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Compare Woodrow Wilson’s Vision for the League of Nations with the Working of United Nation Today.

In: Social Issues

Submitted By yamawida
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Introduction:
Woodrow Wilson was the president of the United States of America – USA from 1912 through the first world war – WW1. At the end of the war in 1918, he distinguished himself as the greatest political figure in the international arena with his vision for strong international peace body which he elaborated in his fourteen points speech. (UNOG, Online: 2009)
The fourteenth point of his speech was the formation on League of Nations which will usher in justice, peace, freedom and concord. The major participants in the formation of the league of the nation were the Great Britain, France, and the United States of America to preserve the future global peace and forestall such conflicts like first world war. (University of Virginia, Online: 2009)The League was based on the covenant which was written into the Treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties and provided for an assembly, a council and a secretariat with each section vested with a task to help the league maintain peace (UNOG, Online: 2009)
Franklin D. Roosevelt the President of the United States of America, Winston Churchill the Prime Minister of the Great Britain and other notable leaders reasoned that the destructive consequences of WW2 warranted the call to form an international organization which would play a vital role in achieving the global peace. (US Department of States, Online:2005 and National Archives, Online: 2009) Hence, the United Nations replaced the League of the Nations after the demise of the latter. They both shared almost similar concept and ideological views for international peace delivered through an international body. (Rit, 2009)
In this essay the author will analyze the birth of League of Nations and its achievement and failures. Furthermore, the formation of the United Nations and the relationship between President Woodrow Wilson league of nation and the Untied Nation will also be evaluated.
After the first world war, the US President Woodrow Wilson initiated a fair peace settlement which he considered vital to promote “peace without victory”. (University of Virginia, Online: 2009) The drafting of the covenant was the handiwork of President Woodrow Wilson. The covenant as contained in the League of Nations was to preserve future global peace with specific tasks of disarmament around the globe, stop inter-nation conflicts and promote principles of justice and democracy.

In contrast to realist, President Woodrow Wilson was an idealist that sue for peace through the establishment of an international body. The league of Nations was to be a multinational membership origination for the purpose of collective security in the world. Countries were forbidden to carry out aggressive behavior against each other. Preservation of neighbors territorial integrity was also paramount. For the leagues to be effective it was divided in two three sub sections. There are the council, the assembly and the secretariat. (UNOG, Online: 2009)
The council comprised of the four most powerful countries without presence of United States, such as France, the Great Britain, Italy and Japan. (UNOG, Online: 2009) Aforementioned powerful countries were the head of the leagues and exercised the most powers. They carried out such task as treaties and other laws that was applicable to the global peace. However, the United States of America refused to join and never joined even though the organization was the brainchild of US president Woodrow Wilson. (Rit, 2009) President Woodrow Wilson had fought hard to have the treaty accepted as it was, without revision, but despite his efforts, the treaty was never ratified by the Senate. It became a party issue with democrats supporting the treaty and enough republicans vetoing it so that it was not passed. Also another group did not want America to become involved in European Affairs that entailed risk of violence. In other words, they did not want the country making a commitment to help enforce certain provisions in the treaty. This group of Senators refused to have American representation on the German-Belgium Boundary Commission (Margulies, 1998). Other reasons for this line of action was American bad experience during the war because they have suffered casualties in the war and secondly wanted to focus on rebuilding of shattered economy due to the effect of the war. (Wilson and the League of Nation, Online: 2009) The assembly was made up of forty five members state who meet once in a year in Geneva. The little issues affecting the organizations and the global world were brought to the attention of the assembly. (Michael, Online: 2009)
The secretariat was in charge of the administrative affairs of the league. Furthermore, it “was given the task of working out the methodology of international cooperation” (UNOG, Online: 2009)
The league had a collective security policy to punish any intransigent countries that broke the treaty of the league. First and foremost they will negotiate to settle the problems before any necessary action could happen. The use of sanctions and trade embargo will be applied as the last resort.
President Woodrow Wilson League of Nations were followed by successes and failures for this course of action. The League of Nations did not have a standing army of its own, but could prevent conflicts and disputes in the 1920s. (Michael, Online: 2009) Furthermore it was through the Leagues efforts that the refugees and former prisoners of war returned to their motherlands during the war. It was estimated that about four hundred thousand prisoners returned home in the first year of the war. The 1922 refugee crisis in turkey was another achievement of League of nation. The League embarked on a campaign to stamp out deadly illness like Cholera, leprosy, smallpox and dysentery in the refugee campus which housed thousands of people. The head committee section of the league embarked on worldwide campaign to reduce the cases of yellow and malaria fever. (League of Nations, Online: 2009) The league also mediated in the boundary disputes between Germany and Poland in the fair and objective manner. Establishment of International court of justice was also another success of the League. (UNOG, Online: 2009)
Regardless the Leagues many successes in 1920s, but it also it failed to address some extremely important issues in the 1930s. The 1929 economic depression as a result of the Wall Street Crash did not help the leagues cause. Lack of standing armies could be other reason while the league failed. The league did not have solid backing to support its decision beside the use of sanctions. The outbreak of the second world war in 1939 spell demise of the President Woodrow Wilson vision of the league of nations.
During WW2, President Franklin D. Roosevelt government worked on diplomacy for an organization to succeed the League of Nations and which would be established after the war. There was a foundation for considering a new institution that would promote worldwide peace.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had brought the issue of collective security as the way to best protect domestic security during his campaign. He continually talked about the practical necessity for such an international institution. He also said it was unfair for one or two disorder nations to obstruct the will of the other majority of nations. It was a direct reference to the US senate blocking the League of Nations. President Franklin D. Roosevelt also held discussions with the leaders of the most powerful nations to discuss a post-war international institution that would basically "police" the world (Schild, 1995).
At the same time, State Department planners were discussing a type of international order under which independent nations would cooperate. The Department drafted numerous studies regarding the League's inability to prevent aggressions and concluded that there was a conflict between the interests of member states and the League. The State Department also devised plans for a postwar political and economic world order that would not rely on the domination of the world's great powers. Instead, it was to be a universal organization (Schild, 1995).
The State Department released its plan in August 1943. It was called a "Tentative Draft Text of the Charter of the United Nations." This document subsequently served as the foundation for the United Nations proposals. It included a Council within the Assembly to authorize the use of force against any nation (Schild, 1995).
The UN was formed at Dumbarton Oaks & San Francisco. (UN, Online:2000) The United Nation consists of independent sovereign states that contribute national military contingents when called upon by the Security Council. The UN charter has so many same central features as the League of Nations Covenant. ( US Department of State, Online: 2005)There is a General Assembly with a universal membership and with its core members. There are also differences, such as the fact that the Security Council has become the dominant tool of the UN. The Council was only able to present its’ findings to League Assembly whereas, the United Nations Security Council has the autonomy and the power to authorize force in opposition to provokers.

