6.6.6 Global Political Institutions

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/666a.htm)

Following the Second World War, in order to prevent further similar occurrences, 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 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.

This section is primarily concerned with how political decisions are taken.  The following sub-sections further examine the way the UN operates (6.6.6.1), some problems arising from how politicians have put its principles into practice (6.6.6.2), and some other global institutions that have political power (6.6.6.3).

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