More Humiliation for League of Nations

Monday 21st  September 1936

The Italian invasion of Abyssinia was proving to be an inexhaustible well of humiliation for the League of Nations, giving renewed proof of its ineffectuality in the face of aggression. Haile Selassie flew to Geneva from his exile in Britain to relish the spectacle of the League’s Credentials Committee struggling to decide whether Abyssinian delegates could sit and vote in the Assembly. Unsurprisingly it could not reach a definitive decision and the delegates were to sit until one should be reached, which might take weeks or even months.

As far as coherence intruded itself on the formal discussion, the question might rest on whether the Emperor’s government exercised sufficient control over the west of the country to count as a constituted authority. In practice the smaller member states were keen not to set a precedent of the League docilely accepting force majeure when a larger state decided to help itself to a little neighbour. The large western democracies just hoped the embarrassment would go away, whilst Italian stayed away from Geneva and let the League flounder in its own futility.


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