governments were uncertain that such extensive disarmament could be achieved or was even desirable. [190] The Allied powers were also under obligation by the Treaty of Versailles to attempt to disarm, and the armament restrictions imposed on the defeated countries had been described as the first step toward worldwide disarmament. [190] The League Covenant assigned the League the task of creating a disarmament plan for each state, but the Council devolved this responsibility to a special commission set up in 1926 to prepare for the 1932–1934 World Disarmament Conference. [191] Members of the League held different views towards the issue. The French were reluctant to reduce their armaments without a guarantee of military help if they were attacked Poland and Czechoslovakia felt vulnerable to attack from the west and wanted the League's response to aggression against its members to be strengthened before they disarmed. [192] Without this guarantee, they would not reduce armaments because they felt the risk of attack from Germany was too great. Fear of attack increased as Germany regained its strength after the First World War, especially after Adolf Hitler gained power and became German Chancellor in 1933. In particular, Germany's attempts to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and the reconstruction of the German military made France increasingly unwilling to disarm. [191]

The World Disarmament Conference was convened by the League of Nations in Geneva in 1932, with representatives from 60 states. It was a failure. [193] A one-year moratorium on the expansion of armaments, later extended by a few months, was proposed at the start of the conference. [194] The Disarmament Commission obtained initial agreement from France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Britain to limit the size of their navies but no final agreement was reached. Ultimately, the Commission failed to halt the military build-up by Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan during the 1930s.

The League was mostly silent in the face of major events leading to the Second World War, such as Hitler's remilitarisation of the Rhineland, occupation of the Sudetenland and Anschluss of Austria, which had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. In fact, League members themselves re-armed. In 1933, Japan simply withdrew from the League rather than submit to its judgement, [195] as did Germany the same year (using the failure of the World Disarmament Conference to agree to arms parity between France and Germany as a pretext), Italy and Spain in 1937. [196] The final significant act of the League was to expel the Soviet Union in December 1939 after it invaded Finland. [197]

The onset of the Second World War demonstrated that the League had failed in its primary purpose, the prevention of another world war. There were a variety of reasons for this failure, many connected to general weaknesses within the organisation. Additionally, the power of the League was limited by the United States' refusal to join. [198]

Origins and structure Edit

The origins of the League as an organisation created by the Allied powers as part of the peace settlement to end the First World War led to it being viewed as a "League of Victors". [199] [200] The League's neutrality tended to manifest itself as indecision. It required a unanimous vote of nine, later fifteen, Council members to enact a resolution hence, conclusive and effective action was difficult, if not impossible. It was also slow in coming to its decisions, as certain ones required the unanimous consent of the entire Assembly. This problem mainly stemmed from the fact that the primary members of the League of Nations were not willing to accept the possibility of their fate being decided by other countries, and by enforcing unanimous voting had effectively given themselves veto power. [201] [202]

Global representation Edit

Representation at the League was often a problem. Though it was intended to encompass all nations, many never joined, or their period of membership was short. The most conspicuous absentee was the United States. President Woodrow Wilson had been a driving force behind the League's formation and strongly influenced the form it took, but the US Senate voted not to join on 19 November 1919. [203] Ruth Henig has suggested that, had the United States become a member, it would have also provided support to France and Britain, possibly making France feel more secure, and so encouraging France and Britain to co-operate more fully regarding Germany, thus making the rise to power of the Nazi Party less likely. [204] Conversely, Henig acknowledges that if the US had been a member, its reluctance to engage in war with European states or to enact economic sanctions might have hampered the ability of the League to deal with international incidents. [204] The structure of the US federal government might also have made its membership problematic, as its representatives at the League could not have made decisions on behalf of the executive branch without having the prior approval of the legislative branch. [205]

In January 1920, when the League was born, Germany was not permitted to join because it was seen as having been the aggressor in the First World War. Soviet Russia was also initially excluded because Communist regimes were not welcomed and membership would have been initially dubious due to the Russian Civil War in which both sides claimed to be the legitimate government of the country. The League was further weakened when major powers left in the 1930s. Japan began as a permanent member of the Council since the country was an Allied Power in the First World War, but withdrew in 1933 after the League voiced opposition to its occupation of Manchuria. [206] Italy began as a permanent member of the Council but withdrew in 1937 after roughly a year following the end of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. Spain also began as a permanent member of the Council, but withdrew in 1939 after the Spanish Civil War ended in a victory for the Nationalists. The League had accepted Germany, also as a permanent member of the Council, in 1926, deeming it a "peace-loving country", but Adolf Hitler pulled Germany out when he came to power in 1933. [207]

