Explain and evaluate participation by the United States government in international organizations.

  • The United Nations
    • Historical Overview of the League of Nations
  • The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

Go here for a list of International Organization Membership of the United States

The United Nations

external image UN_General_Assembly.jpg

rotating gif.gifFor more on the formation of the United Nations, see World History WHII.29

Antonio Guterres of Portugal
Antonio Guterres of Portugal

The UN at a Glance from the United Nations website provides an overview of the organization.

Country at a Glance provides an overview of all UN member states.


Biography for Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Click here for his homepage.

UN Security Council Profile from the BBC

external image Red_apple.jpg The United Nations and Reform: Background, Activities and Critical Analysis

Read about the day the US Senate approved US participation in the UN here
Displaced women and children in Mali, 2012
Displaced women and children in Mali, 2012


  • Against All Odds from the United Nations Regional Information Center focuses on problems facing refugees.


For an overview, see "Finding the Hidden UN," Brian Urquhart, The New York Review of Books, May 27, 2010 (pp. 26-28). Key points from his article include:
  • "At its founding the United Nations was widely perceived by the public as a fundamentally idealistic institution that would change the way nations behaved." Yet, the three most powerful forming nations—the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union—did not have that type of change in mind. Rather, the UN was in the words of historian C. K. Webster, "an Alliance of the Great Powers embedded in a universal organization."
  • "Starting in the 1950s, the organization improvised a new method, peacekeeping operations, to contain brush fire conflicts that might ignite an East-West confrontation, particularly in the Middle East."
  • "The UN was a catalyst for decolonization, a process that went much faster than its founders had anticipated. . . . Economic and social development became the predominant task of the UN and its specialized agencies and programs—World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, and UNICEF among them—that make up the so-called 'UN system'."

See also What's Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix It, Thomas G. Weiss (Polity, 2008).

primary_sources.PNGClick here to view a 1940s short animated film about the United Nations titled "Another Chance."

Multimedia.png Click here to view an overview video about how the United Nations works from RMIT University.

The Image below shows the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations begins on September 25, 2007. According to tradition since the 1970's, a Brazilian gives the inaugural speech. Photo byMarcello Casal, Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency
external image UN_62nd_General_Assembly.jpg

Wikipedia offers a brief overview of the role of the United States in the formation of the United Nations. Note the controversy around the neutrality of the article.

Here are official sites on America's relationship to the United Nations:
The United States Mission to the United Nations

Bureau of International Organizational Affairs

Read more: http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/E-N/International-Organization-Democratic-constitutionalism-versus-international-commitments.html#ixzz0mDfjvboU

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.31.08 AM.pngClick here for lesson plans about the United Nations offered by the UN website.

See the United Nations CyberSchoolBus for more teaching resources and materials.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.56.56 PM.pngThe United Nations has made strides in LGBT equality, detailed on their 'Free & Equal' campaign page.
  • Another page from the United Nations Human Rights website, titled "Speak Up Stop Discrimination", aims to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Also be sure to read an article from msnbc.com detailing the UN's passing of a resolution on behalf of international LGBT citizens here.

The League of Nations

For more information on the League of Nations see WHII 14

Preceding the formation of the United Nations on January 1, 1942 , was the attempt to form the League of Nations.
President Woodrow Wilson attempted to engage the United States into a dialogue with other Nations through the League of Nations. There was much opposition to his desires underscoring the dilemma of a democratic government.
Multimedia.pngHere is a photo link and essay on key facts.
primary_sources.PNGHere is a speech made by Woodrow Wilson to appeal to the people of the United States.

Here is a brief history of the League of Nations

Click here for a lesson plan on the League of Nations

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund

external image 320_worldbank-logo.jpg
In July 1944, as World War II was still being fought, delegates from the Allied Nations met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to discuss how best to rebuild the global economy.
  • Concerned with preventing another Great Depression and creating a more stable global economy in the wake of the devastating war, the delegates created the World Bank and IMF, both of which officially came into existence in December 1945.
  • The stated goal of the World Bank is to fight poverty around the globe.
  • The stated goal of the IMF is to promote economic cooperation and financial stability around the globe.
    • Both are headquartered in Washington, D.C. and the United States plays a very important role in both of them.
    • Ten of the eleven World Bank Presidents have been American, and the United States has nearly 17% of the votes in the 187-member IMF.

Read about US involvement in the World Bank here

lesson_plan_icon.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on the World Bank and IMF

Female_Rose.pngCaroline Anstey is current Managing Director of the World Bank.

Although, the stated goals of these organizations are laudable, many have been very critical of both. For a more critical view you can visit the Bretton Woods Project.


Multimedia.pngView the IMF's YouTube channel here

external image Red_apple.jpg
An Economic Snapshot. This lesson plan from PBS deals with the global economy, including the United States involvement in the World Bank and IMF, as well as the current economic downturn.

[1] http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/E-N/International-Organization-Democratic-constitutionalism-versus-international-commitments.html
accessed April 26, 2010