Organizations Established to Address Global Concerns

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  • 0:01 Global Concerns and Solutions
  • 0:51 Intergovernmental…
  • 3:18 Non-governmental Organizations
  • 4:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will explore how international organizations have developed to address concerns in an increasingly globalized world. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Global Concerns and Solutions

Let's say that the entire world is a city. There are many parts to the city, from firefighters to postal workers to teachers. There are apartments and stores and schools. Each part of the city has its own needs and its own problems, but it's still connected to other parts. Now, each part of the city could handle their own problems; the schools could handle their own mail, and the stores could dispose of their own trash, but it's much more efficient for the city to address these concerns.

This is sort of what the world is like right now. We are becoming more and more of a global community, and people are realizing that sometimes it's better to work together than try and handle everything on your own. In order to deal with the concerns of a global world, from human rights to international trade, organizations have emerged that are focused on the world, not just one part of it.

Intergovernmental Organizations

The most basic form of international regulation is through intergovernmental organizations, or organizations comprising several different governments, working together in international cooperation. In other words, they are not subject to the laws or policies of one single nation. There is no king or emperor or president who controls them; they are purely international, which is a pretty cool idea. If the world was a school and each department was a nation, then intergovernmental organizations would be like the administration. They are not specifically connected to one discipline but try to ensure that resources and conflicts between the departments are handled fairly.

One of the most well-known intergovernmental organizations is the United Nations, or the UN. The UN was founded in 1945 after the end of World War II to prevent such a violent international conflict from ever occurring again. The strength of the UN comes from the number of nations who participate in it. When it was first founded, there were 51 members, today there are 193. By uniting nations in a common goal of peace, the UN is able to put significant economic, political, and social pressure on non-compliant nations.

In the last few decades, the UN has substantially grown in size and power, and it is now the leading intergovernmental organization in the world. It has six branches, each tasked with a different aspect of international administration. These oversee international security, peace efforts, economic cooperation, human rights, and environmental issues. The UN also houses dozens of specific agencies focused on specific concerns, such as global heritage, famine relief, and medicine.

Although the UN is perhaps the largest intergovernmental organization, there are several others, up to 5,000 of varying degrees in size and scope. Most of them are more targeted towards specific issues than the UN. Some are concerned with the environment, others with arms control, sustainable energy production, international trade, law enforcement or cultural management. These organizations can have significant impacts on the world.

The World Bank Group, for example, attempts to reduce poverty by offering loans to help poor countries develop education, health, agriculture, and modern industries. In 2012 alone, they provided nearly $30 billion in loans and assistance to nations in need. The World Trade Organization regulates international trade to encourage open markets that are accessible to more nations. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, combines national defense systems to tighten international security.

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