Collective security Edit

Another important weakness grew from the contradiction between the idea of collective security that formed the basis of the League and international relations between individual states. [208] The League's collective security system required nations to act, if necessary, against states they considered friendly, and in a way that might endanger their national interests, to support states for which they had no normal affinity. [208] This weakness was exposed during the Abyssinia Crisis, when Britain and France had to balance maintaining the security they had attempted to create for themselves in Europe "to defend against the enemies of internal order", [209] in which Italy's support played a pivotal role, with their obligations to Abyssinia as a member of the League. [210]

On 23 June 1936, in the wake of the collapse of League efforts to restrain Italy's war against Abyssinia, the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, told the House of Commons that collective security had

failed ultimately because of the reluctance of nearly all the nations in Europe to proceed to what I might call military sanctions . The real reason, or the main reason, was that we discovered in the process of weeks that there was no country except the aggressor country which was ready for war . [I]f collective action is to be a reality and not merely a thing to be talked about, it means not only that every country is to be ready for war but must be ready to go to war at once. That is a terrible thing, but it is an essential part of collective security. [174]

Ultimately, Britain and France both abandoned the concept of collective security in favour of appeasement in the face of growing German militarism under Hitler. [211] In this context, the League of Nations was also the institution where the first international debate on terrorism took place following the 1934 assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in Marseille, France, showing its conspiratorial features, many of which are detectable in the discourse of terrorism among states after 9/11. [212]

American diplomatic historian Samuel Flagg Bemis originally supported the League, but after two decades changed his mind:

The League of Nations has been a disappointing failure. It has been a failure, not because the United States did not join it but because the great powers have been unwilling to apply sanctions except where it suited their individual national interests to do so, and because Democracy, on which the original concepts of the League rested for support, has collapsed over half the world. [213]

Pacifism and disarmament Edit

The League of Nations lacked an armed force of its own and depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, which they were very unwilling to do. [214] Its two most important members, Britain and France, were reluctant to use sanctions and even more reluctant to resort to military action on behalf of the League. Immediately after the First World War, pacifism became a strong force among both the people and governments of the two countries. The British Conservatives were especially tepid to the League and preferred, when in government, to negotiate treaties without the involvement of that organisation. [215] Moreover, the League's advocacy of disarmament for Britain, France, and its other members, while at the same time advocating collective security, meant that the League was depriving itself of the only forceful means by which it could uphold its authority. [216]

When the British cabinet discussed the concept of the League during the First World War, Maurice Hankey, the Cabinet Secretary, circulated a memorandum on the subject. He started by saying, "Generally it appears to me that any such scheme is dangerous to us because it will create a sense of security which is wholly fictitious". [217] He attacked the British pre-war faith in the sanctity of treaties as delusional and concluded by claiming:

It [a League of Nations] will only result in failure and the longer that failure is postponed the more certain it is that this country will have been lulled to sleep. It will put a very strong lever into the hands of the well-meaning idealists who are to be found in almost every Government, who deprecate expenditure on armaments, and, in the course of time, it will almost certainly result in this country being caught at a disadvantage. [217]

The Foreign Office civil servant Sir Eyre Crowe also wrote a memorandum to the British cabinet claiming that "a solemn league and covenant" would just be "a treaty, like other treaties". "What is there to ensure that it will not, like other treaties, be broken?" Crowe went on to express scepticism of the planned "pledge of common action" against aggressors because he believed the actions of individual states would still be determined by national interests and the balance of power. He also criticised the proposal for League economic sanctions because it would be ineffectual and that "It is all a question of real military preponderance". Universal disarmament was a practical impossibility, Crowe warned. [217]

As the situation in Europe escalated into war, the Assembly transferred enough power to the Secretary General on 30 September 1938 and 14 December 1939 to allow the League to continue to exist legally and carry on reduced operations. [109] The headquarters of the League, the Palace of Nations, remained unoccupied for nearly six years until the Second World War ended. [219]

At the 1943 Tehran Conference, the Allied powers agreed to create a new body to replace the League: the United Nations. Many League bodies, such as the International Labour Organization, continued to function and eventually became affiliated with the UN. [87] The designers of the structures of the United Nations intended to make it more effective than the League. [220]

