Nature of International Associations of States

When two or more states have interests in common, they may join in some form of the international association for joint regulation of their common interests. If informing the union, the states give up their sovereignty and external independence to such an extent that they cease to the states; the result is not an association of states but a new state. Associations of states consist of members who retain a sufficient degree of independence to continue to the state after the union is formed. The union itself does not constitute a state. The usual method of forming international associations is by treaty agreement on the part of the states concerned.

1. Unequal and equal  Associations of States

Various methods of classifying international associations have been suggested. A distinction may be made between those international associations based on the principle of equality and those based on the principle of oi inequality. In the former case, the association is voluntary on all its members and is expected to be of advantage to all. The members have equal voices in determining the policies of the union. In the latter case, the association involves superior to inferior, the arrangement is to a greater or less extent enforced on the weaker member or members, and the advantages of the union accrue mainly to the superior, which dominates the policy of the union. These two types of association shade off into one another, the degree of equality or inequality on the part of the members showing considerable variation. In the case of associations based on inequality, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether the inferior member retains its statehood or becomes a stronger power dependency. If the latter point is reached, the arrangement ceases to be an association of states, the weaker member becoming a part of the superior’s state system.

2. Unorganized and organized.

A useful distinction may be made between unorganized and organized associations. In the former, no common governmental organization is created for the union, such action as is needed to be taken by the regular governments of the separate members. The only bond holding an unorganized association together is the treaty agreement entered into by the states that compose it. In an organized association, not only are the members bound together in a judicial system by treaty agreements, but they have also established certain common central organs of government, distinct from the governments of the separate members to formulate the will of the union or administer the functions for which the union was created.

However, the governmental organs of the association derive their authority from the separate states composing the union. They do not determine their own competence, nor may they exercise authority not specifically delegated. Sovereignty remains in the members of the association. They may widen or narrow the powers of the governmental bodies set up for the union, may destroy them if they see fit, or may withdraw from membership in the association’s unorganized Unions. Associations of states lacking any common governmental organization take various forms. In the broadest sense, every treaty agreement entered into among states creates an international association. In a narrower sense, the term may be limited to those agreements by which certain more definite and permanent relationships are established between two or more states for joint political action, especially with other states.

1. Alliance.

The simplest form of unorganized union consists of alliances, or leagues, formed by states to advance certain common political ends, such as defense against attack, guaranty of particular rights, maintenance of neutrality, and the like. Into such alliances, the members usually enter based on equality, and mutual advantages are expected.

2. Neutralized state.

Another form of unorganized association results when a group of great powers neutralizes a small state. This is accomplished by a treaty agreement among the states concerned, by which the great powers guarantee the independence and territorial integrity of the neutralized state. In return, the neutralized state agrees not to wage war except in self-defense and not enter into any arrangements that might require its participation in a future war or deprive it of its territory. While the neutralized state derives certain advantages from the arrangement, it also suffers certain restrictions upon its complete freedom of external action.

The arrangement is not viewed as one among equals but is, to some extent, imposed upon the neutralized state by the great powers for their own purposes. In 1815 the powers that signed the declaration of Vienna recognized Switzerland’s perpetual neutrality and guaranteed to it the inviolability of its territory. The neutralization of Belgium, first effected in 1831, was confirmed by the Treaty of London in 1839. The signatory powers agreed that Belgium should form an independent and perpetually neutral state and that it should be bound to observe neutrality toward another state.

At the close of the First World War, the King of Belgium declared that Belgium was freed from the obligation of neutrality that had been imposed upon her by the powers, and this demand was recognized in the Treaty of Versailles, which stated that the former arrangement no longer conformed to the requirements of the situation.

3. Protected state.

Various forms of unorganized association between strong and weak states resulted from an arrangement by which the weaker member usually possessed autonomy in managing its internal affairs but was to some degree dependent upon the stronger member in respect to foreign relations. In some cases, this arrangement resulted from a subject province’s gradual emancipation, which passed through a transitional stage of domestic autonomy, subject to the guardianship of the state to which it formerly belonged, before attaining complete independence. In this case, the stronger State was called a suzerain state, and the weaker a vassal state.

This arrangement grew out of the Middle Ages’ feudal system, especially in the relation of the smaller German states to the Holy Roman Empire. More recent examples included the relations of certain Balkan states to Turkey during the nineteenth century and the Transvaal to Great Britain between 1881 and 1899. A protected state differed from a vassal state in that it generally enjoyed a degree of independence before the treaty by which it became a protectorate. Therefore, in theory, its status represented a voluntary act of subordination to the protecting state, rather than a grant of autonomy made by a suzerain to a vassal. The protected state usually surrendered control over its foreign relations while retaining a large measure of freedom in its internal government.

