What Does the League Mean to You?

SIR GEORGE E. FOSTER July 1 1922

What Does the League Mean to You?

SIR GEORGE E. FOSTER July 1 1922

What Does the League Mean to You?

SIR GEORGE E. FOSTER

THE PURPORT of this article is to convey to as many Canadians as may read it an idea of what the League of Nations is, how it works and what it has done since its establishment on January 10, 1920. Since then, Canada has been represented at the first and second assemblies of the League and has taken an active and honorable part in both and bears her proportion of the expenses of the League. Every Canadian, therefore, is, or should be, intensely interested in the scheme devised by the Peace Conference to provide against future wars and their entailed horrors and to insure, if possible, the benefits of a continued world peace.

Come then with me to Paris in January, 1919— where were assembled the representatives of thirtytwo nations of the world which had as allies or associates taken part in the great four year’s war. Two months previously, the armistice had been signed and actual war had ceased.

The intervening time had sufficed to make preparations for the unparalleled event. Every Chancellery of thirty-two nations had been busy cataloguing its wounds, counting up its losses, marshalling its claims and choosing its representatives and their staffs of experts and diplomats.

From far away China and Japan in the East, from India and Persia, Arabia and Egypt, from the Overseas nations of the British Empire in three continents, from the Latin Republics of the South, from the great English-speaking republic of North America, from distant and diminutive Siam and Liberia, and from ten European nations,

streamed the varied aggregation of colour, race and creed, and found place for their flags, their staffs, and their dignitaries in hospitable Paris. Never before had the old City beheld such a massed diversity of nationalities, costumes, colours and retainers, whilst on their flanks gathered picturesque delegations from more than a score of smaller tribal and sectional portions of the world, each anxious to realize the gospel of self-determination in the erection of diminutive kingdoms and republics of its

Thither streamed also the detachment of editors, correspondents, and reporters from all quarters of the globe, the listening ears and distributing tongues which should apprise humanity from day to day of the secrets and certainties of the great World Conference.

Can Recurrence Be Avoided?

BUT prior to and underneath all this activity of preparation for settling the terms of peace, a deeper and more far-reaching problem had been engaging the minds of the world’s statesmen. And this was how to avoid the recurrence of such wars in the future. The age-long methods of settling international disputes by armed force and costly wars and all the resultant evils had signally failed. The awful culmination of this policy in a four years’ world war entailing the death of eight million adult men, the disabling and wounding of nineteen million more, the incalculable destruction of moral and physical fibre and of material wealth, and the near chaos in the world’s economic and financial situation constituted an object lesson fresh in the minds of all. If there was any better way, surely now was the opportunity to make the substitution for the old and instal the new methods.

Then again, these thirty-two nations were to formulate a peace which should apportion the penalties to be enacted from the conquered nations, in part reparation at least of the ravages committed and the cost incurred. There were also conquered territories to be disposed of, and new national entities to be established with territory to be allocated and frontiers to be delimited. There were in addition minorities racial and religious to be protected. Hitherto penalties and adjustments had been imposed and executed by individual conquering powers or by small aggregations thereof, but here were

conditions so unusual and so complex that no one power or small aggregation of powers could cope with the situation. The idea existed long before and partial realization had been obtained by calling into existence a concert or balance of powers and by setting up arbitration courts with headquarters at The Hague. Now the Great War had emphasized the necessity for a more complete realization of the idea of substituting efficient peace methods for war methods, and the World Peace Confer-

ence afforded the opportunity therefor. The four years’ war had staggered and almost ruined the world. Could our civilization stand up against another world war, which, if it took place, could not fail to be infinitely more destructive and exhausting? Did not the situation call for world co-operation, and was not this the great opportunity? Small wonder then that when the delegates assembled in the spacious halls of the Quai D’Orsay on January 18, 1919, one of the first subjects on the agenda was the formation of an association of nations pledged to substitute methods of peace for those of war in the settlement of all disputes arising among nations, nor that the first resolution of the conference passed at its second session one week thereafter affirmed the principle of a League of Nations and provided for the appointment of a commission to formulate a constitution therefor.

The Covenant of The League

IT IMMEDIATELY proceeded to its work and on February 14 presented its draft report to the third plenary session of the Conference, which report was approved and published to the world and authority given for its incorporation into the treaties to be made with the enemy powers.

