Both Italy and Abyssinia were members of the League of Nations, which had rules forbidding aggression. Abyssinia appealed to the League and it responded by condemning the attack and imposing economic sanctions on Italy. However the sanctions excluded vital materials such as oil, and were not carried out by all members of the league. The United Kingdom and France did not take any serious action against Italy (such as blocking Italian access to the Suez Canal).
In December 1935 Samuel Hoare of Britain and Pierre Laval of France proposed the "Hoare-Laval Plan" which would end the war but allow Italy to control large areas of Abyssinia. Benito Mussolini agreed to the plan, but it caused an outcry in Britain where Hoare was accused of betraying the Abyssinians. Hoare resigned and the plan was dropped, but the perception spread that Britain and France were not serious about the principles of the league. After the plan was dropped, the war continued and Mussolini turned to Adolf Hitler for alliance.