In most cases, the protected state was under the guardianship of a single state, as in Cuba’s relation to the United States. Sometimes several of the great powers jointly acted as the protector, as in Morocco between 1906 and 1911. A unique form of international association exists in the present British Commonwealth of Nations, including Great Britain and the self-governing dominions, which are now practically independent states. They are united by bonds of common interest and by long history and tradition, rather than treaty agreements. An imperial conference is the working bond of union,

Personal and Real Unions.

Personal and real unions have been important forms of international association in the past. Still, they are now of historical interest only since they appeared among states governed by hereditary rulers, and this form of government is rapidly becoming obsolete.

1. Personal union.

A personal union exists when two or more monarchies have the same person as their ruler. This relationship is usually accidental, resulting from royal intermarriages through which, by the laws of succession, the same person becomes heir to the crown in more than one country.

If the laws of succession are identical, such an arrangement continues indefinitely. If the laws of succession differ, the arrangement comes to an end when, according to one state’s law, a person (for example, a woman) becomes ruler of that state who, according to the other’s laws, may be ineligible for the throne. A personal union may also be established by the election by one state of the ruler of another state to be its ruler also. In such a case, the union ends with his death unless renewed by his successor’s election. In a personal union, the states composing it remain separate and independent, each having its distinct political organization and legal system. One member might even go to war with the other, or with an outside power, without affecting the other.

The only bond of union is the common ruler, who possesses two distinct legal personalities, and who may possess widely different powers in the states composing the union depending on their respective constitutions and laws. His acts as ruler of one state have no legal effect in the other. Examples of personal unions include that of Spain and the old German Empire under Charles V of England and Scotland from 1603 to their union in the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, and of Great Britain and Hanover from 1714 to the accession of Queen Victoria to the British throne in 1837 the laws of Hanover not permitting a woman to rule in that country.


2. Real union.

A real union results, not from the accident of inheritance or the temporary union of states under a common ruler, but from a definite and voluntary agreement on the part of two or more states to set up a common monarch and to establish certain governmental arrangements for the regulation of their general interests. It is a special form of confederation, characterized by provisions in the constitutions of the member states that the same person shall act as the representative of the sovereignty of each state, and that this connection shall obtain regardless of who the prescribed qualifications happen to determine that this common ruler shall be.

Each state retains its sovereignty and control over internal affairs, but the member states act as a single international personality for external relations. While a real union may be dissolved by the voluntary action of the states composing it, it possesses greater elements of permanence than a personal union since it is not affected by the death of the reigning sovereign or the extinction of the reigning dynasty. The most important examples of the real union were Norway and Sweden and Austria and Hungary. By treaty agreement in 1815, Norway recognized Sweden’s king as its sovereign and representative in foreign relations. A common diplomatic and consular service under the Swedish foreign minister was established. This union came to an end in 1905, when the two states drew up a permanent separation treaty.

The union of Austria and Hungary was created in 1867 by a compact, adopted in the form of identical statutes passed by the two states’ parliaments. It provided that the emperor of Austria should also be king of Hungary and set up a common legislative body for certain limited purposes, common ministries of war, finance, and foreign affairs: and a common army and diplomatic service. In international relations, the union acted as a unit, but for most internal administration purposes, each state retained its independence. The peace treaties destroyed this union at the close of the First World War. It may be noted that the relation between Great Britain and the self-governing dominions closely approaches the nature of a real union since common allegiance to the Crown is one of the chief bonds that hold the British Commonwealth of Nations together.

International Administrative Unions.

As a result of the increasing interdependence of the various states globally, and to regulate certain private and business interests that affect several countries, there have been formed in recent years what are known as international administrative unions. These are created by treaty agreements among the parties concerned, in some cases including only a few states, in others practically all the civilized nations. Unlike most international associations, they are not intended for defense or government purposes, but the regulation of certain nonpolitical interests and services.

The earliest unions were established for the regulation of international communication. They included commissions to control international rivers’ navigation, such as the Rhine and Danube, and to administer the international postal and telegraph services. Another group is concerned with questions of international health and morals. It includes the International Sanitary Union, the International Office of Public Health, the unions for regulating the opium traffic and the liquor traffic in Africa, and for the suppression of the slave trade and white slave traffic. A group that is growing rapidly in importance is concerned With international economic interests.

It includes the International Metric Union, the Union for the Publication of Customs Tariffs, the International Labor office, the International Sugar Union, and unions to protect literary, artistic, and industrial property. In recent years bureaus have been created to deal with general scientific matters. Such are the International Geodetic Union, the Committee for the Exploration of the Sea, and the Pan-American Scientific Congress. At present, there are more than forty international administrative unions in existence.

The various unions show little uniformity in organization and powers since each was created to fill a particular need. Usually, a permanent administrative bureau or commission is created with headquarters in a city in one of Europe’s small neutral countries. This permanent staff of experts administers the union’s affairs, exercising such powers as are delegated to it in the treaty by which the union was created. From time to time, international conferences are held, composed of delegates from the union members, and these bodies determine the policy of the union and supervise the work of the permanent administrative staff.

