Six Essential International Organizations You Need to Know

Learn about the most prominent international organizations tackling the world’s biggest issues in this free resource.

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International Organizations

Click click through to learn about each organization.

Teaching Resources—Globalization: Introduction (including lesson plan with slides)
Higher Education Discussion Guide 

What are international organizations?

In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, some issues are too big for countries to handle on their own. Countries need to work together, and they do so in part through international organizations that facilitate cooperation and encourage diplomatic solutions to global problems.

This is an introduction to six of the world's most prominent international organizations: the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Group of Twenty (G20), and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Many of these organizations were created to promote global peace and prosperity, including through governance of international security, trade, and monetary policy, forming part of the liberal world order.

The need for continued cooperation

As the issues tackled on a global level evolve, international institutions need to adapt. The World Trade Organization has been criticized for not updating its rules to meet the needs of new technological developments; the United Nations Security Council has been critiqued for preserving an outdated balance of power; and concerns abound over the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. More generally, critics are concerned that international institutions such as these require too much political will and resourcing to be nimble enough to respond to urgent issues. 

Still, organizations that foster international cooperation are in place to help countries navigate potentially volatile issues diplomatically. In a world that’s more connected than ever before, institutions like these have an important role to play.