After World War II—the deadliest conflict in human history—countries sought to ensure the world never again devolved into such horrific violence.

World leaders created a series of international organizations and agreements to promote global cooperation on issues including security, trade, health, and monetary policy. The United States has championed this system—known as the liberal world order—for the past seventy-five years. During this time, the world has enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity.

But these institutions are far from perfect, and today they are struggling to address new sources of disorder, such as climate change and a deadly pandemic. What’s more, democracy is on the decline around the world, authoritarianism is on the rise, and countries like China are deliberately chipping away at the liberal world order, creating parallel institutions of their own. Faced with these challenges, will the liberal world order survive? If a new system emerges, what will that mean for freedom, peace, and prosperity worldwide?

In this module, we will

  • outline the authority and limitations of the UN Security Council in ensuring global peace;
  • explore the challenges of holding governments accountable for violating international law;
  • evaluate the success of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in promoting trade, development, and economic stability;
  • investigate how the World Trade Organization has contributed to a decades-long boom in free trade; and
  • learn about the role of the World Health Organization in safeguarding global health and its shortcomings in coordinating an effective international response to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Referenced Module