The union’s expenses are usually apportioned among its member states in proportion to their size, population, or wealth. In some cases, the bureaus are supported in part by private funds. In addition to serving as a clearinghouse for the exchange of opinions on questions of common interest, the union’s administrative staff performs various services. It collects and distributes information, keeps records, makes recommendations for consideration and action by the member states of the union, and in a few cases determines rules which are accepted as binding by the states concerned.

International administrative unions represent an interesting experiment in international cooperation, forming a partial organization for a world federation’s administrative system. When the League of Nations was formed, its Covenant provided that, with the consent of the states concerned, the existing bureaus, and similar bureaus established in the future, should be placed under the direction of the League.


The most important form of association of states is the confederation. Several states, having interests in common, unite based on equality and set up a central government to delegate certain powers. This common government usually consists of a congress of delegates who represent the states’ governments composing the confederation, and these delegates usually vote by states and under instructions from the governments that they represent. In a confederation, the member states retain their full sovereignty and legal independence, and no new state is created. There is a central government, but no central sovereignty. The central government is, in effect, a branch of the government of each of the associated states, and a delegation from these states obtains its authority. The instrument that creates the confederation and defines the powers of the central government is sometimes called a constitution, but, strictly spat king, It is a compact or treaty among the states and derives its validity from their consent. Since a confederation is not a sovereign state, any member may withdraw from it. Such withdrawal may be a violation of international good faith. It may furnish grounds for complaint on the remaining states, but it is not an illegal or unconstitutional act.

Confederations have been numerous in the historical development of states. The ancient Greek cities formed numerous cone federations, one of which, the Achaean League, closely approached a real federation. The Hanseatic League and the Holy Roman Empire were important confederations in early modern times. More recent examples were the old German Confederation from 1815 to 1866, the Swiss Confederacy from 1815 to 1840, and the American states’ union under the Articles of Confederation from 1781 to 1789. Experience has shown that a confederation is a weak form of organization, representing a transitional stage of political development and showing a tendency toward disintegration or consolidating its members into a single state.

A confederation resembles an alliance in that it is composed of several states united by treaty agreement based on equality and mutual benefit. It differs from an alliance in possessing common organs of government for the union, in the greater extent and variety of purposes for which the union is created, and in the intention of perpetuity. A confederation differs from a personal union. It is formed not as an accidental result of succession laws but by a formal agreement embodied in articles of confederation. Nor does a confederation come to an end as a result of the laws of succession. Confederations are terminated either by dissolution through the member states’ secession or by their fusion into a single sovereign state. A confederation differs from a real union. The bond that holds the members together is not a common monarch but an assembly of delegates selected by the member states. A real union is usually formed because the members have internal interests in common. A confederation is usually formed for defense and generally lacks certain common organs of government characteristic of real unions.

Confederation diners fundamentally from a federation. The former is created by an agreement that is legally an international treaty and rests upon the consent of the member states’ governments. The latter is created by a constitution, which is legally a law, and which rests upon the state’s consent. In a confederation, there are as many sovereignties as there are members. A federation is a single sovereign state. The members of a confederation may legally withdraw from the union. The secession of a member of a federation is an illegal and revolutionary act. The central government of a confederation is created by the member states, which may destroy it and widen or narrow its powers. A constitution creates the central government of a federation. Its powers are defined, and the federal union members cannot destroy the central government or modify its powers except by the legal method of a constitutional amendment. A confederation usually lacks central administrative and judicial organs; hence it cannot act directly upon individuals but must leave its resolutions enforced by the member-member’ separate govern governments upon citizens. Only by using force on the part of the other members may a recalcitrant member of a confederation be compelled to submit to the central authority. In a federation, the central government makes laws within its constitutional powers and enforces them, through its own administrative and judicial machinery, upon all the entire state’s citizens. However, if it chooses, the federation may operate through its individual members or leave to their officials the execution of some of its laws.

The fundamental distinction between a confederation and a federation is the location of sovereignty. Suppose the individual members can determine the extent of their obligations under the articles of union. If their view he not accepted to withdraw from the union then a confederation exists. It is constitutionally provided that the central government cannot destroy the political existence of the union members or interfere with their legal powers and that the members cannot destroy the union or interfere with the legal powers of the central government, then a federation exists. Usually, each member of a confederation remains a separate international person. It may enter into treaty arrangements with other states or even make war without affecting the other confederation members. The war between two members of a confederation would be an international war, not a civil war. However, the union’s pact in a particular confederation might confer the control of war and foreign relations upon the central organ. In such a case, the confederation would possess a limited international law personality, and the member states would be restricted in their international activities as long as they chose to remain in the confederation.

