The Past 50 Years
The horrors done during the wars so frightened and appalled the world that the United Nations (known as the UN) was started.
Its aims are:
► to stop war happening again;
► to establish human rights;
► to build international law (which governs the relations between nations); and
► to help world-wide social and economic progress.
The United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR, later replaced by Russia), China, France and Britain sit in the Security Council, together with a ten other nations elected by the General Assembly (see below). Their decisions are international law. But the nations still had not learnt their lesson. For many years the political struggle between the capitalist nations (led by the USA) and the communists (led by the USSR) paralyzed the Council.
Almost all nations send representatives to the General Assembly, where they can express their feelings on any subject. But their decisions are not law, and the representatives are not elected by the people but chosen by national governments. One of the first acts of the General Assembly was to proclaim the . It is one of the most important documents ever written.
Almost all the old colonial powers were too weary of war to keep their colonies, none of which made a profit. These became independent countries, but usually supported by one of the two power blocks. Wars among these small nations supported by the super-powers continued.
Capitalism created great wealth and many new technologies, but it did not work well for everybody. It led to high unemployment, big differences between rich and poor, and to the growth of monopolies in which one company could control a market. So governments began to soften the effects of capitalism by providing unemployment benefit, health care and other services, and to end monopolies.
Communism failed to create wealth for its people, did not inspire them to work hard, and could not afford the military technology which capitalist countries invented. After much suffering communism was finally overthrown in most countries and America became the sole remaining world power.
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