Back   The League's successes and failures in peacekeeping during the 1920s

Six Successes of the League in the 1920s  



1.   Teschen, 1920

In 1919, Poland and Czechoslovakia fought over this area, which was rich in coal; in 1920 the League arbitrated on the dispute, splitting the area between the two countries. Although neither country was happy about the decision, they accepted it and stopped the fighting.

2.   Aaland Islands, 1921 

The League settled a dispute between Sweden and Finland after an investigation it said that the islands should belong to Finland; Sweden and Finland agreed.

3.   Silesia, 1921

The League settled a dispute between Germany and Poland it held a plebiscite and suggested a partition; Germany and Poland agreed.

4.   Iraq, 1924  

The Turks demanded Mosul, a part of Iraq (a British mandate). The League supported Iraq; Turkey agreed.   

(Interesting fact: in 1992, the people of Mosul, who were being persecuted by Saddam Hussein, went to the United Nations and cited League of Nations documents which guaranteed them minority rights in 1924, when the League gave Mosul to Iraq.   The incident may have been a success for the League, but it was a disaster for the Kurds who lived there.)

5.   Bulgaria, 1925

Greece invaded Bulgaria, which did not fight back, but appealed to the League. The League ordered Greece to withdraw, which it did.

6.   Other


400,000 Prisoners of War repatriated


Turkish refugee camps helped (1922)


Work against leprosy (extermination of mosquitoes)


Drugs companies blacklisted


Attacks on slave owners in Sierra Leone and Burma


Economic advice to Austria (1922) and Hungary (1923)


The Permanent Court of International Justice




Six Failures of the League in the 1920s  



1.   Vilna, 1920

The Poles captured Vilna (the capital of Lithuania). The League ordered Poland to withdraw, though Britain and France supported Poland. Poland refused. The League could do nothing.

2.   Invasion of the Ruhr, 1923

France invaded the Ruhr when the Germans did not pay reparations; the League was not even consulted, and Britain disagreed.

3.   Memel, 1923

Lithuania seized Memel, a German port under League control. The League told Lithuania to leave, but the Conference of Ambassadors gave Memel to Lithuania.

4.   Corfu, 1923

An Italian general named Tellini was murdered in Greece, so Italy occupied Corfu. Greece appealed to the League for help, which ordered Mussolini to leave but the Conference of Ambassadors overruled the League and forced Greece to pay compensation to Italy.

5.   Other Treaties

It is a sign that most countries relied, not on the League, but on separate treaties to keep them safe:


Washington Treaty, 1921   (naval agreement between USA, Britain and Japan)


Dawes Plan, 1924   (to sort out reparations)


Locarno Pact, 1925    (to defend Versailles Treaty)

The Geneva Protocol, 1925  (a mutual promise not to use poison gas or germ warfare - failed because Britain changed its mind at the last minute and refused to sign it!   The USA and Japan also refused to sign.)   

6.   Bolivia, 1928

In South America, Bolivia and Paraguay went to war over an area of land called the Chaco.  Paraguay appealed to the League of Nations, but the League was unable to help because Bolivia refused to agree (in the end, the dispute was solved with the help of other South American countries).