The doctrine of nullification, by which individual members of a union Claim the right to refuse obedience to the laws of the central government in case they consider them inconsistent with the terms of the union, has no place in a federation, where a federal tribunal will determine the constitutionality of federal law. Even in a confederation, nullification cannot be considered a legal right. Since the member states are sovereign, they cannot be compelled to obey the central organ against their will, but the legal remedy would be secession from the union. As long as a member state remains in the confederation, it is bound to observe the general rules, and the assertion by a single member of the right to refuse to obey would disrupt the union. The other confederation members would not consent to the avoidance by one state of the execution of a part of the general law while they held themselves bound by it. The other members of a confederation would be justified in coercing a member who wished to secure the confederation’s benefits without assuming its obligations. Calhoun, who argued that the United States was a confederation, was logically consistent in claiming each state the right of secession, but in denying a single state the right of nullification.

In unification, the alliance, the confederation, the federation, and the alliance state represent successive stages. The alliance and the confederation are similar in that they are international associations formed by treaty agreements and that sovereignty remains in the individual members. They differ in that the alliance lacks a central organ of government, while the confederation possesses such a body. The federation and the unitary state resemble each other and differ from the alliance and the confederation. They are created by constitutions, not by treaties, and that they are single sovereign states instead of states’ associations. The federation differs from the unitary state. The federation members have a constitutional status; hence they cannot be destroyed or their powers altered by the central government. In a unitary state, all the territorial subdivisions are controlled by the central government, which has constitutional status. The subdivisions have only such powers as the central government chooses to give them by its own law. In an alliance, there are as many states, sovereignties, and governments as there are members. There are as many states and sovereignties in a confederation as members and one more government. In a federation, there is a single state and single sovereignty. Still, in a dual constitutional system of government in a unitary state, there is a single state, single sovereignty, and a single constitutional system of government.

The League of Nations.

The ideal of world unity, realized in the Roman Empire and continued during the Middle Ages in the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, was shattered during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by national states’ rise. While the imperial ideal persisted and attempts were made to secure world dominance by strong rulers, such as Charles V of Spain, Louis XIV and Napoleon in France, and the Hohenzollern of Germany, all such attempts failed. Defensive combinations were formed against the ambitious States. The system of alliances was created to maintain the balance of power, that is, to prevent any state from becoming too strong, which characterized the international situation during the past three centuries.

The principle of the balance of power was recognized as the cornerstone of modern international relations in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. It was set forth again and again in numerous later treaties. After the Napoleonic Wars, an attempt was made to distribute the elements of power in Europe to create a condition of equilibrium that should serve as a foundation for peaceful international relations in the future.

The Holy Alliance, created in 1815, paved the way for the concert of Europe, which grew up in the second quarter of the century, in which the great powers of Europe put forward the claim to speak in the name of all Europe. After the middle of the century, the “concert of Europe” began to weaken, mainly because of the growth of national spirit and commercial imperialism. Again, the system of alliances to maintain the balance of power was revived. The breakdown of this system in the First World War led to the first successful attempt at world organization in the League of Nations.

The idea of a world organization is not new. Eminent thinkers have put frequent proposals forward in the past for some form of world association. Some were the utopian dreams of philosophers and pacifists interested in world peace and justice. Among these may be mentioned William Penn’s Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe (1693): the Abbe saint Pierre’s Project for Perpetual Peace (1712),  Kant’s on, Perpetual Peace (1795), and William Ladd’s Essay on a Congress of Nations (1840). Others were intended to aggrandize a particular nation’s power and prestige, such as the Grand Design (1634), attributed by the Duke of Sully to Henry IV.

These early projects were simple and highly unified. They were usually intended to be imposed upon the world by autocratic rulers and maintained by their authority. They made no provision for the different kinds of Work to be done by a world government, and they gave no attention to the need for adjustment as times and circumstances changed. Practical politicians paid little attention to these proposals, and no practical results followed.

Many causes contributed to the world organization’s ideas in recent years, not along the old lines of imperial unity under a single State’s dominance, but rather following the federal principle. The considerable impetus was given to this idea by the successful federal unions formed in America, Germany, and Switzerland; in many ways, the world’s nations were becoming more interdependent. Railways, steamships, telegraph, and cables were knitting the world together, an enormous increase in foreign travel and foreign trade involved numerous treaty regulations among states. Joint action for economic purposes was involved in forming numerous international administrative unions during the second half of the nineteenth century.

The growth of democracy and popular education led to a growing community of intellectual interests and to the formation of what has been called the “international mind.” Many international disputes were settled by arbitration, and the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 not only were great examples of international conferences but made some progress, through the establishment of the Hague Court, in providing a legal means for the settlement of international differences. Finally, in the First World War, the group of nations that composed the Allies was the greatest collection of powers that had ever united in a major undertaking. A widespread public opinion in favor of some form of permanent world association was created. At the close of the war, the old balance of power was destroyed, and the Allies dominated the diplomatic scene. The temporary league formed for war purposes could be utilized as the basis for a permanent world organization.