The final meeting of the League of Nations took place on 18 April 1946 in Geneva. [221] Delegates from 34 nations attended the assembly. [222] This session concerned itself with liquidating the League: it transferred assets worth approximately $22,000,000 (U.S.) in 1946 [223] (including the Palace of Nations and the League's archives) to the UN, returned reserve funds to the nations that had supplied them, and settled the debts of the League. [222] Robert Cecil, addressing the final session, said:

Let us boldly state that aggression wherever it occurs and however it may be defended, is an international crime, that it is the duty of every peace-loving state to resent it and employ whatever force is necessary to crush it, that the machinery of the Charter, no less than the machinery of the Covenant, is sufficient for this purpose if properly used, and that every well-disposed citizen of every state should be ready to undergo any sacrifice in order to maintain peace . I venture to impress upon my hearers that the great work of peace is resting not only on the narrow interests of our own nations, but even more on those great principles of right and wrong which nations, like individuals, depend.

The League is dead. Long live the United Nations. [222]

The Assembly passed a resolution that "With effect from the day following the close of the present session of the Assembly [i.e., April 19], the League of Nations shall cease to exist except for the sole purpose of the liquidation of its affairs as provided in the present resolution." [224] A Board of Liquidation consisting of nine persons from different countries spent the next 15 months overseeing the transfer of the League's assets and functions to the United Nations or specialised bodies, finally dissolving itself on 31 July 1947. [224]

The archive of the League of Nations was transferred to the United Nations Office at Geneva and is now an entry in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. [225]

In the past few decades, by research using the League Archives at Geneva, historians have reviewed the legacy of the League of Nations as the United Nations has faced similar troubles to those of the interwar period. Current consensus views that, even though the League failed to achieve its ultimate goal of world peace, it did manage to build new roads towards expanding the rule of law across the globe strengthened the concept of collective security, giving a voice to smaller nations helped to raise awareness to problems like epidemics, slavery, child labour, colonial tyranny, refugee crises and general working conditions through its numerous commissions and committees and paved the way for new forms of statehood, as the mandate system put the colonial powers under international observation. [226]

Professor David Kennedy portrays the League as a unique moment when international affairs were "institutionalised", as opposed to the pre–First World War methods of law and politics. [227]

The principal Allies in the Second World War (the UK, the USSR, France, the U.S., and the Republic of China) became permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in 1946 in 1971, the People's Republic of China replaced the Republic of China (then only in control of Taiwan) as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and in 1991 the Russian Federation assumed the seat of the dissolved USSR.

Decisions of the Security Council are binding on all members of the UN, and unanimous decisions are not required, unlike in the League Council. Only the five permanent members of the Security Council can wield a veto to protect their vital interests. [228]

The League of Nations archives is a collection of the League's records and documents. It consists of approximately 15 million pages of content dating from the inception of the League of Nations in 1919 extending through its dissolution, which commenced in 1946. It is located at the United Nations Office at Geneva. [229]

Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives Project (LONTAD) Edit

In 2017, the UN Library & Archives Geneva launched the Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives Project (LONTAD), with the intention of preserving, digitizing, and providing online access to the League of Nations archives. It is scheduled for completion in 2022. [230]

