November 15, 1920: The first General Assembly of the League of Nations convenes.
Part I of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles provided for the creation of the League of Nations, one of the earliest significant large-scale attempts at establishing a system of global collective security. Initially the centerpiece and fourteenth point of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s post-World War I “Fourteen Points” plan to ensure international peace and sovereignty, the League of Nations was envisioned as
a general association of nations… formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
The horrors of the heavily industrialized warfare and unbridled bloodshed that characterized World War I provided the impetus for the formation of such an organization, and Wilson implored the American public to support his creation. However, factions in the United States Senate, on isolationist grounds, objected in particular to Article X of the covenant, which obligated member states to “undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League”; Wilson would not accept the Republican leaders’ amendments to the treaty, nor would the Republicans ratify without the amendments. So Wilson’s own country failed to ratify the agreement, and the League of Nations General Assembly convened in Geneva, Switzerland, without its principal backer. Still, forty-two nations (not including the United States, Russia, or Germany, for different reasons) were represented at this meeting, during which rules of procedure and other technicalities were presented.
After failing to carry out its primary goals and ultimately failing to prevent the outbreak of a second World War, the League of Nations was dissolved in April 1946.