International organizations have played an increasingly important role in foreign policy. Foreign policy is the plan a country has for interacting with other countries. One of the most important roles played by any international organization is the prevention of war and other forms of global conflict. International organizations fall into three categories: diplomatic, economic, and military.
Diplomatic Organizations To be diplomatic means to be involved with managing relations between countries. Diplomatic organizations promote understanding between nations and work to prevent serious conflicts. Two important diplomatic organizations in recent history are the League of Nations (1919-1939) and the United Nations (UN) (1945-present). The League of Nations was formed after World War I. It was an organization of 65 countries that joined together to try to stop such a war from ever happening again. The United States never joined the League. Many Americans believed joining the organization would threaten US independence. In addition, Americans wished to return to a policy of isolationism. Isolationism is the unwillingness to become involved in the affairs of the world.
The League of Nations lacked any power to enforce its decisions. It finally collapsed with the beginning of World War II.
The UN was formed at the end of World War II. US leaders realized the need for an international peacekeeping organization. World War II showed them that isolationism was no longer in the best interests of the country. Instead, the United States became increasingly involved in world affairs. Due to this new outlook, the United States was the first nation to ratify, or sign, the UN charter in 1945.
The UN was established, or set up, to keep peace among nations and to encourage friendly interaction among all the nations of the world. The UN helps countries cooperate to solve economic and social problems . As of 2013, the UN is composed of 193 ,m embers. Their goal is to promote basic human rights throughout the world.
The General Assembly of the UN is made up of one representative from each member nation. These representatives vote on questions of world peace and other issues. Most of the UN’s real decision-making power, however, resides in the powerful Security Council. It consists of 15 members, five of which are permanent: the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and France. The Security Council investigates disagreements that might threaten world peace. The General Assembly and the Security Council together choose the UN secretary-general. The secretary-general is the organization’s spokesperson and leader.
The UN provides a way for nations to air their disagreements and for diplomats to communicate with one another. The UN also organizes international peacekeeping forces to oversee the settlement of disputes. To accomplish its peacekeeping goals, the UN undertakes military operations around the world. More than 100 countries contribute troops to these peacekeeping operations.
The UN includes many important agencies. The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes better health for the people of the world. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) works to increase food production and improve distribution of food. The Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) provides education about people and cultures, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides assistance to children in developing countries.
International economic organizations encourage world trade, find loans for economic development, and obtain, or get, better markets for exports. Economic organizations also provide forums, or meetings, for settling trade disagreements between countries. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was formed to regulate the oil production of member countries in order to control world oil prices. The organization was founded in 1960 by five oil-producing countries: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Today the group has 12 ~embers, which produce about 40 percent of the world’s oil-producing
The European Union (EU) is an organization of 27 nations from both Western and Eastern Europe. These countries have joined together to formulate common economic, social, and security policies. The organization has taken many steps to unify Europe. For example, the EU has its own currency: the euro. Major decisions for the union are made by the Council of Ministers. This group is composed of an ever-changing membership, depending on the issue under discussion.
Military alliances are formed to provide countries with defense and security. An alliance is a formal agreement that establishes an association between nations. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance mad: up o: the United States, Canada, and 26 European nations. It was established m ~949. The United States entered into several international alliances following World War II with the goal of preventing future aggression from the Soviet Union.
Members of NATO have agreed to settle disputes peacefully and to support each other in the event of attack from another country. This idea is set out in the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or in North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”
Other international security alliances begun after World War II include the ANZUS Pact (which includes Australia, New Zealand, and the United States) and the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio-Pact), which joins the United States, Canada, and much of Latin America.