It has done so successfully numerous times. There are eleven states represented in the Security Council. There are nearly 200 in the Assembly. Thus, the eleven states have an enormous amount of power. Another major difference in between both is that the Security Council has nearly eliminated the veto. Under the League Covenant, any state could block League actions where as, under the UN Charter, only its five permanent security council members (USA, Britain, China, Russia and France) has the right to veto.
In summarizing, President Woodrow Wilson founded the league of nations with fundamental purpose to make sure that no nation state go to war one against another. The League would be in charge to decide in the international differences and promote cooperation among states and to sustain global peace. It was also to promote and unite forces for the betterment of future generation to live in a world free from war and aggressions. Although the league recorded more failures than successes, for example the outbreak of ww2 nevertheless, the legacy left behind has continued to live on – that conflict and misunderstandings could be resolved in a peaceful and diplomatic way rather than realist approach of going to war. The working of United Nations today is a stepping stone to the foundation laid down by the founder of the league of nations that is, President Woodrow Wilson who stated in his speech in 1999 “unless you get the united, concerted purpose and power of the great governments of the world behind you, it will fall down like a house of cards” (Michael, 2009). It is now realized that his ideas and his notions lives on.

Schild, G. (1995) The Roosevelt administration and the United Nations: re-creation or rejection of the League experience? World Affairs. 158(1). pp. 26 – 29

Rit, N. (2009) The United Nation. Trace today's influence of the United Nations from the idea of the League of Nations. [WWW] Available from: http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t0w33league_un.htm [Accessed 02/12/2009]

Michael, D. (2009) President Woodrow Wilson's Address in Favor of the League of Nations, 25 September 1919. [WWW] Available from: http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/wilsonspeech_league.htm [Accessed Date: 08/December/2009]

University of Virginia (2009) Woodrow Willsion(1856-1924). [WWW] Available from: http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/wilson/essays/biography/5 [Accessed : 02/12/ 2009)
UNOG (2009) The foundation of league of nation. [WWW] Available form: http://www.unog.ch/80256EE60057D930/(httpPages)/84C4520213F947DDC1256F32002E23DB?OpenDocument [ Accessed: 02/12/2009)

National Archive(2009) Teaching With Documents: Documents Related to Churchill and FD.R [WWW] Available from: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/fdr-churchill/ [Accessed: 02/12/2009]
Wilson and the League of Nations (2009) United States’ Rejection of the Leauge. [WWW] Available from: http://www.san.beck.org/GPJ21-LeagueofNations.html#4 [ Accessed: 02/12/2009]

League of Nations (2009) The Social Success of League of Nations [WWW] Available from: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/leagueofnations.htm [Accessed: 02/12/2009]

Margulies, F. (1998) The moderates in the League of Nations battle: an overlooked faction. The Historian. 60(2).pp. 3-15

UN (2000) History of United Nation. [WWW] Available from : http://www.un.org/aboutun/history.htm[ Accessed: 03/12/2009]
US Department of State (2005) The United States and the Founding of the United Nations, August 1941 - October 1945. [WWW] Available from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/pubs/fs/55407.htm. [Accessed: 03/12/2009]

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