Canada and the Problem of Protection of Minorities in the League of Nations
15 June 2019
The problem of minorities was one of the most acute throughout the existence of the League of Nations. The outcome of the First World War largely changed the map of Europe. New borders and old scores between the states only exacerbated national problems. While the Great Powers allowed their own interests to influence any possible solution of the issue, the Canadian approach to the protection of minorities is more interesting. In the first half of the twentieth century, Canada did not have any major influence on world politics. Canada could not dictate its terms to the member states of the League, and they, in turn, were reluctant to listen too much to the British Dominion, even when it tried to speak. However, the problem of the protection of minorities proved an important exception to the usual hierarchy. Elected in 1927 as a non-permanent member of the Council of the League, Canada itself had no direct interest in resolving national disputes in Europe. On this issue, however, Canada fought ardently and persistently. As a multicultural state, Canada felt strongly the need to protect the rights of national minorities. Its voice was heard and, as a result, the League of Nations changed its approach to the national minority dispute procedure, making the process more open to all parties. This article will consider how Canada, which had no serious foreign policy weight, managed to make progress in such a complex issue as the protection of the rights of national minorities in Europe.
League of Nations, Europe, national minorities, Canada, Madrid Procedure.
- Full texts of documents are available: League of Nations Treaty Series, accessed 20 January 2019, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/LONOnline.aspx? clang=_en.
- Peter Hilpold, “The League of Nations and the Protection of Minorities – Rediscovering a Great Experiment,” MPYUNL 17 (5 August 2013): 15.
- Hilpold, “The League of Nations,” 15.
- Francis Paul Walters, A History of the League of Nations, vol. I (London, New York and Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1952), 403.
- Pablo de Azcárate, League of Nations and National Minorities: An Experiment, trans. Eileen E. Brooke (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1945), 112–117.
- Ibid., 125.
- Walters, A History, vol. I, 403.
- See C. A. Macartney, National States and National Minorities (London: Oxford University Press, 1934), 394–395.
- Frederic H. Soward, “The Election of Canada to the League of Nations Council in 1927,” AJIL 23, no. 4 (Oct., 1929): 761.
- Canada and the Control of the Foreign Policy, August-September 1923, King Papers, J1, vol. 81, Public Archives of Canada.
- Richard Veatch, Canada and the League of Nations (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1975), 19.
- Veatch, Canada, 18.
- Lorna Lloyd, “’(O)n the Side of Justice and Peace’: Canada on the League of Nations Council 1927–1930,” DS 24, no. 2 (2013): 174–176.
- 8th Ordinary Session of the Assembly, League of Nations Official Journal, Special Supplement, no. 54 (1927): 62.
- Veatch, Canada, 104–105.
- Walters, A History, vol. I, 405.
- 52nd Session of the Council, 12–26 September 1928, Minutes of the Council, League of Nations, Official Journal (Oct., 1928): 1678.
- 53rd Session of the Council, 10–15 December 1928, Minutes of the Council, League of Nations Official Journal (Jan., 1929): 68.
- Walters, A History, vol. I, 408.
- 53rd Session of the Council, 69–70.
- Veatch, Canada, 107.
- For details, see Veatch, Canada, 105–108; Lloyd, “(O)n the Side,” 182–183.
- Carole Fink, “Defender of Minorities: Germany in the League of Nations, 1926–1933,” CEH 5, no. 4 (Dec., 1972): 345.
- Walters, A History, vol. I, 408–409.
- 54th Session of the Council, 4–5 March 1929, Minutes of the Council, League of Nations Official Journal (Apr., 1929): 516, 522–530.
- Azcárate, League of Nations, 107.
- Documents Relating to the Protection of Minorities by the League of Nations, League of Nations Official Journal, Special Supplement, no. 73 (1929): 30–32.
- Ibid., 6–9, 12–15, 30–32.
- 55th Session of the Council, 10–15 June 1929, Minutes of the Council, League of Nations Official Journal (Jul., 1929): 1006.
- 10th Ordinary Session of the Assembly, Plenary Meetings, League of Nations Official Journal, no. 75 (1929), 62.
- Hilpold, “The League of Nations,” 15.