The League of Nations was to be based in Geneva, Switzerland. This choice was natural as Switzerland was a neutral country and had not fought in World War One. No one could dispute this choice especially as an international organisation such as the Red Cross was already based in Switzerland.
If a dispute did occur, the League, under its Covenant, could do three things – these were known as its sanctions:
It could call on the states in dispute to sit down and discuss the problem in an orderly and peaceful manner. This would be done in the League’s Assembly – which was essentially the League’s parliament which would listen to disputes and come to a decision on how to proceed. If one nation was seen to be the offender, the League could introduce verbal sanctions – warning an aggressor nation that she would need to leave another nation’s territory or face the consequences.
If the states in dispute failed to listen to the Assembly’s decision, the League could introduce economic sanctions. This would be arranged by the League’s Council. The purpose of this sanction was to financially hit the aggressor nation so that she would have to do as the League required. The logic behind it was to push an aggressor nation towards bankruptcy, so that the people in that state would take out their anger on their government forcing them to accept the League’s decision. The League could order League members not to do any trade with an aggressor nation in an effort to bring that aggressor nation to heel.
If this failed, the League could introduce physical sanctions. This meant that military force would be used to put into place the League’s decision. However, the League did not have a military force at its disposal and no member of the League had to provide one under the terms of joining – unlike the current United Nations. Therefore, it could not carry out any threats and any country defying its authority would have been very aware of this weakness. The only two countries in the League that could have provided any military might were Britain and France and both had been severely depleted strength-wise in World War One and could not provide the League with the backing it needed. Also both Britain and France were not in a position to use their finances to pay for an expanded army as both were financially hit very hard by World War One.
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