When the Peace Conference met in 1919, it was felt that one of the principal tasks to be undertaken was the formation of a League of Nations. Plans were submitted by President Wilson, by General Smuts, and by the British and the French government. These four projects formed the basis from which the League’s Covenant was finally created, included in the Treaty of Versailles, and submitted to the nations for ratification.

The League was composed originally of the states, except Germany that had signed the treaty containing the Covenant; at the same time, certain friendly neutral states were invited to join. Membership was left open to all the states of the world, including autonomous colonies.

Admission, however, depended on a two-thirds vote of the state’s already members. At first, power was concentrated in the Allied States’ hands, to the exclusion of Germany, Austria, Russia, and other states that were not trusted by the victors. Later, Germany and Austria were admitted. The refusal of the United States to enter the League weakened it as an ill inclusive international association.

In 1932 the League had fifty-five members, including all the world’s fully independent states except Afghanistan, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt. Costa Rica, Russia, and the United States. Several petty and semi-dependent states had been refused admission because they were not competent to carry out the necessary international obligations.

Membership in the League might be terminated in several ways. A state which refused to accept a duly adopted amendment to the Covenant automatically ceased to be a member. A state that violated the League’s Covenant might be expelled by a unanimous vote of the other member states. The right of Voluntary secession also was recognized. After two years’ notice, any state might withdraw from the League, provided it had fulfilled all its international obligations and its obligations under the Covenant. The withdrawal of several important states marked the decline of the League.

The League of Nations was not a state, nor was it a superstate. It was an organized association of sovereign states, created by treaty, a confederation worldwide in scope. It had a legal personality, owned property, and had a treasury and a budget. But it had no territory, no citizens or subjects, no army, navy, or police. Its organization consisted of an Assembly, a Council, a Secretariat, and various commissions and committees.

The Assembly was composed of representatives from all the member states, each member being permitted to send as many as three delegates. Voting in the Assembly, however, was by states. Each member state has one vote, as the Assembly’s resolution required a unanimous vote of all members present and voting. The Assembly met annually in September and on special occasions when necessary.

Its jurisdiction included any matter within the authority of the League. It supervised the work of the Council, Secretariat, and other administrative bodies determined the budget of the League and elected the judges of the Permanent Court of International Justice and the non-permanent members of the Council. It might hear disputes referred to it and make recommendations on international cooperation and world peace; its powers were mainly advisory. Its chief value was as a forum of international discussion and a clearinghouse of international public opinion.

The Council of the League was originally intended to consist of nine members live of whom Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States, should hold the permanent seats, the remaining four to be selected annually by the Assembly. The refusal of the United States to join the League left a permanent seat vacant, which was given to Germany when she was admitted to the League in 1926. At that time, the Council was enlarged to fourteen members, nine of whom were temporary members elected by the Assembly.

The Council held four regular sessions annually and special sessions when needed. Any member of the League not represented in the Council might send a delegate to its sessions when matters affecting its interests were under discussion. While the principle of equality of states was not recognized in the Council’s organization, it was applied in giving to each member state in the Council one vote and in requiring unanimous consent for its resolutions.

The Council was the most powerful organ of the League. In cases of international dispute, the Council acted as a commission of inquiry and conciliation. It drafted the League’s budget, appointed and supervised various international bureaus and commissions, prepared plans for disarmament, received reports from the states that were given mandates over territory taken from Germany and Turkey, and made recommendations for the use of coercion to protect the Covenant of the League.

The Secretariat was the permanent administrative agency of the League. It consisted of a Secretary-General, appointed by the Council with the approval of a majority of the Assembly, and a considerable technical and clerical staff. It was the duty of this body to make preliminary examination on questions to be taken up by the Council or the Assembly, to keep the records of the League, including registration of all treaties, to supply information to member states concerning the League’s activities, and to distribute to the public accurate information on many phases of international affairs.

In addition to the Assembly, Council, and Secretariat, some special organizations and committees performed numerous functions! One of the most important of these was the International Labor Office, of which all members of the League automatically became members.

This organization aimed to maintain fair labor conditions for men, women, and children and promote workers’ morale and social welfare. It maintained an autonomous organization, including a general conference of members and a secretariat controlled by representatives of governments, employers, and employees. Other auxiliary bodies of the League included technical organizations dealing with finance, health, and transit and advisory committees dealing with military questions, mandates, white slave traffic, opium, and intellectual cooperation. Various other committees were created from time to time for special purposes.

Sometimes these commissions of experts were appointed by the Council of the League, sometimes by the states’ government separately. In many cases, they secured the cooperation of states that were not members of the League.

The Covenant of the League, being a treaty agreement, could be amended effectively only by unanimous consent. Amendments might indeed be adopted by the consent of the powers who at the time had seats on the Council, acting together With a majority of states in the Assembly. Still, dissenting members were not bound by such changes, although, if they persisted in their refusal to agree, they lost membership in the League. This provision gave the great powers on the Council a veto on amendments but made it possible that small powers could be compelled to accept amendments or suffer exclusion from the League.

