chapter
4 Pages

The Inter-American System

The devastation caused by the Second World War led statesmen to devote enormous energy toward constructing international institutions and other mechanisms that would preserve the peace. The United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (which later became the World Trade Organization) were global instruments designed to address states’ political differences and security concerns, fund post-war reconstruction and development projects, lend money to countries with balance of payment problems, and prevent the trade wars of the 1930s by facilitating a more open, liberal world economy. Two of these institution-the IMF and World Bank-would play critical roles in the 1980s and 1990s in helping Latin American states weather an international debt crisis and reshape their economic development policies. The post-war institution building efforts continued a pattern in international politics whereby at the conclusion of great, multi-state wars, major powers engineered significant changes in international order: Europe’s Thirty Years’ war produced the Peace of Westphalia and established the nation-state as the preeminent unit of international organization; the Napoleonic Wars produced the balance of power Concert of Europe system; and World War I led to the League of Nations.