In January 1918, Woodrow Wilson, President of the USA, outlined, in his speech to the congress, the ‘fourteen points’ that were essential in maintenance of world peace.
Among these were three great principles that formed the basis of world peace namely;
Self-determination of all peoples, i.e, the right of peoples all over the world to determine their own fate.
The need to make public all diplomatic and international agreements.
The need to establish a League of Nations which would provide an avenue for discussing all international problems, protect small states from aggression by large ones.
In January 1919, statesmen from the 27 Allied powers converged at Paris, France to determine the fate of the defeated central powers. The central powers were not party to the discussions but were required to sign on the final draft. The Key personalities at the conference were;
Lloyd George( PM of Britain)
George Clemenceau (PM of France)
Woodrow Wilson (President of USA)
Vittorio Orlando (PM of Italy)
Five treaties were signed with each of the central powers separately as follows;
The Treaty of Versailles with Germany (28th June 1919)
Treaty of St. Germaine with Austria (10th September 1919)
Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria (27th November 1919)
Treaty of Trianon with Hungary (4th June 1920)
Treaty of Sevres in 1920 and Lausanne in 1923 with Turkey.
The Treaty of Versailles.
It should be noted that all the above treaties were generally referred to as the Treaty of Versailles.
Terms of the Versailles Treaty of 1919.
The treaty declared Germany an aggressor who was supposed to pay reparations and whose military capability was to be reduced.
She lost all her colonial passions with the African colonies being taken from her and put under supervision of the League of Nations.
The treaty of St. Germaine provided for the creation of Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Malta as mandated territories.
Germany was totally disarmed and only allowed to retain a force of 100,000 soldiers and her navy was disbanded. Military conscription was banned in Germany.
Germany’s population and size was reduced as Austria, with a large German population was allowed to remain independent. Italy acquired Stria, the Italian-speaking region of Austria.
Rhineland was to be permanently demilitarized. Germany troops were not allowed in the region.
By the treaty of Versailles, Germany lost the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to France.
The treaty established the League of Nation.
Failures of the treaty of Versailles.
The treaty handed Germany a heavy punishment as if she was the only one to blame for World War 1. This provoked deep resentment and bitterness among the German nationals.
The treaty ignored the interests of the colonial people. The former colonial possessions of Germany and turkey were handed over to France and Britain in total disregard to the African grievances during the Versailles conference.
The treaty failed to carter for the interests of the minority in Europe. The new republic of Austria was forbidden from merging with Germany though a national vote was for the merger.
Italy was given a raw deal in the settlement. She was only given Stria, an Italian-speaking region formerly belonging to Austria.
Though the treaty proposal for the formation of the League of Nations came from the USA president Wilson, the US constitution prohibited commitment to such an Organization, whose membership required a nation to help a future victim of aggression,.
RESULTS OF WORLD WAR I
Nationalist movements in Asia and Africa grew in strength and number after the war and a sense of patriotism arose.
USA gained an upper hand in the post war European affairs. She emerged as a leading world power.
German military capability was reduced on land and sea and heavy indemnity imposed on her. She lost all her colonies, which were made mandated territories of the League of Nations.
The end of the war marked the beginning of the decline of western imperialism. As early as 1920, there was a possibility of independence for colonial countries. The war encouraged imperial powers to give more freedom to their subjects.
The end of the war witnessed the creation of new states e.g. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Finland.
Germany and Italy fell in the hands of dictators e.g. Mussolini and Hitler.
The war Created bitter feelings and mistrust among the countries that fought in the war. This continued until the outbreak of the Second World War.
It led to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia as radicals took over government there.
It led to a change of government in Britain.
There was greater use of motor vehicles and aircraft, which facilitated transport.
The art of surgery improved.
Between 1914 and 1918, European factories were destroyed and business brought down hence heavy losses.
There was massive destruction of property and infrastructure.
It led to the great depression 1920 to 1921, which affected economies worldwide.
It led to increased taxation by he colonial authorities to meet war and post-war demands.
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
Origin and organization of the League of Nations.
The League of Nations was established by the victors of the First World War in 1920 at the treaty of Versailles with the main aim of preventing the occurrence of another war.
The idea of its formation was mooted by Woodrow Wilson, the US president who was supported by Lord Robert Cecil of Britain, Jan Smuts of South Africa and Leon Bourgeois of France.
The League of Nation came into force during the first meeting in London Britain, on 10th January 1920.
Reasons for the formation of the League of Nations in 1920.
It was formed for the Maintenance of world peace / It was specifically created to prevent the outbreak of another world war
The League of Nations was meant to foster international cooperation in solving problems as they arise.
