For centuries, mankind has struggled to find ways to organize international life and restrain the chaos and conflict that have so often plagued it. The increasing destructiveness of warfare and the accelerating pace of economic globalization have made that quest more urgent. But the search for structures to govern the world has always encountered forces that push in the other direction. The desire for uninhibited national sovereignty has been a consistent check on movements for global governance. As daunting have been simple coordination problems. What mission should international organizations have? Who should control them and to whom are they responsible? How should they be funded?
Today there exists a group of powerful but incomplete and often flawed institutions, including the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the International Criminal Court, the European Union, the African Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Other less formal global governance initiatives have also emerged as important factors. Understanding the complex interactions between these initiatives and national governments and individuals is essential to understanding contemporary world politics.
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