Notes Edit

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Bibliography Edit

Surveys Edit

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Historiography Edit

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League topics Edit

  • Akami, T. "Imperial polities, intercolonialism and shaping of global governing norms: public health expert networks in Asia and the League of Nations Health Organization, 1908–37," Journal of Global History 12#1 (2017): 4–25.
  • Barros, James. The Corfu incident of 1923: Mussolini and the League of Nations (Princeton UP, 2015).
  • Bendiner, Elmer. A Time of Angels: The Tragi-comic History of the League of Nations (1975).
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  • Burkman, Thomas W. Japan and the League of Nations: Empire and world order, 1914–1938 (U of Hawaii Press, 2008). . Securing the world economy: the reinvention of the League of Nations, 1920–1946 (Oxford UP, 2013).
  • Caravantes, Peggy (2004). Waging Peace: The story of Jane Addams (1st ed.). Greensboro, North Carolina: Morgan Reynolds. ISBN978-1-931798-40-2 . . Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations (2001) 454pp excerpt and text search
  • Ditrych, Ondrej. "“International terrorism” in the League of Nations and the contemporary terrorism dispositif." Critical Studies on Terrorism 6#2 (2013): 225–240.
  • Dykmann, Klaas. "How International was the Secretariat of the League of Nations?." International History Review 37#4 (2015): 721–744.
  • Egerton, George W (1978). Great Britain and the Creation of the League of Nations: Strategy, Politics, and International Organization, 1914–1919. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN978-0-807-81320-1 .
  • Gill, George (1996). The League of Nations from 1929 to 1946 . Avery Publishing Group. ISBN978-0-89529-637-5 .
  • Ginneken, Anique H.M. van. Historical Dictionary of the League of Nations (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Grandjean, Martin (2018). Les réseaux de la coopération intellectuelle. La Société des Nations comme actrice des échanges scientifiques et culturels dans l'entre-deux-guerres [The Networks of Intellectual Cooperation. The League of Nations as an Actor of the Scientific and Cultural Exchanges in the Inter-War Period] (in French). Lausanne: Université de Lausanne.
  • Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon (1918), The League of Nations (1st ed.), London: WHSmith, WikidataQ105700467
  • Götz, Norbert (2005). "On the Origins of 'Parliamentary Diplomacy ' ". Cooperation and Conflict. 40 (3): 263–279. doi:10.1177/0010836705055066. S2CID144380900.
  • Jenne, Erin K. Nested Security: Lessons in Conflict Management from the League of Nations and the European Union (Cornell UP, 2015).
  • Kuehl, Warren F Dunn, Lynne K (1997). Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920–1939.
  • League of Nations (1935). Essential Facts about the League of Nations. Geneva.
  • Lloyd, Lorna. "“(O) n the side of justice and peace”: Canada on the League of Nations Council 1927–1930." Diplomacy & Statecraft 24#2 (2013): 171–191.
  • McCarthy, Helen. The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, citizenship and internationalism, c. 1918–45 (Oxford UP, 2011). online review
  • Malin, James C (1930). The United States after the World War. pp. 5–82.
  • Marbeau, Michel (2001). La Société des Nations (in French). Presses Universitaires de France. ISBN978-2-13-051635-4 .
  • Ostrower, Gary (1995). The League of Nations from 1919 to 1929 (Partners for Peace. Avery Publishing Group. ISBN978-0895296368 .
  • Shine, Cormac (2018). "Papal Diplomacy by Proxy? Catholic Internationalism at the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation". The Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 69 (4): 785–805. doi:10.1017/S0022046917002731.
  • Swart, William J. "The League of Nations and the Irish Question." Sociological Quarterly 36.3 (1995): 465–481.
  • Walters, F. P. (1952). A History of the League of Nations. Oxford University Press.
  • Yearwood, Peter J. Guarantee of Peace: The League of Nations in British Policy 1914–1925 (Oxford UP, 2009).