This covenant, whose preamble pledges the nations not to go to war, but to rely on the methods of peace, consists of twenty-six articles, dealing with the membership and organization of the league the reduction of armaments; the methods to be adopted in settling disputes by conference, by reference to the G-ague Council and Assembly and by arbitration and judicial decisions: the registration and publication of all treaties as essential to their validity; the administration bv mandatories in trust of territory' taken from Germany in Africa and the East, and from Turkey in Asia Minor; the promotion of humanitarian activities by co-operation and supervision in respect of labour and health conditions, the suppression of epidemics, of the opium and drug trade, of the traffic in arms among backward peoples, and in women and children.

The League is not based on forte, though Article 1(1 provides for compulsion for the mendier which insists upon making w'ar without first availing itself of the machinery of the League to settle its differences in a peaceful manner, or which, having so availed itself, refuses to

abide by the decision arrived at. The moral and economic sanctions, however, are so strong, that the contingency of war force should seldom if ever arise. In any event such a war of one recalcitrant against the League would be less costly and more quickly ended than under the old system where others would be likely to be embroiled.

There is no compulsion on any nation to join the League; any member can withdraw thereform on conditions laid down. The Covenant was originally signed by the representatives of the thirty-two nations which composed the Peace Conference. Since then, other nations have been admitted to membership, until now the League numbers fifty-one nations, embracing seventy-five per cent, of the population and sixtyfive per cent, of the world’s territory. When Germany, Hungary, Turkey and Russia shall have fulfilled the required conditions and become members, it will practically include the whole world with the exception of Mexico and the United States. The latter country, however, is one in sympathy and ideals with the League and is working along parallel

So much then as to the origin and aims of the League of Nations.

How the League Works

THE League works through a council, an assembly and a secretariat. One representative in the council is appointed by each of the great powers and four are elected by the assembly. As the United States has not yet ratified the treaty, the council up to the present has consisted of eight members—one each from Great Britain, France, Japan and Italy, and four representing the assembly. The council meets from time to time as occasion requires. Since January. 1920, it has held eighteen meetings, at Paris, London, Brussels, Rome, and Geneva. The powers and duties of the council are defined in the Covenant of the League or imposed by the Treaties of Peace. In addition to its specific duties it is empowered to deal “with any matters within the sphere of action of the League or affecting the peace of the

The present members of the Council are—the Earl of Balfour, (British Empire); Leon Bourgeois, (France): Viscount Imperiali (Italy); Viscount Ishii, (Japan); Count de Leon, (Spain); Paul Hymans, (Belgium); Wellington Koo, (China;) Da Cunha (Brazil)all of whom are of cabinet or ambassadorial rank.

In general, the council deals with all matters committed to it by the treaties of peace, carries out the recommendations of the assembly, supervises all technical and special commissions and receives and digests their reports, hears all complaints and appeals from national minorities, and from members of the League as to alleged injustices or aggressions, directs and oversees the work of the secretariat, and acts as an impartial and sympathetic helper in cases of differences between members of the League. Its general meetings are public and its proceedings are submitted in annual report for the consideration of the assembly.

The assembly is made up of three representatives from each nation member of the League. W ith its present membership of fifty-one nations, the assembly would number a possible 163.

Each nation, however, has only one vote, given bj the leader of the delegation. Small and great nations are, therefore, on a perfect equality in point of discussion and in voting power.

The assembly meets in Septembi Geneva—the headquarters of the

session in 1920 lasted six weeks; its----., _.

weeks. It elects its president and twelve vice-presi yearly and these regulate the work of the assem » >■ The assembly is the authoritative body which give vitality and direction to the whole organization. It con trois the finances, makes the appropriations,

?r of each year at league. Its first second in 1921, four

the accounts, authorizes the subsidiary, technical, and other commissions, reviews the work of the council and commissions, and lays down the programme of League activities. It elects the representatives of the assembly on the council, it admits to membership of the League after full examination as to fitness and guarantees.

Besides these, it provides a world platform on which grievances, disputes, conditions and betterment plans can be discussed and at which the world of nations may find a rallying point and stimulus for world peace and international amity.