It was formed to jointly take instant action against an agreed aggressor by economic and possibly by military means.
Members were to secure and maintain fair and humane conditions of labour as one way of maintaining peace in the world.
It was formed to oversee development of territories lost to central powers during the First World War. E.g. Tanganyika, Togo, South West Africa etc.
The main organs of the League of Nations were;
It was made up of permanent and Non-permanent members. The permanent members were France, Britain, Italy and Japan. Non permanent members were four, elected by the general assembly.
The main role of the council which sat in Geneva was to appoint committees and secretary General with the approval of the majority of the Assembly. It also dealt with disputes amongst member states, reduction of armament, execution of arbitral awards and admittance and expulsion of members.
It met once a year at Geneva and was comprised of three delegates from each member state. It elected non-permanent members to the council. The functions of the Assembly included;
Control of the Budget of the organization (including contributions and expenditure).
Admission of new members after approval of a two-thirds majority.
Appointment of non-permanent members of the League of Nations Council.
Consideration of treaties.
Supervision of the work of the League of Nations council.
Appointment of the 15 judges of the permanent Court of International Justice.
Giving approval to the appointment of Secretary-General.
The Secretariat, based in Geneva, consisted of the secretary general and his staff. It was the administrative body of the League of Nations. It kept records of the organization and conducted correspondences including treaties by member states. It implemented thedecisions of the League of Nations. It provided continuity between one meeting of the council or the assembly and the next,
The International Court of Justice.
Set up between 1920 and 1922, it comprised of eleven judges and four deputy judges elected for nine years by the assembly and the council. It was based at the Hague-Holland. Decisions made by the court were binding on all parties in dispute.
International Labour Organization.
It consisted of 4 delegates- two for member states and two for workers from each member state. Its main aim was to maintain good working conditions for men, women and children.
The Mandates Commission.
It had then responsibility of supervising the administration of the trustee colonies. The League of Nations also had several specialized agencies.
Achievements of the League of Nations.
The League of Nations, through the Permanent Court of International Justice, maintained international peace and security. E.g. in the city of Danzig in spite of the hostility between the poles and the Germans.
The League of Nations achieved its objective of treating the minority with humane. The International Office for Refugees, for example, assisted refugees. Victims of the Nazi persecutions were also assisted.
The league assisted in the administration of the trust territories, through the Mandates Commission. E.g. in Togo, Tanganyika Cameroon and Rwanda-urundi. In addition, the territories acquired from turkey. E.g. Iraq and Palestine.
The league was able to solve several interstate disputes in a peaceful manner. E.g the frontier dispute between turkey and Iraq over the Mosul province (1924-1926), the dispute between Poland and Germany over northern Silesia.
The league successfully restored financial stability in Austria following the economic slump in the country after the World War 1.
It successfully enforced control over the manufacture and sale of arms. It also held disarmament meetings.
The league ensured signing of peace treaties to promote security in the world. For example, the Locarno treaties of 1925 that settled boundary disputes between Germany and France.
Failures of the League of Nations.
The League of Nations failed its Prime objective of maintaining world peace in the following ways;
It failed to solve the Sino-Japanese dispute after Japan invaded Manchuria in China in 1931. Japan after refusing to abide by the League’s demands that it withdraws from the Chinese territory, even pulled out of the league in 1933.
The Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Benito Mussolini, rather than accept the League’s verdict that he withdraws Italian troops from Ethiopia, pulled out of the League.
The League failed to stop German Violation of the terms of the Versailles Treaty. She embarked on a remilitarization programme and established a navy and an airbase.
Nations continued to make many defensive pacts in total disregard of the Treaty of Versailles.
Germany invaded other regions such as Poland and Austria between 1936 and 1939, while Russia invaded Finland in 1939 in violation of the League of Nations.
Factors that undermined the effectiveness of the League of Nations.
Member countries were not willing to take disputes to the international court of justice.
German was still determined to increase its military strength and continue with its aggression policy.
Individual nations were more preoccupied with national interests and pride, at the expense of the organization’s interests.
The Versailles peace settlement resolutions were too harsh to Germany thus leaving the Germans aggrieved and refuse to cooperate with the League of Nations.
The League of Nations lacked the executive authority to implement its resolutions.
USA congress refused to ratify the treaty of the League of Nations. This denied the organization diplomatic and economic strength.
There was shortage of funds to implement the functions of the League of Nations.
The Appeasement Policy of Britain and France forced them to stand aside and avoid taking a firm action against Japan when she invaded china, Germany when she invaded and occupied Rhineland, and Italy when she attacked Ethiopia.
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