Specialised topics Edit

  • Archer, Clive (2001). International Organizations. Routledge. ISBN978-0-415-24690-3 .
  • Baer, George W (1976). Test Case: Italy, Ethiopia, and the League of Nations. Hoover Institution Press. ISBN978-0-8179-6591-4 .
  • Barnett, Correlli (1972). The Collapse of British Power. Eyre Methuen. ISBN978-0-413-27580-6 .
  • Baumslag, Naomi (2005). Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus . Praeger. ISBN978-0-275-98312-3 .
  • Bell, P.M.H (2007). The Origins of the Second World War in Europe. Pearson Education Limited. ISBN978-1-4058-4028-6 .
  • Bethell, Leslie (1991). The Cambridge History of Latin America: Volume VIII 1930 to the Present. Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-0-521-26652-9 .
  • Bouchet-Saulnier, Françoise Brav, Laura Olivier, Clementine (2007). The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law . Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN978-0-7425-5496-2 .
  • Churchill, Winston (1986). The Second World War: Volume I The Gathering Storm . Houghton Mifflin Books. ISBN978-0-395-41055-4 .
  • Crampton, Ben (1996). Atlas of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century. Routledge. ISBN978-0-415-16461-0 .
  • Everard, Myriam de Haan, Francisca (2016). Rosa Manus (1881-1942): The International Life and Legacy of a Jewish Dutch Feminist. Leiden, The Netherlands: BRILL. ISBN978-90-04-33318-5 .
  • Frowein, Jochen A Rüdiger, Wolfrum (2000). Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN978-90-411-1403-7 .
  • Goldblat, Jozef (2002). Arms control: the new guide to negotiations and agreements. SAGE Publications Ltd. ISBN978-0-7619-4016-6 .
  • Gorodetsky, Gabriel (1994). Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917–1991: A Retrospective. Routledge. ISBN978-0-7146-4506-3 .
  • Henderson, Arthur (1918). The League of Nations and labour . London: Oxford University Press.
  • Hill, Robert Garvey, Marcus Universal Negro Improvement Association (1995). The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers. University of California Press. ISBN978-0-520-07208-4 .
  • Iriye, Akira (1987). The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific. Longman Group UK Limited. ISBN978-0-582-49349-0 .
  • Jacobs, Aletta Henriette (1996). Feinberg, Harriet Wright, Annie (translator) (eds.). Memories: My Life as an International Leader in Health, Suffrage, and Peace. New York, New York: Feminist Press at City of New York. ISBN978-1-55861-138-2 .
  • Kennedy, David (April 1987). "The Move to Institutions" (PDF) . Cardozo Law Review. 8 (5): 841–988 . Retrieved 17 May 2008 .
  • Knock, Thomas J (1995). To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order. Princeton University Press. ISBN978-0-691-00150-0 .
  • Lannon, Frances (2002). The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 . Osprey Publishing. ISBN978-1-84176-369-9 .
  • Levinovitz, Agneta Wallin Ringertz, Nils (2001). The Nobel Prize: The First 100 Years. World Scientific. ISBN978-981-02-4665-5 .
  • Levy, Marcela López (2001). Bolivia: Oxfam Country Profiles Series. Oxfam Publishing. ISBN978-0-85598-455-7 .
  • Magliveras, Konstantinos D (1999). Exclusion from Participation in International Organisations: The Law and Practice behind Member States' Expulsion and Suspension of Membership. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN978-90-411-1239-2 .
  • Marchand, C. Roland (2015). The American Peace Movement and Social Reform, 1889-1918. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN978-1-4008-7025-7 .
  • McAllister, William B (1999). Drug Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century: An International History. Routledge. ISBN978-0-415-17990-4 .
  • McDonough, Frank (1997). The Origins of the First and Second World Wars. Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-0-521-56861-6 .
  • Miers, Suzanne (2003). Slavery in the Twentieth Century: The Evolution of a Global Problem. AltaMira Press. ISBN978-0-7591-0340-5 .
  • Meyer, Mary K. Prügl, Elisabeth, eds. (1999). Gender Politics in Global Governance. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN978-0-8476-9161-6 .
  • Nish, Ian (1977). Japanese foreign policy 1869–1942:Kasumigaseki to Miyakezaka. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN978-0-415-27375-6 .
  • Olivier, Sydney (1918). The League of Nations and primitive peoples (1 ed.). London: Oxford University Press.
  • Osmanczyk, Edmund Jan Mango, Anthony (2002). Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements. Taylor & Francis. ISBN978-0-415-93924-9 .
  • Pietilä, Hilkka (31 March 1999). Engendering the Global Agenda: A Success Story of Women and the United Nations (PDF) . European Consortium for Political Research Workshop. Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany: University of Mannheim. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 May 2017 . Retrieved 31 August 2017 .
  • Rapoport, Anatol (1995). The Origins of Violence: Approaches to the Study of Conflict. Transaction Publishers. ISBN978-1-56000-783-8 .
  • Reichard, Martin (2006). The EU-NATO relationship: a legal and political perspective. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN978-0-7546-4759-1 .
  • Scheina, Robert L (2003). Latin America's Wars:Volume 2 The Age of the Professional Soldier, 1900–2001. Potomac Books Inc. ISBN978-1-57488-452-4 .
  • Skirbekk, Gunnar Gilje, Nils (2001). History of Western Thought: From Ancient Greece to the Twentieth Century. Routledge. ISBN978-0-415-22073-6 .
  • Temperley, A.C. The Whispering Gallery Of Europe (1938), highly influential account of League esp disarmament conference of 1932–34. online
  • Torpey, John (2000). The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State. Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-0-521-63493-9 .
  • Tripp, Charles (2002). A History of Iraq. Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-0-521-52900-6 .
  • Wiltsher, Anne (1985). Most Dangerous Women: Feminist peace campaigners of the Great War (1st ed.). London, England: Pandora Press. ISBN978-0-86358-010-9 .
    , Boston: Old Colony Trust Company, 1919. A collection of charters, speeches, etc. on the topic. , worldatwar.net , University of Oxford-led project Speech made 25 September 1919 from the United Nations Office at Geneva from the United Nations Office at Geneva Dates of each annual assembly, links to list of members of each country's delegation in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW

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Switzerland: Policy of Neutrality

The Switzerland’s Ambassador recently said that its traditional foreign Policy of Neutrality (Swiss Neutrality) has become attractive again because of the changing political reality around the world.