The league’s ain influence was exerted utilizing indirect control through inquiry, report, mediation, and publicity inmost cases. The voluntary action of the state concerned was necessary before action by the League as possible. However, the League might impose penalties in case of member states disregarded pledges made in the Covenant to respect the territorial integrity and political independence of other members, to refrain from war at the outbreak of an international dispute, and submit the dispute to an inquiry by the Council or arbitration by a court acceptable to both parties, to refrain from war for three months after the report of the Council or the award of the court, or at least not to go to war either to enforce a demand against which the report of the Council was unanimous, the parties to the dispute excepted, or to enforce a demand in opposition to the arbitral award. Penalties included the severance of commercial and financial intercourse and eventually military coercion if the other members were willing to exercise such power on the advice of the Council.

The Permanent Court of International Justice.

The Covenant of the League authorized the Council to formulate plans for a Permanent Court of International Justice. This provision was included at the neutral nations and those who wished to carry further the work of the Hague Conferences and create a real court for the judicial treatment of international disputes. In 1920 the Council appointed a committee of jurists to consider the creation of a court and its proposals, with some amendments adopted by the League and, when ratified by a majority of the League members, went into effect in 1921.

The Court consisted of fifteen judges, who held office for nine vents and had its seat at the Hague. To be eligible, candidates must be of high moral character, who possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial office, or jurist consults of recognized competence international law. Candidates were nominated to the number of four each by the national groups in the Hague Court of Arbitration and elected by absolute majorities in both the Council and the Assembly of the League, sitting independently of each other.

In case the council and the Assembly disagreed, a conference committee made a compromise. If this failed, the judges already chose power, if entrusted with this task by the Council, to fill the vacancies by-election. By this selection method, the question of state equality in the Court was avoided and transmitted to the electoral bodies.

The jurisdiction of the Court extended over cases of a legal nature involving the interpretation of treaties, any question of international law, infractions of international obligations, and the nature and extent of reparations for the breach of international obligations. Only states, including the autonomous dominions that were members of the League, could be parties before the Court. Originally the Court was limited to cases arising among the League members, but later the Court was opened to nonmembers.

The jurisdiction of the Court Was voluntary when states, by special agreement, decided to submit a dispute to the Court for decision. Its jurisdiction was compulsory when states, by treaty, agreed that disputes arising from such treaty should be submitted to the Court, and when the states that were parties to a dispute had specifically accepted the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory.

When the establishment of the Court was under consideration, the great powers opposed compulsory jurisdiction. Still, the smaller powers succeeded in introducing provision by which states wishing to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court could do so by signing a so-called optional clause attached to the Protocol adopting the Court’s statute when questions were submitted by the Assembly or Council of the League; the Court was authorized to give advisory opinions objection to this feature of the Court’s powers was one of the main reasons for the refusal of the United States to adhere.

While the Permanent Court of International Justice was not an integral part of the League of Nations, it was closely connected. It was dependent upon it in many ways, legally and morally. The Court was set up by the League and was maintained by it.

The forces making for world unity based on imam and cooperation, that have brought together nearly all the civilized nations in the League, have by the same token established the Court as the judicial organ of the nascent world polity. The forces of nationalist intransigence and militarism that might break up the League would, in the same motion, lay the Court in ruins. A world court became possible only when it was established, and will be possible only so long as maintained by a world political organization, whose existence alone is welding the pulpy beginnings of international jurisprudence into a solid body of law and fashioning it into the steel frame and concrete foundations of a world polity.

The breakdown of the League of Nations system cannot be attributed solely to the inadequacies or shortcomings of its institutional arrangements. While there were certain “gaps” in the Covenant, the failure to outlaw war or forbid it in all circumstances, the rule of unanimity, and the absence of an international enforcement agency machinery was available for the peaceful settlement of disputes and the application of sanctions against a member of the League resorting to war in disregard of its covenants. Rather, the League collapsed because the member upon whom its success depended Britain, France, and the other European powers were unwilling to assume their responsibilities under the Covenant and because the United States, rejecting membership in the organization, refused to assume any responsibility at all.

The first major test of the collective security system established at Geneva occurred when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931. When presented with the opportunity of applying economic or military sanctions against a member who had committed an act of aggression against another member without having first resorted to one of the peaceful methods of settling disputes provided in the Covenant, the League Powers failed to act.

Their moral condemnation of the aggression and their adherence to the American doctrine of the “nonrecognition” of territorial aggrandizement had little effect upon Japan, who withdrew from the League and continued the invasion into China. Another opportunity to preserve the collective security system was lost when Italy was allowed to destroy Ethiopia, a member of the League whose territorial integrity and political independence was guaranteed under the Covenant.