In both council and assembly, deliberations upon matters of primary importance require an unanimous vote to become effective. This was designed to prevent the overriding of the national rights of small nations by large powers or the over-ruling of large nations by a combination of the smaller powers. So far it has worked without detriment or disadvantage.

What the League Has Done

ÍN ANSWERING this question regard must be had to

certain modifying conditions which have rendered its work always more difficult and sometimes impossible. Bear in mind that the League was not formed to make peace among the hitherto warring nations, but to preserve it when made. The former was the business of the Peace Conference. Then when the terms and conditions of peace had been fixed, ratified and loyally acceded to, it was the work of the League of Nations to maintain that peace, and to prevent, so far as possible, all future wars.

As a matter of fact peace terms in no case have been fully completed and loyally accepted, whilst on the other hand Russia remains to this day belligerent and menacing, the treaty with Turkey has not been ratified, and Greece and that country are still actively at war.

Under normal conditions a League of Nations would enter upon its task with the world nations at peace, and the world commercial and financial situation undisturbed.

In this instance it had to begin its work amid the worst' possible conditions left over by the war: old nations

dismembered and penalized in heavy war reparations, new nations with undelimited frontiers and hostile minorities within their limits, racial and war hates sharpened, everywhere ruined and devastated areas, empty exchequers depreciated currencies, staggering debts, starving populations and weakened morale.

No more troubled sea could be imagined in which to launch the new adventure.

Moreover the United States, which at last made common cause with us late in the war, and which sat in with us at the peace table and dictated its terms, withdrew when it came to the hardest task of all—the re-adjustments after peace. The stimulus to recalcitrancy and reaction provided thereby to enemy nations, the will to contumacy and extravagant demands incited among the smaller nations, and the depression of hope and lack of co-operation experienced by the Great Powers as a result of this withdrawal, xvere factors in the subsequent work of pacification and reconstruction simply incalculable.

Had the United States continued its co-operation, how different the history of pacification and reconstruction would have been!

One Canadian’s Job

TY"EEPING the above facts in mind and giving them due consideration let us proceed to the work of the League. It divides itself into several parts.

First of these is administrative work imposed by the Treaties, such as the Saar Basin and the Dantzig Corri-

The peace treaty vested in France the coal areas and all their appurtenaces in the Saar Basin for a period of fifteen years. At the end of fifteen years the inhabitants are to vote whether they will join France or Germany or remain in the status held during this period. Here was a district filled with productive and industrial activities, having a population of 750,000 people almost entirely German, who had hitherto lived under German laws ana customs administered by Germans. Here were their conquerors, the hated French, in possession and oper-

al ion of the great productive industries. Who was to administer the Government during those fifteen years, levy the taxes, maintain order, mete out justice and supervise all the varied municipal and other affairs of this complex community? Clearly not the French,for they would be partial and oppressive, nor the Germans, for I hey would bn dissatisfied and obstructive. It could only be done by an impartial and sympathetic body which directly represented neither power and yet which had the prestige of all the powers combined.

Bv the treaty of peace, the administration was handed over to I he council of the League, which appointed a commission of five, of which one is Pf.D. Waugh, of Winnipeg, which for the fifteen years’ period carries on the whole govvernment of the district, collects the taxes, makes the expenditures, maintains order, administers the laws and directs communicat ions. There is an appeal to the council of the League from the decisions of the commission.

The experiment has been happily effective and satisfactory. Any attempt to administer the district by either the French or Germans would have been met with difficulties insurmountable and would in all probability have bred dissensions which would have resulted in war.

Poland’s Dilemma

EWLY established Poland, with its thirty million of people, had no outlet to the Baltic. It was blocked by German possession of Dantzic and the lower reaches of the Vistula. Satisfactory national development was impossible under these conditions. The Treaty of Peace provided a neutral corridor from the interior of Poland along the Vistula and through Dantzig to the sea. This could not be left in the hands of either Germans or Poles with any expectation of smooth working and the avoidance of injustice and consequent bitter national disputes which might flame out into war at any moment.

The matter was handed over to the League which represented all the nations. Dantzig and the Corridor was to be constituted a Free City under the adminis-

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What Does the League Mean to You?

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tration of the council of the League, with a constitution approved by the council and a government of its own election with all the powers given by the Constitution. The League council appoints a high commissioner whose decisions are appealable to the council, whose ultimate determinations are final.

