Multilateralism

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Multilateralism

Post by jancancook on Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:29 am

The first[citation needed] modern instances of multilateralism occurred in the nineteenth century in Europe after the end of the Napoleonic Wars where the great powers met to redraw the map of Europe at the Congress of Vienna. The Concert of Europe, as it became known, was a group of great and lesser powers that would meet to resolve issues peacefully. Conferences such as the Conference of Berlin in 1884 helped reduce great power conflicts during this period, and the 19th century was one of Europe's most peaceful.[citation needed]

Industrial and colonial competition, combined with shifts in the balance of power after the creation - by diplomacy and conquest - of Germany by Prussia meant cracks were appearing in this system by the turn of the 20th century. The concert system was utterly destroyed by the First World War. After that conflict world leaders created the League of Nations in order to try to prevent another conflict of similar scale. A number of international arms limitation treaties were also signed such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But the League proved insufficient to prevent Japan's conquests in Eastern Asia in the 1930s, escalating fascist aggression and, ultimately, the outbreak of the Second World War from 1939.[citation needed]

After the Second World War the victors, having drawn experience from the failure of the League of Nations, created the United Nations in 1945 with a structure intended to address the weaknesses of the previous body. Unlike the League, the UN had the active participation of the United States and the Soviet Union, the world's two greatest contemporary powers. Along with the political institutions of the UN the post-war years also saw a wide array of other multilateral organizations such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) (now the World Trade Organization), the World Bank (so-called 'Bretton Woods' institutions) and the World Health Organization develop. The collective multilateral framework played an important role in maintaining world peace in the Cold War.[citation needed] Moreover, United Nations peacekeepers stationed around the world became one of the most visible symbols of multilateralism in recent decades.

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