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Art. 1.—THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS. To most people the League of Nations is merely the espression of a pious hope of better things to come ; to some it is the panacea for all the evils of the world, whether social or political; to others its aims are a source of derision and of complete scepticism as to the possibility of their ever being realised ; while to a few, the chosen few, the League of Nations is a second star of Bethlehem leading to peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

To these elect the League is an institution of which the maintenance of peace and the suppression of war as a monstrous anomaly are the principal objects to be held in view; but they intend that it shall also embrace humanitarian ideals of an international character, by which the inhabitants of countries within the League shall be gradually brought, through the suppression of vice and by increased opportunities for intellectual culture, to a happier and more perfect state of existence. There can be no doubt as to the genuine enthusiasm of these few and the beneficial effect of

their fervour; but it is just the sincerity of their idealism 6 which constitutes one of the principal dangers to the

League and may even in the end wreck its existence. M

Four weeks spent in Geneva during the fourth meeting of the Assembly of Delegates from fifty-two nations represented in the League give ample opportunity to stive at a just appreciation of the value of its work, and to weigh without prejudice its successes and failures. It was unfortunate that the opening of the Assembly wincided with the Italian-Greek incident on the Albanian Tol. 241.–No. 478.

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frontier, since it threw a shadow over the meeting an provoked angry discussions and threats which we unworthy and futile. Still it had this advantage : that it provided an object lesson for the future, ar proved that, unless the Council of the League acts wit more prudence in similar cases that may occur, ti future of the League risks being compromised.

The principles which form the cornerstone of th League are the equality of all nations whether gre or small, and their right to have their independence an territory respected. Just as in private life a citizens a State cannot deal with a recalcitrant neighbour b taking the law into his own hands, so also a Stat Member of the League, is precluded by the Covenar from taking violent action against another State withou previous recourse to the League for its mediation o arbitration. Consequently, the Greek Government wer in every sense justified in making their appeal to th League on the occupation of Corfu by Italy ; but th League should have recognised the limits of their righ of interference, and should have had the wisdom not t encroach upon the province of the Conference of Ambas sadors in Paris-confided to that body by the Signatorie of the Treaty of Versailles-in endeavouring to lay dow the actual steps to be taken and the measures of repara tion to be exacted for the cruel and barbarous massacr of the Italian Mission. The Council of the Leagu should have acted in co-operation with the Conferenc of Ambassadors, reserving the right to adjust the questio of the occupation of Corfu and the incident at Janin in the event of the Conference failing to do so.

The Italian Government were, on their side, justifie in opposing the claim of the League to interfere in th solution of the incident at Janina. To make this clea it suffices to point out that, had the Italian Governmen not taken the law into their own hands and seize Corfu as a guarantee for reparation due at the hand of the Greek Government, whom they regarded as responsible for the murder of the Italian Mission, there need not have been any ground for an appeal by the Greek Government to the League of Nations. As state above, the execution of the Treaties of Peace was after their signature confided by the Allies to the Representa

tives in Paris of the Allied Great Powers, whose duty it is to supervise the execution of all the details of the Treaties, amongst these being the delimitation of new frontiers. The Italian Mission had formed part of the International Commission for the delimitation of the frontier between Greece and Albania. That Commission was appointed by, and was acting under the direct instructions of the Conference of Ambassadors in which Italy was represented by her own Ambassador. In its own sphere the Conference enjoys almost unique powers, and from its composition, knowledge of the situation and experience, it was certainly more competent to deal with the crisis on the Albanian frontier than the Council of the League of Nations. For the Italian Government to have agreed to the interference of the League in the solution of the incident at Janina would have been to derogate the responsibilities and duties of the Conference of Ambassadors, a body of the highest status and actually created by the Allies for the solution of all such questions, to 8 Council composed of the representatives of various Powers with possibly divergent interests and without the special technical knowledge which was essential in order to arrive at a just decision in the matter.

Thus far the Italian Government were acting with right on their side.

But, on the other hand, their refusal to admit the competence of the League to espress an opinion upon the legitimacy of the occupation of Corfu, or to decide whether such action constituted an act of war as defined by the terms of the Corenant, proved that the Italian Government were also lacking in wisdom by their failure to realise that in so doing they were rendering illusory the force of the Covenant of which they themselves were a signatory, and which, like a boomerang, might well react to their own serious disadvantage on some future occasion.

It should be clearly understood that in the GreekItalian conflict there were two distinct but interdependent issues, the incident at Janina which was dealt with by the Conference of Ambassadors, and the occupation of Corfu which came within the jurisdiction of the League of Nations. What was required was a bridge between the League and the Ambassadors, and this eventually, under the force of circumstances, was found.

As to the final solution of the question by the Council of Ambassadors, as General Smuts said recently in a speech : The less said about it the better. But it is asserted in official circles in Paris that M. Mussolini would not have accepted less, and that if less had been offered he would have declared war. The question of the amount of compensation was not worth a war.

The proposal of the Council of the League to submit the question of competence to the International Tribunal of The Hague was the only proper course to follow under the circumstances, since such a Court would and could pronounce a decision which would inspire universal confidence, and against which there could be no appeal. The Italian Government made a mistake in rejecting this proposal and in agreeing to the substitution of a Court of International Jurists. Who has ever heard of a litigant, except on the plea of expense, preferring to submit his case to a lower rather than to a higher Court? One can only surmise that the Italian Government are cognisant of the weakness of their case, and prefer that it should be condemned by a lower Court rather than by the greatest International Tribunal of Justice that the world has ever seen.

Turning to other achievements of the League of Nations there is no doubt that their most valuable and greatest success has been the reconstitution of Austria, and it is sincerely to be hoped that the negotiations now in progress between the League and the Hungarian Government may result in the League taking the economic restoration of Hungary in hand, and thus re-establishing two elements at least of stability and progress between the crumbling German Empire and the rivalries of the Balkan States. It would be out of place to criticise here at length the foreign policy of those who, by the Treaty of St Germain, destroyed Austria and Hungary, the necessity of whose existence has since proved so essential that they have had, in one case and probably in 'both, to be restored by the aid of international credits provided by the Allies their destroyers. As was truly said by a great statesman, if there were no Austria, it would be necessary to invent one.

Of the work accomplished during the recent session of the Assembly there can be no doubt that by far the

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