Professor Einstein (German)








League of Nations Photo Archive Toolbar: Photos


The League of Nations Archives contains a variety of visual material collections including caricatures, poster collections, postcards and reproductions, and various photo collections, including the League of Nations Collection. Jian Liu, Kris Bell, and Robert Goehlert went to the League of Nations Archives for two weeks and began scanning the League of Nations Photo Collection. The League of Nations Photo Collections includes photos of: Personalities, Assemblies, Councils, Delegations, Commissions, Conferences, the Secretariat, the Permanent Court of International Justice, the Bureau International du Travail, and miscellaneous photos.

The history of the League of Nations includes a variety of individuals, including not only the delegates, but also individuals who worked in the Secretariat, with the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Labor Organization. It also included individuals who worked on various committees, boards, commissions, and advisory bodies. This included not only politicians and diplomats, but also scientists, artists, academics, and experts in almost every field of endeavor. Many prime ministers and foreign ministers were delegates to the League and involved in its activities.  While the United States was not a member, many Americans were associated with the League.

In September of each year, an Assembly of all the member states would meet in Geneva. Each member state had one vote. Extraordinary sessions could be called to deal with urgent matters. The President was elected at the first meeting of the session, and held office for the duration of the session. The decisions of the Assembly had to be voted unanimously, except where the Covenant of the Peace Treaties provided otherwise. As a general principle decisions on questions of procedure were voted by majority, or in some cases by a two-thirds majority. The Assembly dealt with such matters as the budget, the admission of new members, all matters affecting world peace, making amendments to the Covenant, and electing non-permanent members to the Council.  Each member country was represented by a delegation to the Assembly, including not more than three delegates and substitutes.

The Council met on the third Monday in January, the second Monday in May, and just before and after the Assembly in September. The Council was originally composed of four permanent members, the British Empire, France, Italy and Japan, and four non-permanent members to be elected every year by a majority of the Assembly. The first non-permanent members appointed by the Peace Conference and named in the Covenant were Belgium, Brazil, Greece and Spain. With the approval of the majority of the Assembly, the Council was able to appoint new permanent and non-permanent members. In September 1926, Germany was admitted to the League of Nations and given a permanent seat on the Council. At the same time the number of non-permanent seats, already increased to six in 1922, was again increased to nine. The period of office was changed to three years. A tenth non-permanent seat was created for three years in 1933, and in 1936 this seat was continued in existence for another three years and an eleventh non-permanent seat created for three years until 1939. The permanent members of the Council fluctuated significantly during the 1930's and the collapse of the Versailles system.  The Japanese stopped sending representatives to Council sessions in February 1933 and the Germans followed suit in October 1933.  The League established a permanent seat for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in September 1934, but the Italians withdrew from Council meetings in 1937.  In response to the Soviet invasion of Finland, the League expelled the Soviet Union from the Assembly and Council in December 1939. Any member of the League not represented on the Council was invited to send a representative to sit on it at any meetings at which matters especially affecting it were being discussed. A similar invitation could be extended to states not members of the League.  Some individuals served on just a few councils, while others sat on numerous ones.

Commissions and Committees
The Commission and Committee System of the League was very complex.  In addition to the principal organ of the League, they performed most of the essential functions of the League.  To classify them is almost impossible.  They could be grouped by function or their legal status, i.e. whether their existence was based upon the Covenant, Council, Assembly, or international convention.

Numerous conferences were held under the auspices of the League.  Often they were held to draft common policies or procedures in areas such as economics, health, and disarmament.  In 1931 a special procedure for conferences was convened for the purpose of drafting international conventions.

The Secretariat was a permanent organ composed of the Secretary-General and a number of officials selected from among all the member countries as well as the United States.  The other officials were appointed by the Secretary-General with the approval of the Council.  The Secretariat developed over time into a unique form of international administrative service that performed all kinds of functions through its general and special sections.

There were sixty official member nations that participated in the activities of the League of Nations. The delegation from each country could include three delegates and three substitutes. Some countries also set up permanent delegations. Some consisted of a single official and others included a sizeable staff, including secretaries, experts, press secretaries, attaches, etc. Some countries also had sections in their foreign offices for League affairs.

Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ)
The Permanent Court of International Justice was created by an international treaty.  It was drafted in 1920 by a committee appointed by the Council of the League.  It was revised in 1929 and again in 1936.  The judges were elected by the Council and the Assembly of the League for a term of nine years.  When the League was dissolved, the Court was superseded by the International Court of Justice.

International Labor Organization (ILO) 
Bureau International du Travail (BIT)
The ILO/BIT was created in 1919 as an autonomous organization.  It worked closely with the League of Nations from the beginning.  Its aim was to improve labor conditions through international action.  Membership of the League carried with it membership of the organization.  In 1946 the organization became a specialized agency of the United Nations.

This category includes photos of various groups of individuals, including journalists, the Museum of the League of Nations, the Palais Wilson, the Palais de Nations, as well as photos of other buildings associated with the League and the Radio Nations.


Photo Collections




Top of Page  |  Home  |  Intro  |  Photos  |  Sources  |  Technical  |  Copyright

League of Nations Archives, Palais des Nations, CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland
Center for the Study of Global Change, 201 N. Indiana Avenue,  Bloomington, Indiana, 47408-4001,  USA
Last updated:  October, 2002 -  Send Comments to:
Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert, Chief, UNOG Registry, Records and Archives Unit, United Nations