  • Policy of Neutrality
    • The Policy of Neutrality is a foreign policy position wherein a state intends to remain neutral in future wars. A sovereign state that reserves the right to become belligerent if attacked by a party to the war is in a condition of armed neutrality.
    • A permanently neutral power is a sovereign state which is bound by international treaty, or by its own declaration, to be neutral towards the belligerents of all future wars. An example of a permanently neutral power is Switzerland. Other being Ireland, Austria, etc.
      • The concept of neutrality in war is narrowly defined and puts specific constraints on the neutral party in return for the internationally recognized right to remain neutral.
      • The National policies of neutrality are aimed at promoting the use of preventive diplomacy, which is a core function of the UN.
      • The term “Preventive diplomacy” refers to diplomatic action taken to prevent disputes from escalating into conflicts and to limit the spread of conflicts when they occur.
      • The country is renowned for its neutrality, but this should not be confused with pacifism. Switzerland maintains an army, including obligatory conscription for men, and did so throughout both World Wars.
      • The last time Switzerland (Swiss) fought a military battle was 500 years ago, against the French (the Swiss lost).
      • In the year 1783, Switzerland was acknowledged as a neutral state in the Treaty of Paris (1783).
        • Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris by Great Britain and the USA and Canada on 3 September 1783, and it officially ended the American Revolutionary War (19 Apr 1775 – 3 Sep 1783).
        • Discussions on Syria, Libya and Yemen were held in Geneva.
        • India’s policy of Non-alignment and Switzerland’s traditional policy of neutrality have led to a close understanding between the countries.
        • In the year 1948, a Treaty of Friendship was concluded between both the countries. Both believe in the spirit of democracy and pluralism.

        Non-Aligned Movement

        • The Non-Aligned Movement forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
        • Origin
          • The forum was started in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in the year 1961.
          • It was created by Yugoslavia’s President, Josip Broz Tito, first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s second President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia’s first President, Sukarno.
          • The most important antecedent to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement was the Bandung Conference of 1955.
          • It has sought to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers.”
          • It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach.
          • At present, an additional goal is facilitating a restructuring of the international economic order.
          • Respect for fundamental human rights and of the objectives and principles of the Charter of the UN.
          • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.
          • Recognition of equality among all races and of equality among all nations, both large and small.
          • Non-interference or non-intervention into the internal affairs of another country.
          • Respect the right of every nation to defend itself, either individually or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
          • Non-use of collective defence pacts to benefit the specific interests of any of the great powers.
          • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression and use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any nation.
          • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means.
          • Promotion of mutual interest and cooperation.
          • Respect for justice and international obligations.

          Switzerland Policy of Neutrality Switzerland Policy of Neutrality Switzerland Policy of Neutrality

          Letter and Spirit of Neutrality

          Though neutral Switzerland adhered to the mandatory international rules during World War 2, while the warfaring nations violated even these (neither Germany nor the Allies respected Swiss air space, Allied aircraft even dropped about 70 bombs on Switzerland ), it is evident that being neutral would call for a spirit of neutrality that was offended by important Swiss actors.

          Switzerland's national bank, private Swiss bankers and private manufacturers of war material exploited in fact every loophole in the regulations for their business with Nazi Germany. This was evidently not the notion of neutrality and so Swiss Federal Councillor [member of government] Max Petitpierre (in office 1945-1951) had to admit as early as 1947:

          If small nations like Switzerland really want to be neutral, they must adhere not only to the letter but as well to the spirit of neutrality. Switzerland has passed stricter internal legislation on the export of war material and does take part in United Nations' peace keeping missions meanwhile.

          In every major conflict of the 20 th century the great powers were not willing to respect international rules like neutrality or the Geneva Conventions, if this would have had severe consequences for their military strategy. But rules must be obeyed by everybody or they cease to be respected altogether. This is true for nations as well as for individuals. The continuing efforts of the USA to exclude its troops from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice are not an encouraging sign for the 21 st century.

          Switzerland: History

          In 58 BC the Helvetii who inhabited the country (see Helvetia) were conquered by the Romans. Invaded (5th cent. AD) by the Alemanni and by the Burgundii, the area passed to the Franks in the 6th cent. Divided (9th cent.) between Swabia and Transjurane Burgundy, it was united (1033) under the Holy Roman Empire. The expanding feudal houses, notably Zähringen and Kyburg, were supplanted (13th cent.) by the houses of Hapsburg and of Savoy. Hapsburg encroachments on the privileges of the three mountainous localities of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden resulted in the conclusion (1291) of a defensive league among them. The legendary hero of this event is William Tell. The league triumphed at Morgarten (1315) and, joined by Lucerne, Zürich, Zug, Glarus, and Bern, decisively defeated the Hapsburgs at Sempach (1386) and Näfels (1388).

