6.6.6 Global Political Institutions

The global political institutions were founded after the Second World War, to prevent further wars, but the UN is now largely powerless.

Countries decided to abide by a system of international law, administered by the United Nations (UN) organisation – which describes its structure on its website:

“The United Nations (UN) has six main organs. Five of them — the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the Secretariat — are based at UN Headquarters in New York. The sixth, the International Court of Justice, is located at The Hague in the Netherlands.

The United Nations is neither a supra-State nor a government of governments. It does not have an army and it imposes no taxes. It depends on the political will of its Member States to have its decisions put into action and relies on the contributions of its Members to carry out its activities.”

The complexity of the resulting structure is indicated by a chart, The United Nations System, which also reveals the extent of its scope as being the principal organisational umbrella for international collaboration.  Earlier chapters have described the role of some its subsidiary bodies:

●  The World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulates trade (3.5.4).

●  Several bodies under the Economic and Social Council co-ordinate the world’s financial organs (3.4.4) and the global responses to environmental and health challenges (3.5.7).

●  International law (5.3.6) involves both legal and political decision-making.

The following sub-sections examine the global political institutions and their limitations:

●  The UN objectives span all the dimensions of governance, as laid out in its charter (,

●  Political disagreements between the five permanent members of the Security Council have rendered the UN unable to prevent wars (

●  Some loose political collaborations, such as the G7 and the G20, were formed to promote the interests of their members (  They have considerable political power over other countries, although they do not have formal authority.



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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/666a.htm.