What Is the Liberal World Order?

The liberal world order is a collection of multilateral intergovernmental organizations, international institutions, treaties, international law, civil society, and norms of international behavior, including international consensus, which govern the interactions of nations and cross-border commercial, civil society, and individual transactions and movement, focused primarily on economic and political order, but with some emphasis on social and cultural development and exchange as well.

Loosely speaking, what we now call the liberal world order developed in the aftermath of World War II as an effort to assure that conflicts similar to the two world wars of the 20th century would never happen again.

The United Nations is certainly a key, core element of the liberal world order, but there’s so much more to it. This informal paper provides only the briefest summary. Much more detail is contained in the companion paper Elements of the Liberal World Order.

In a nutshell, the liberal world order pursues these missions:

  1. Security. Recognizing borders. Resolving disputes without resorting to military action. Alliances. Avoiding war and armed conflict, at all costs.
  2. Economic. Stable money and foreign exchange. Finance and international banking. Economic activity (commerce), growth, prosperity. Development of infrastructure. International trade. Alleviation of poverty.
  3. Democracy. Promoting democracy and human rights. People controlling their own destiny.
  4. Technology. Innovation. Standards.
  5. Food security. Fighting famine and hunger. Response to disasters which threaten or damage food supplies.
  6. Health and medicine.
  7. Cultural exchange. Heritage. History. Education. Arts.
  8. Sociopolitical integration. Not world government, but not every country for itself either.

Or in an even briefer nutshell, the liberal world order fills the gaps between and across countries.

The liberal world order is not designed to be world government, but again, focus on filling the gaps between nations. To make the world more seamless, but allowing each country to maintain its own distinctive culture and identity.

That’s it in a nutshell. Much more detail is contained in the companion paper Elements of the Liberal World Order. This informal paper serves primarily as a placeholder to most simply answer the question What is the liberal world order?.

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