          In the 15th cent. the Swiss league rose to the first rank as a military power. The conquest of Aargau, Thurgau, and the valleys of Ticino, which were ruled as subject territories until 1798, was followed by Swiss victories over Charles the Bold of Burgundy (1476–77) and over Emperor Maximilian I, who in 1499 granted Switzerland virtual independence. By 1513, the admission to the confederation of Fribourg, Solothurn, Basel, Schaffhausen, and Appenzell had raised the number of cantons to 13, and this number was maintained until 1798. The conquest by Bern of Vaud from Savoy (1536), and close alliances with the Grisons, Geneva, St. Gall, and other towns and regions, further increased the Swiss orbit, but Switzerland's importance as a European power was broken in 1515 when the French defeated the Swiss at Marignano (see also Italian Wars).

          A perpetual alliance with France (1516) and neutrality became the basis of Swiss policy. Swiss mercenaries, however, continued to serve abroad for three centuries (see Swiss Guards). The cantons, loosely bound by a federal diet and by individual treaties and often torn by internal feuds, were seriously split by the Reformation, preached by Zwingli at Zürich and by Calvin at Geneva. The Catholics, led by the Four Forest Cantons, defeated the Protestants in battle the Treaty of Kappel (1531) preserved Catholicism in Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, Fribourg, and Solothurn. National unity almost disappeared for more than two centuries, but religious divisions did not prevent the Swiss (except the Grisons) from remaining neutral throughout the Thirty Years War. Switzerland was an island of prosperity when, in 1648, at the end of the war, its formal independence was recognized in the Peace of Westphalia.

          In the following century and a half, government in many cantons became the exclusive business of a small oligarchy. While Switzerland became insignificant politically in the 18th cent., its wealth steadily increased, and its scientists and writers (von Haller, von Mühler, Pestalozzi, Rousseau) made it an intellectual center. The Swiss oligarchies strongly opposed the French Revolution. Invading French armies established the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) and in 1799 clashed with Austrian and Russian forces. Napoleon's Act of Mediation (1803) partially restored the old confederation, and, at the Congress of Vienna, the Pact of Restoration (1815) substantially reestablished the old regime, except that the confirmation of nine new cantons brought the total to its present number.

          By the Treaty of Paris (1815), Swiss neutrality was guaranteed for all time. A subsequent economic depression, which caused large-scale emigration to North and South America, and generally reactionary rule contributed to widely successful demands for revision of the cantonal constitutions and the rise of the Radical party, which favored greater centralization. Opposition to centralization centered in the Catholic rural cantons, which in 1845 formed the Sonderbund, a defensive alliance. After a brief and almost bloodless civil war (1847) the victorious Radicals transformed the confederation into one federal state under a new constitution adopted in 1848 (and recast in 1874). National unity grew, and much socialist legislation (such as railroad nationalization and social insurance) was enacted.

          Armed neutrality was maintained throughout World Wars I and II. Switzerland was a member of the League of Nations, and although it has long participated in many activities of the United Nations, it did not become a UN member until 2002 for fear that its neutrality would be compromised. From 1959 Switzerland was governed by a four-party coalition that began as a center-right coalition and subsequently became a broader grouping. Also in 1959 Switzerland became a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1972 it signed an industrial free-trade agreement with the European Community (EC since 1993 the European Union).

          In the 1950s, French-speaking inhabitants of the Jura region of Bern canton unsuccessfully demanded, with some violence, the creation of a Jura canton. In 1977 a constitution was accepted, and in 1979 it officially became the twenty-third canton of the Swiss Confederation. In 1971, after a referendum was passed by male voters, women were given the right to vote and be elected at the federal level subsequently, Elisabeth Kopp of the Radical Democratic party became the first woman government minister (1984–88).

          In a 1986 plebiscite, a parliamentary proposal to join the United Nations was rejected by Swiss voters. In 1992, Swiss voters also rejected participation in the European Economic Area, an EFTA-EC common market, but did approve joining the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The rejection of the European Economic Area led to negotiations that resulted in a package of accords that established closer economic links with the European Union voters approved the agreements in 2000.

