Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 173–192 | Cite as

The League of Nations covenant and the United Nations charter: An analysis of two international constitutions

  • Russell S. Sobel


This paper uses the principles of constitutional economics to analyze the evolution of two international constitutions, the League of Nations Covenant and the United Nations Charter. A graphical model is used to illustrate the formation and success of the international organizations created by these documents. This paper concludes that there were two factors that resulted in the failure of the League. They were the redistribution of power in favor of the smaller nations and the free-rider problem caused by the non-binding nature of the League's decisions. Amendments were proposed to the League's Covenant which may have fixed these problems, but they were never ratified. The reasons for the failure of the League had a strong influence on the wording of the U.N. Charter. The analysis in this paper is an extension of the tools provided by constitutional economics, which have mostly been applied to national constitutions.

JEL classification

F02 H11 N40 


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Copyright information

© George Mason University 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell S. Sobel
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahassee

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