The signing of the Versailles Treaty on June 28th 1919 and the formation of the League of Nations were thought to be the two ground-breaking events that would idealistically end war and bring an everlasting peace to the world. Even with the covenant of the League in place, war broke out in 1937 after other blatant acts of aggression by Japan, Italy and Germany. The League may have failed in the sense that it could not prevent World War II, but it did in the time after its founding leading up to war have its own successes in humanitarian endeavors and general peace-keeping.
The League of Nations was formally established on January 10th 1920 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The League originally consisted of 42 countries. At its largest, 57 countries were members. The League was founded on four primary goals or ideas. In place of competing empire, the principle of self-determination would create independent states and the outside world would not interfere with political direction within the nation-states. There would be no more secrecy involving treaties and alliances. Specifically, military alliance would be replaced by "guarantees of security". All disputes between individual states would be openly and diplomatically discussed. Finally, agreed disarmament would prevent an arms race like the one that contributed to the tensions that led to World War I. .
The League itself may seem Utopian or impossibly idealistic, and did appear this way to many critics even when the League originated. Ironically some of the League's strongest critics were isolationists from the United States who did not agree with Wilson's idea of global organization. Because of the United States" lack of involvement in the League, direction was left primarily to Britain and France, "whose altruism was questionable and whose economic resources had been crippled by war" (Birth 1).
Before the outbreak of World War II in 1937, the League of Nations experienced both great success and great failure.