          Following charges that stolen assets deposited in Swiss banks by Nazis during World War II had not been properly returned, the country's two largest banks agreed in 1998 to pay $1.25 billion to the families of Holocaust victims the banks had been facing lawsuits in the United States and were under international political pressure. Ruth Dreifuss, Switzerland's first woman president, served in the annually rotated post during 1999. In elections in 1999, the right-wing, nationalist People's party made sizable gains this was regarded in part as a reaction to international criticism of Switzerland's role in World War II

          Despite the turn to the right, Swiss voters in 2002 approved joining the United Nations, becoming the one of the last nations to seek membership in that organization (only Vatican City is not a member). In the 2003 and 2007 elections the People's party made further gains, becoming the largest party in the national council. In 2011 the People's party again won the largest share of the vote, but it was less than in 2007. A referendum to limit immigration, which was championed by the People's party, passed by a slim margin in 2014. The implications of the referendum, which required the government to impose limits on immigration and foreigners in the workforce, were unclear, but restrictions on free movement between Switzerland and the European Union would contravene a 2000 agreement, and under the 2000 accords the termination of one agreement could render all the accords null and void.

          The 2015 national council elections again saw the People's party win the largest share of the vote, this time exceeding its 2007 share. In 2016 the Swiss government, in response to the immigration referendum, passed a law that required employers to give residents priority when filling jobs. In 2018 Swiss voters rejected a proposal, supported by the People's party, that would have given the Swiss constitution precedence over any conflicting international agreement. The People's party lost seats but remained the largest party after elections in 2019 two Green parties made the largest gains.

          The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

          See more Encyclopedia articles on: Swiss Political Geography

          On This Day: February 13

          On Feb. 13, 1935, a jury in Flemington, N.J., found Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty of first-degree murder in the kidnap-death of the infant son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. Hauptmann was later executed.

          On Feb. 13, 1910, William Shockley, the controversial Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose work led to the miniaturization of radio, TV and computer circuits, was born. Following his death on Aug. 12, 1989, his obituary appeared in The Times.

          On This Date

          1542 The fifth wife of England&aposs King Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, was executed for adultery.
          1635 The Boston Public Latin School, the first public school in what is now the United States, was founded.
          1914 The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers was founded in New York City.
          1920 The League of Nations recognized the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.
          1945 Allied planes began bombing the German city of Dresden during World War II.
          1960 France exploded its first atomic bomb.
          1984 Konstantin Chernenko succeeded the late Yuri Andropov as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party&aposs Central Committee.
          1991 During Operation Desert Storm, allied warplanes destroyed an underground shelter in Baghdad that had been identified as a military command center Iraqi officials said 500 civilians were killed.
          1997 The Dow Jones industrial average broke through the 7,000 barrier for the first time, closing at 7,022.44.
          2000 Charles Schulz&aposs final "Peanuts" comic strip ran in Sunday newspapers, the day after the cartoonist died at age 77.
          2002 John Walker Lindh pleaded not guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to conspiring to kill Americans and supporting the Taliban and terrorist organizations. (Lindh later pleaded guilty to lesser offenses and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.).
          2005 Ray Charles won eight posthumous Grammy awards for his final album, "Genius Loves Company."
          2008 Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens denied having taken performance-enhancing drugs in testimony before Congress.
          2011 Egypt&aposs military leaders dissolved parliament, suspended the constitution and promised elections in moves cautiously welcomed by protesters who&aposd helped topple President Hosni Mubarak.
          2012 Washington became the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.

          Historic Birthdays

          William Shockley 2/13/1910 - 8/12/1989 American engineer, teacher and Nobel Prize-winner.Go to obituary »

          Switzerland has not fought in a military war for a very long time. To be more exact, Switzerland has not been part of any war in 500 years. In 1815, it declared a state of neutrality, where Switzerland proclaimed that it would remain neutral in any future armed conflicts between states. In 1920, the League of Nations formally accepted Switzerland’s self-imposed neutrality. With this, Switzerland and its flag became a symbol of peace, security, and equality for human lives.

          The Swiss flag is protected by Swiss law. Using the flag for commercial and personal use is punishable by either a fine or even jail time, depending on the offense.

          A country’s flag represents a vital part of its history and its people, so it’s no surprise that after the long and meaningful history of the Swiss flag, it’s fiercely protected. Now that you’ve gone back in time, you’ll be aware of the flag’s importance when you visit Switzerland, you’ll be able to make the distinction between the Swiss flag and the Red Cross, plus you can wow your friends with your extensive knowledge of the Swiss flag history.

          Watch the video: Why Is Switzerland Always Neutral? (January 2022).