This time the Powers resorted to half-hearted economic sanctions, which were doomed to fail in the absence of support from the United States and given the act that Britain and France were at the same time negotiating with Mussolini for an agreement at the expense of Ethiopia. The feeble sanctions did not prevent the conquest of Ethiopia. Still, they succeeded in driving Italy from the League and into an alliance with Japan and Germany to complete the League system’s destruction. Nor did the League Powers deter Germany from repudiating the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The only response of the League to Germany’s violation of the military clause of the Versailles Treaty introduction of military conscription and remilitarization of the Rhineland were resolutions condemning such violations. And when Germany joined Italy to destroy the Spanish Republic, another signatory to the Covenant, the League Powers, preferring to work outside the League, created a Committee of “Non-Intervention” to perpetuate the fiction that the civil war in Spain was an internal affair of the Spanish people and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the authority of the League. The League, weakened by Ethiopia, China, and Spain’s loss, was powerless to save Austria and Czechoslovakia from German absorption. Still working outside the League, the Powers did am even consult that agency when, at Munich, they sacrificed Czechoslovakia in the hope of preserving the last remnants of an order which they themselves had helped to destroy. The collapse of the League system was already an accomplished fact when Germany invaded Poland one year after Munich had brought peace in our time.

This time, the Powers did not attempt to invoke the League’s now-defunct machinery, for it was too late to reconstruct the system of collective security. Alone and unaided by the allies they had sacrificed to the aggressor, the remaining League Powers faced a war of annihilation. Their own security and independence were threatened with destruction.

The United Nations.

Although the United States proclaimed its determination to keep out of the European conflict, all illusions of safety and security provided by the geographical separation from Europe and Asia were shattered with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Faced with a global war against Japan and Japan’s partners in Europe, America joined the Allied Powers, who was now determined to put an end to the Fascist threat to world domination.

Being convinced that complete victory over the Axis was essential to their own freedom and independence, they came together on January 1, 1942, to form an association of the United Nations. In their joint declaration of solidarity, the United Nations subscribed to the Atlantic Charter’s principles as set forth by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill. They pledged themselves to cooperate with the signatory governments by employing all the resources at their command against the Tripartite Pact members. During the course of the war, at the periodic conferences of the Big Powers Casablanca, Quebec, Moscow, Tehran, and Yalta, the Allies began to stress their intention of remaining united in peace as in war.

After proclaiming that they recognized the necessity of establishing, at the earliest practicable date, a general international organization for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Allied Powers, at Yalta, agreed that a Conference of United Nations would be called to prepare the charter of such an organization along the lines proposed in the informal conversations held by the Big Four at Dumbarton Oaks. With the Dumbarton Oaks proposals as a basis, the United Nations convened at San Francisco to discuss the proposals and submit amendments and additions. After considerable discussion, the United Nations’ Charter was adopted by the fifty delegations and subsequently ratified by their respective governments.

In the preamble to the Charter, the United Nations express their determination “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” by uniting their strength to maintain international peace and security. While the main purpose of the United Nations is the preservation of peace, the members have also recognized the importance of achieving “international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

The United Nations is neither a world government nor a federation. Still, an association of sovereign states joined together for the purposes stated in the Charter: To give effect to these purposes, there have been established a Security Council, a General Assembly, a Secretariat, an International Court of Justice, an Economic and Social Council, a Trusteeship Council, and several subsidiaries specialized agencies.

To ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its members have conferred upon the Security Council primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security. The organization of the Security Council gives recognition to the dominant position of the Great Powers in the world today of the eleven members on the Council, five China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States are permanent members, the six none permanent members being elected by the General Assembly for terms of two years.

By the Yalta formula, the voting procedure accords one vote to each member but requires seven affirmative votes to reach a decision. Also, on all matters outside of procedural questions, decisions can be reached only if the five permanent members have voted affirmatively among the seven voters participating. Thus, one of the Great Powers, provided that power is not a party to the dispute, to veto any proposal before the Security Council.

As guardian of the peace, the Security Council may follow one of two courses of action. In the first place, the Council is authorized to investigate any situation or dispute which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security and to call upon the parties to such a dispute to settle their differences by pacific means that is, negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, or judicial settlement.

If the Council feels that the continuance of an unsettled dispute is likely to endanger international peace and security maintenance, it may recommend appropriate terms of the settlement. Second, the Security Council determines the existence of any “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and decides what measures shall be taken to maintain or restore peace.

These measures may include the severance of diplomatic and economic relations and, if necessary, operations by air, sea, and land forces of members of the United Nations under the Security Council’s Military Staff Committee’s direction. As the United Nations have agreed in advance to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council, which they have authorized to act on their behalf, the success or failure of the United Nations will depend, in the final analysis, upon the willingness of the Great Powers on the Council to discharge their responsibilities under the Charter.

