Theses Bachelor's

Protection in Practice: The Minorities Section of the League of Nations Secretariat, 1919-1934

Smejkal, Thomas

The peace treaties following World War I dictated that certain newly created or enlarged nation-states in Eastern Europe accept, as a condition of their international recognition, agreements to protect the rights of minority populations within their borders. Responsibility to guarantee and supervise this protection fell to the League of Nations, an entirely new international organization. This thesis explores the Minorities Section of the League of Nations, the part of the League's Secretariat concerned with minority rights, and how it developed a procedure to handle minority questions. Though actual power for enforcement fell to the League's Council, competing interests and general reluctance among the great powers and the minority states of Eastern Europe opened up a space for the Section to largely create and implement a system of supervision. Part of the world's first international civil service, the Minorities Section worked to overcome many of the structural weaknesses of the League and to develop a process and procedure for identifying and resolving minority questions throughout Europe.



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Academic Units
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 13, 2010


Senior thesis.