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Covenant of the League of Nations

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Title: Covenant of the League of Nations  
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Subject: League of Nations, Lausanne Conference of 1932, British Mandate for Palestine (legal instrument), United Nations Charter, Treaty series
Collection: League of Nations, League of Nations Treaties, Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Treaties Concluded in 1919, Treaties Entered Into Force in 1920, Treaties Establishing Intergovernmental Organizations, Treaties of Argentina, Treaties of Australia, Treaties of Belgium, Treaties of Bolivia, Treaties of British India, Treaties of Canada, Treaties of Chile, Treaties of Colombia, Treaties of Costa Rica, Treaties of Cuba, Treaties of Czechoslovakia, Treaties of Denmark, Treaties of Ecuador, Treaties of El Salvador, Treaties of Estonia, Treaties of Finland, Treaties of Haiti, Treaties of Honduras, Treaties of Latvia, Treaties of Liberia, Treaties of Lithuania, Treaties of Luxembourg, Treaties of Mexico, Treaties of Nicaragua, Treaties of Norway, Treaties of Panama, Treaties of Paraguay, Treaties of Peru, Treaties of Spain Under the Restoration, Treaties of Sweden, Treaties of Switzerland, Treaties of Thailand, Treaties of the Dominican Republic, Treaties of the Empire of Japan, Treaties of the Ethiopian Empire, Treaties of the First Austrian Republic, Treaties of the First Brazilian Republic, Treaties of the French Third Republic, Treaties of the Irish Free State, Treaties of the Kingdom of Afghanistan, Treaties of the Kingdom of Bulgaria, Treaties of the Kingdom of Egypt, Treaties of the Kingdom of Hungary (1920–46), Treaties of the Kingdom of Iraq, Treaties of the Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946), Treaties of the Kingdom of Romania, Treaties of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Treaties of the Netherlands, Treaties of the Portuguese First Republic, Treaties of the Principality of Albania, Treaties of the Qajar Dynasty, Treaties of the Republic of China (1912–49), Treaties of the Second Polish Republic, Treaties of the Soviet Union, Treaties of the Union of South Africa, Treaties of the United Kingdom (1801–1922), Treaties of the Weimar Republic, Treaties of Turkey, Treaties of Uruguay, Treaties of Venezuela
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Covenant of the League of Nations

Covenant of the League of Nations
Signed 28 June 1919
Location Paris Peace Conference
Effective 10 January 1920
Parties League of Nations members
Depositary League of Nations
Covenant of the League of Nations at Wikisource

The Covenant of the League of Nations was the charter of the League of Nations.


  • Creation 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Early drafts for a possible League of Nations began even before the end of the U.S. President William Howard Taft.[1] In December 1916, Lord Robert Cecil suggested that an official committee be set up to draft a covenant for a future league. 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.[1] U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was not impressed with the Phillimore Committee's report, and would eventually produce three draft covenants of his own with help from his friend Colonel House. Further suggestions were made by Jan Christiaan Smuts in December 1918.[1]

At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, a commission was appointed to agree on a covenant. Members included Woodrow Wilson (as chair), Colonel House (representing the U.S.), Robert Cecil and Jan Smuts (British Empire), Léon Bourgeois and Ferdinand Larnaude (France), Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando and Vittorio Scialoja (Italy), Foreign Minister Makino Nobuaki and Chinda Sutemi (Japan), Paul Hymans (Belgium), Epitácio Pessoa (Brazil), Wellington Koo (China), Jayme Batalha Reis (Portugal), and Milenko Radomar Vesnitch (Serbia).[2] Further representatives of Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland and Romania were later added. The group considered a preliminary draft co-written by Hurst and President Wilson's adviser David Hunter Miller. The group met on ten occasions, and by 11 April 1919, the Hurst-Miller draft was approved with only a few changes.[1]

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.[1] The Executive Council would create a Permanent Court of International Justice to make judgements on the disputes.

Major objections came from France and Japan. France wanted the League to form an international army to enforce its decisions, but the British worried such an army would be dominated by the French, and the Americans could not agree since only Congress could declare war.[1] Makino and Chinda requested that a clause upholding the principle of racial equality should be inserted, parallel to the existing religious equality clause. This was deeply opposed, particularly by Americans, and Wilson simply ignored the question. While Wilson was away, a vote on a similar motion (supporting "equality of nations and the just treatment of their nationals") was supported by 11 of 19 delegates, but Wilson declared that "serious objections" by other delegates negated the majority vote, and the amendment was dismissed.[1]

The treaty entered into force on 10 January 1920. Articles 4, 6, 12, 13, and 15 were amended in 1924. The treaty shares similar provisions and structures with the UN Charter.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Northedge, F. S. (1986). The League of Nations: Its life and times, 1920–1946.  
  2. ^ Commission de la Société des Nations, Procès-verbal N° 1, Séance du 3 février 1919, 1919-02-03, retrieved 2014-01-05 
  3. ^ League of Nations Covenant and United Nations Charter: A Side-by-Side (Full Text) Comparison by Walter Dorn

External links

  • The Covenant of the League of Nations from the Yale Avalon Project
  • Primary Documents: Covenant of the League of Nations, 1919–24 from
  • Northedge, F.S. (1986). The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920–1946. New York: Holmes & Meier.  
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