Conciliatory Services

BY THE treaty of peace, the possession of Upper Silesia was to be determined by a plebiscite. The population is chiefly German and Polish, distributed in groups in which Poles and Germans alternately constitute a majority. The country is a centre of a varied and complex natural and industrial production. In the delimitation of the frontiers consequent upon the plebiscite the greatest difficulties presented themselves.

In vain the supreme council of the allies sent, commissions, proposed plans and attempted mediation. The supreme council itself was not at one. France favoured the Poles, and Britain urged fair treatment of the Germans. No solution appeared possible until the supreme council of the allies decided to hand the matter over to the League of Nations and agreed to abide by its decision.

The League Council at once got to work. It appointed Mr. Calonder, an ex-president of the Swiss Republic, a Commissioner, representatives of the Polish and German Governments were named to act under and with him, a comprehensive and thorough examination was conducted into the whole situation, reports made to Mr. Calonder and conferences conducted with the representatives of both countries. The final decision in the event of their not coming to an agreement was in the hands of Mr. Calonder. The result was an agreement on all points embracing frontiers, communications, transport, postal service and industries to continue for fifteen years, which has been duly ratified by both governments, to the credit of the League. No more signal triumph has been recorded than this practical and unanimous settlement of a most difficult situation which the allies were unable to effect and which, unsettled, would have inevitably involved the two nations and probably Europe in another

Similar instances are those of the settle ment of the Aaland Islands dispute between Sweden and Finland, the Polish Lithuanian embroglio, the Albanian frontier dispute between that country and Serbia and the establishment of an independent Albania under the protection of the League.

Protection of Minorities

TO THE League has also been entrusted the protection of the Minorities, racial, lingual and religious, which in the realignment of territory to the new nations are found in groups in some ten or more nationalities. Under treaties, these nations are obligated to deal justly and impartially with these Minorities and the Council of the League hears complaints and conducts examinations when necessary and assumes the task of judge and peacemaker in the premises.

Then there is what may be included under constructive work. The diminution of armaments to the minimum of actual national needs is a cardinal part of the work of the League. Immediately on its formation, the council of the League appointed an influential commission composed of experts in air, naval and military matters to examine and report upon the means to be adopted to attain the object in view. Its report was made to the first Assembly at Geneva in 1920 and there thoroughly discussed. The almost unanimous opinion of the Assembly favoured the principle and supported its practical application.

But a formidable difficulty presented itself. The United States was not a member of the League. Her point of view was not known. It was known, however, that she had sanctioned and was then proceeding with a plan of naval construction that would make her fleet the most powerful in the world. In face of this fact it was folly to ask Great Britain, Japan, France and Italy to dis-

mantle their fleets. As regards land armaments, Europe was still far from being at peace. Russia faces the frontiers of all the Baltic States, of Poland and the Balkans. Russia is outside the League and maintains an army of 1,500,000 which threatens every contiguous state. Disarm these states and Russia could march freely to the very centre of Europe. The League was therefore obliged to go slowly. It contented itself with requesting that all nations consent to make no additions to their military and naval appropriations for the period of two years over the budget of 1920. In the meantime the views of the United States were to be ascertained and the commission, above mentioned, was to gather full statistics from all the governments of the armament status in 1914, and the present, and to prepare a plan of disarmament proportional to the needs of each country. That Commission is now at work and will report to the Assembly at Geneva in September.

Since then the Washington Conference has been held with the results now well known and the task of the League has been thereby rendered less difficult of fulfillment.

Policy of Mandates

'T'HE Peace Conference at Paris A inaugurated a new era in the disposition of colonial-territorial war conquests. Hitherto the conqueror seized, held and administered the conquered territory entirely in his own interests and generally as an integral part of his possessions.

Hereafter, such conquered territory is to be administered in the form of mandatories in the interest and for the benefit of the peoples included therein. It is to be held as a trust by the mandatory nations, an administered under powers approved the League and subject to its supervision.

In this way the former German possessions in Africa and the Pacific and of Turkey in Asia are to be administered by France, Great Britain and the South African Government in Africa, by Great Britain in Palestine and Mesopotamia, by France in Syria and by Japan, Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific.

