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Universality versus Coherence

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Membership, Participation and the Crisis of the League of Nations

image of International Community Law Review

The diversity of international actors numbers among one of the main phenomena of the modern international system. Dating the diversity to recent years is understandable in view of how it increased after 1945, but it has an earlier history. The League of Nations encountered a range of potential participants much wider than the core group of Powers which had been instrumental at the Peace Conference in constituting it. To an extent, the Covenant of the League envisaged a widening of participation. This was through a provision for admission of new members that, unlike Article 4 of the United Nations Charter, was not limited to entities described as States as such. In practice, only States became members; but there were other innovations which are relevant to institutions seeking to accommodate diversity in the present day as well. These merit further consideration as part of a renewed focus on the interwar era.

Affiliations: 1: Lauterpacht Centre for International LawWolfson College, University of CambridgeUKBars of New YorkMassachusetts and the District of


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