9.8: Institutions Developing in a Globalized World
After World War 1, many nations, including the USA, tried to establish a League of Nations to help “keep the world in check” and prevent another Great War. Ultimately, the League of Nations ideated by Woodrow Wilson failed because the rest of the US government did not approve. The league was unsuccessful and was only sustained for a few years because most of the world’s new superpowers like the USA, USSR, and Great Britain never fully became members.
This image is courtesy of the UN and shows all of the different divisions of the UN.
After World War 2, all of the allied forces realized that without some kind of supranational organization (an organization that multiple sovereign nations participate in to work toward a mutual goal), we could face another huge global war. With a council of the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and the USSR, they agreed in 1945 to establish a permanent organization to be the governing body of the whole world 👩⚖️
Today, the UN has 193 member countries and their purpose is to be “One place where the world's nations can gather together, discuss common problems, and find shared solutions” (This description is courtesy of the UN Website
Now, the UN has multiple main bodies/divisions that have international power: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. We’ll discuss the International Court of Justice and the Security council more in the peacekeeping section, but for now let’s mainly look at the UN Secretariat and the General Assembly together.
The General Assembly of the UN (also known as the UNGA) is the legislative body of the UN where they pass resolutions that recognize issues across the world. For example, on the 75th session of the General Assembly in 2020, Resolution 226 was adopted on December 21, 2020 regarding the UN’s stance on the rules for migrants and asylum seekers that reaffirmed their status internationally and officially recognized them as vulnerable people traveling across the world with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Secretariat is what carries out the normal day-to-day business of the UN and publicizes what is said by the UN General Assembly. They act similar to an administrative office of your school, but for the UN! The leader of the UNGA and the Secretariat is the Secretary-General.
The United Nation’s main strategy for keeping the peace is prevention through diplomacy. Instead of war being the first option, it is the last resort. United Nation diplomats travel to different countries in the world to help prevent conflict in situations where tensions are high. The UN also has peacekeeping forces which are forces consisting of civilians, police, and troops that work with the UN to ease tensions. These forces have helped to end civil wars in Mozambique, El Salvador, and Cambodia.
Peacekeeping is not always easy. UN peacekeeping forces could not prevent massacres in Rwanda. In Somalia, the UN was forced to withdraw when a dangerous civil war was overtaking the country.
The biggest challenge to the UN peacekeeping forces is response time. The process of getting foreign countries to accept UN help often takes a long time. So, by the time UN forces arrive, conflicts may have gotten too bad for intervention.
Free Trade Agreements
A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is an agreement between two countries or more to agree on terms of trade. This agreement affects how goods are traded, how investors are treated, and property rights.
Free Trade Agreements can be between two or more countries, these are called multilateral trade agreements. These agreements are more complex to navigate since each country has its own needs and requests to be negotiated. These types of trade agreements make the nations involved more competitive since the trade alliance covers a vast amount of land. Those in a FTA agree to give partners the best mutual-trade terms and the lowest tariffs. Tariffs are taxes imposed for imports or exports.
The largest multilateral trade agreement is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA, also known as USMCA, is a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement between 12 countries including Australia, Singapore, Canada, and Chile. The United States withdrew from TPP in 2017.
When a trade agreement reaches beyond a regional level the World Trade Organization (WTO) gets involved to help negotiate and enforce the agreements.