The Permanent Court

PERHAPS the outstanding achievement of the League of Nations is the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice.

For years such a court had been the dream of many statesmen.

But hitherto their unremitting efforts had achieved no further results than the establishment of the Arbitration Courts at The Hague. These, however, are not courts of law, have no strictly legal procedure, and are for emergent and not permanent situations.

Section fourteen of the Covenant of the League imposed upon it the duty of forming a Permanent Court, a task which was undertaken at the first meeting of the Council in Paris.

Ten of the foremost jurists of the world, of whom Elihu Root of the United States was one, were summoned to The Hague and asked to prepare and submit a constitution for the proposed Court. It gave six weeks to the work and submitted an unanimous report to the council of the League. This was carefully examined and slightly amended by the council and passed on to the first assembly of the League. Here it wás referred to a committee of experts, examined in detail and reported unanimously to the Assembly which unanimously approved it. Embodied in a protocol, it was then sent to all the nation members of the League and was ratified by their legislatures.

The Court consists of eleven judges and four deputy-judges to be chosen by the council and the assembly voting separately. The elected judges must have received a majority of the votes cast in both council and assembly. As a panel from which the judges were to be chosen, each member of the League had the right to nominate four jurists of proved capacity, experience and character. This gave a wide choice from amongst some two hundred of the best world jurists. These judges are to have

no political or diplomatic connection with the nation to which they belong, are elected for a teim of nine years and are eligible for re-election.

The Court sits at The Hague and is open to all members of the League for the adjudication of matters in dispute between them, and also, on application, to any nation outside the League on certain conditions of expense payments.

Cases are brought before the court on the application of the nations concerned. The decisions of the Court are final.

Its first session for the trial of cases I was fixed for June 15, 1922.

The eleven judges elected are from ! the United States, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, Japan, France, Brazil and Cuba; the deputy judges from China, Serbia, Norway and Roumania, and they represent all the known systems of jurisprudence.

The establishment of this court marks an epoch in international history and rounds out the peace machinery for the settlement of international disputes.

These may now be settled by either diplomatic negotiations between the states interested, by arbitration, by reference to the Council or to the Assembly of the League, or by adjudication of the Permanent World Court.

Fair Working Conditions

A N ESSENTIAL part of the League il. work is provided for in article 23 of the Covenant which

aims to secure fair and humane conditions of labour for men, women and children; just treatment of native populations in controlled territories; united effort to prohibit the traffic in women and children, in opium and dangerous drugs; supervision of the trade in arms and ammunition in countries where control is necessary in the common interest; the prevention and control of epidemic diseases, and the freedom of transit and communications from unreasonable and hampering ressaierions.

This opens up an immense and most j profitable field for international co-operation, and brings into action all the forces' j of good will and common humanity, j The means adopted to carry out these objects are chiefly commissions, confer| enees, international agreements and constant and efficient supervision.

A World Labour Office has been established with headquarters at Geneva j with affiliation in every part of the world,

I which works through a permanent organization at Geneva and yearly conferences of representatives of the Governments, the employers and the employees. Dr. j W. A. Riddell, formerly Deputy Minisj ter of Labor for Ontario, is on the permanent staff of this office. He has associated with him Miss Margaret Strong, j formerly inspector of Public schools, i New Westminster, B.C.

A financial and economic commission composed of the best experts obtainable

I has been organized, which called together at Brussels in 1920 the representatives

j of thirty-nine nations, examined thor| oughly the conditions in Europe, and issued its recommendations and conclussions. These have been of invaluable assistance to all governments in the work

II ">f re-adjustment. The Commission has ar plied the suggestions of that Confer' nee, with modifications, to the work of

rehabilitating the financial and economic system of Austria, and is assisting IP solving the economic problems of Dantzig, and of other countries which require advisory aid. A permanent commission on transit and communications has also been set up. Slowly but surely this commission is clearing out J and freeing the channels of communicaI £ion and bringing about good will and I friendly relations between the erstwhile warring nations

Registration of Treaties

j A NOTHER important function of the , LeaSue >s imposed by Article 18 of the Covenant which provides for the registration and publication of Treaties made by members of the League. Secret Treaties between the great Powers involving international relations have always been a fruitful source of suspicion and ill feeling and gave rise to defensive combinations of other Powers with secret 1 treaties to offset possible dangers. No

greater obstacle was encountered at the Peace Conference than the existence of several of these made in the stress periods of the War, and which embodied guarantees and promises for future division of territory.