The General Assembly is the organ that most truly conforms to the principle of the “sovereign equality of all its Members.” It consists of all the United Nations, each member having one vote, although a member may send up to five delegates to the Assembly. Regular annual sessions are provided for, and special sessions may be convoked at the Security Council’s request or a majority of the United Nations.

The rules of procedure adopted by the General Assembly provide for six main committees Political and Security Committee, Economic and Financial Committee, Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, Trusteeship Committee, Administrative and Budgetary Committee, and Legal Committee upon which each of the members has a representative and which deal with the agenda.

The General Assembly may be regarded as an international forum or a “town meeting of the world.” It may discuss any questions within the Charter’s scope and make recommendations to the members and the Security Council on any such matters. Although the Assembly is empowered to consider the general principles of cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security, any such question on which action is necessary must be referred to the Security Council; the Assembly also is specifically authorized to initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international cooperation in the political, economic, social, cultural, educational, and health fields, and to assist in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Other “important” questions under the jurisdiction of the Assembly include the election of the nonpermanent members of the Security Council, the election of the members of the Economic and Social Council, the election of the nonpermanent members of the Trusteeship Council, the admission of new members to the United Nations, the suspension of the rights and privileges of membership, the expulsion of members, questions relating to the Operation of the trusteeship system, and budgetary questions. Decisions of the Assembly on these important questions, including its recommendations concerning the maintenance of international peace and security, are made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. A majority makes decisions on other questions of the members present and voting.

The chief administrative officer of the United Nations is the Secretary-General, appointed by the General Assembly upon the Security Council’s recommendation for a five-year renewable term. Under the Secretary-General’s authority is the staff of the Secretariat, which is recruited from citizens of United Nations members “on as wide a geographical basis as possible.”

The Secretary-General is authorized to perform such functions as are entrusted to him by the various organs of the United Nations, to make an annual report to the General Assembly on the work of the organization, and to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. To facilitate these functions’ execution, the Secretariat is divided into several departments, including the Department of Security Council Affairs. Economic affairs social Affairs, Trusteeship Affairs, Public information legal affairs Conferences and General Services, and Administrative and Financial Services. The secretariat’s permanent staff is an element of continuity to the United Nations and serves As a coordinating agency between the various organs and specialized agencies of the organization.

The principal judicial organ of the United Nations is the International Court of Justice, which functions by an annexed statute based upon the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice and forms an integral part of the Charter. Each member of the United Nations is ipso facto a party to the Statute of the International Court of justice and undertakes to comply with the decisions of the Court in any case to which it is a party. The Court consists of fifteen judges, elected for nine-year, renewable terms by the General Assembly and Security Council, voting independently. Selection is made from a list of persons nominated by national groups of distinguished jurists.

The Court’s jurisdiction comprises all cases that the parties refer to it, all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations, and treaties and conventions in force. Also, members may adhere to the provision for compulsory jurisdiction of the Court in all legal disputes concerning the interpretation of a treaty, any question of international law, the existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute a breach of an international obligation, and the nature or extent of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation.

To ensure that the decisions of the Court are enforced, the Charter provides that, if a party fails to comply with a verdict rendered by the Court, the other party has recourse to the Security Council, Which may make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken, to give effect to the judgment.

Recognizing that conditions of stability and well-being are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations, the United Nations established an Economic and Social Council to promote international economic, social, cultural, and educational cooperation. The Council, comprising eighteen members selected by the General Assembly, meets at least three times a year to make recommendations to the United Nations upon the subjects under its jurisdiction.

The Council also is authorized to draft conventions for submission to the Assembly, to call international conferences on matters falling within its competence, and to coordinate the activities of the variant. “specialized agencies” International Labor Office, Food and Agricultural Organization, International Monetary Fund, International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization by entering into agreements with those agencies.

Regarding non-self-governing territories, the United Nations has established a trusteeship system based upon the principle that the interests of these territories’ inhabitants are paramount. In charge of the system is a Trusteeship Council composed of nations administering trust territories, the permanent members of the Security Council, and an equal number of members elected by the Assembly, not administering trust territories. The trusteeship system applies to territories held under mandate, territories of the enemy states of the Second World War, and territories voluntarily placed under the system by states responsible for their administration. It is the Trusteeship Council’s function to consider reports submitted by the administering authority, accept petitions and examine them in consultation with the administering authority, and provide for periodic visits to the respective trust territories. The value of the trusteeship system as far as the dependent peoples are concerned will depend, in the final analysis, Upon the good faith of the administering states and the force of world Opinion.

The promising beginnings of the United Nations organization have been given a serious setback by the frequent use of the veto by Russia, by the growing friction on many matters between Russia on the one side and the United States and Great Britain on the other, by the creation of a group of satellite states of the western border of Russia, and by the Russian “iron curtain,” a policy which shuts off her area of control from the rest of the world. Communist activities, encouraged by Russia in many parts of the earth, create confusion and Suspicion. Differences in ideology and foreign policy divide the world and make united action difficult.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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