The secretariat of the League was divided into three main departments dealing with:
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- Economic, financial and transit questions
- Social and humanitarian problems (health, drug traffic, child welfare, social work, refugees, intellectual collaboration);
- Legal and administrative questions (registration of international treaties, protection of minorities, mandates, slavery).
The League had four ways to enforce the provisions of the treaties. These were called Sanctions.
At the onset of an international problem:
- It could call on the states in dispute to discuss the problem in an orderly and peaceful manner. This would be done in the League’s Assembly. Then the assembly will come o decide how to proceed.
- If one nation was seen to be the offender, the League introduced verbal sanctions – warning an aggressor nation that they must leave the other 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 they 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. By article III, 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.
- 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 WWI.