Under the above section all such treaties have to be registered with the Secretariat of the League and their registration and publication is essential to their

It was new doctrine and not over palatable to some of the Powers, hut gradually it has been subscribed to and up to date more than 200 Treaties and International agreements have been -registered and more than 100 have been published. No end of good will result from such publicity, national suspicions will be diminished and a fruitful cause of war provocation eliminated.

Canada’s Part

VI rHAT interest has Canada in the VV League of Nations?

In any year previous to 1914 the question might have been asked, “What interest has Canada in European or world affairs?” And yet when the World War came, Canada was in it, could not avoid being in it and bore and still bears her part in all the losses, human and national, entailed thereby.

So will it be should another world war break out.

Canada, therefore, is vitally interested in the prevention of future wars. The League is the latest known and best means devised to this end. Again, Canada was one of the thirty-two nations represented at the Peace Conference. She, in common with the others, wrought out the covenant of the League, bound herself equally with the others to respect and fulfil its provisions and signed all peace treaties which embody the eove-

Canada has sent her representatives to the two assemblies at Geneva, and these have wrought with the representatives of the other fifty-one nations there to give effect to the principles of the League and to embody them in the working out of international relations. She is therefore bound to see that this plan— her own plan—is maintained and applied, and that her own government works up to its demands.

The effective answer, however, to the question is really given by asking: “Does Canada want another such war as that just past?” The universal reply to this question is “No.” Every child, woman and man in Canada says “No, God forbid.”

But another, though infinitely more destructive war, is certain unless effective steps are taken to prevent it. If the methods of peace are to be substituted for those of armed force, it can only be done by world organization, and the cooperation of all nations is required, each in itself, to determine and all together to enforce that determination. Neither kings, presidents, cabinets nor governments of themselves can be relied upon to ensure such determination and co-operation. Only the moral and voting force of the units of each nation massed upon

the one objective can bring about the desired end. Every Canadian therefore is interested,vitally, essentially interested,in knowing just what the League is—how it works and what it has done, is doing and may do, so that,intelligently convinced, all Canadians may, in the exercise of their suffrage rights, insist on their government proceeding along the lines of Peace and avoiding those of War.

Our Representatives

(CANADA was represented at the Peace ■* Conference by Sir Robert Borden, Sir George Foster, and Hon. Messrs. Doherty and Sifton. These sat in the conference and took an active and prominent part in the various International Grand and subCommittees which prepared the work for Conference. They also formed, with representatives from Great Britain and the other overseas Dominions and India, the important Imperial War Council before which came for consideration the multiplied reports and plans contributed from the other nations of the Conference.

They were assisted by a small but competent staff of experts and clerks from Canada. The Canadian representatives signed the various treaties of peace as they were successively completed.

It can be truthfully stated that no more conscientious, competent and effective delegation from any of the lesser powers was present at Paris.

At the meeting of the first Assembly of the League, Canada was represented by Sir George Foster, Hon. C. J. Doherty and Hon. Newton W. Rowell. The writer had the honor of being elected as one of the twelve vice-presidents, who, with the presidents of the assembly, were responsible for the order and conduct of the business of the assembly. Each representative had a seat on two of the six grand committees, to whom were distributed the various subject-matters which came before the assembly and whose duty it was to examine and report thereon to the assembly.

The writer also served upon the technical organization commission and on that of finance, and the budget, and was elected rapporteur for the committee on finance and budget, and for the subcommittee on epidemic diseases which had to deal with the fight against typhus in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Hon. Mr. Doherty sat on the commission which dealt with the permanent Court of International Justice and with mandates and armaments. He took a most important part in preparing the report upon the permanent Court of International Justice.

Mr. Rowell sat upon the commissions in charge of constitutional questions and the admission of new members, and was elected a rapporteur on the latter.

In no respect was the work and influence of the Canadian delegation inferior to that of any of the Nations represented.

To the second Assembly, the Hon. Mr. Doherty and Sir George Perley were sent as Canada’s Representatives and performed their duties with marked efficiency and credit.