The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. At its height in 1934 and 1935, it had 58 members. The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift from the preceding hundred years. The League lacked an armed force of its own and so depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, which they were often very reluctant to do. The League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the fascist powers in 1930s. The onset of the Second World War made it clear that the League had failed in its primary purpose—to avoid any future world war. The United Nations effectively replaced it after World War II and inherited a number of agencies and organisations founded by the League. (more...)
Zhang Qian (traditional Chinese 張騫; Wade-Giles Chang Ch'ien) was an imperial envoy to Central Asia in the 2nd century BCE, during the time of China'sHan Dynasty. He was the first official diplomat to bring back reliable information about Central Asia to the Chinese imperial court under Emperor Wu of Han. Today Zhang Qian's travels are associated with the major route of transcontinental trade, the Silk Road. In essence, his missions opened up to China the many kingdoms and trade goods from hitherto unknown parts of the world. Zhang Qian's accounts of his explorations of Central Asia are detailed in the Early Han historical chronicles, Records of the Grand Historian or Shiji, compiled by Sima Qian in the 1st century BCE. Today Zhang Qian is considered a national hero for the role he played in opening China to the world of commercial trade.