It is now more than half a century since the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions were created. However, the world has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. The technological revolution in transport and communications has eroded the barriers of distance and time. National economies have become more closely integrated through cross-border flows of trade, investment and finance. And there is now a myriad of new actors — from trans-national firms to NGOs — participating in international relations and the global economy. The concern is that the current system of international organization seems incapable of dealing with either the ‘old’ problems that persist or the ‘new’ problems that have surfaced. In the twenty-first century, almost one third of the people in the developing world, or more than one billion people, live in absolute poverty and cannot meet their basic human needs (Collier 2007: 3). The same number does not have access to clean water. And new problems have surfaced: the number of humanitarian crises, with their legacy of death, displacement and destruction, has risen dramatically over the past two decades, and some of the new problems are a direct consequence of globalization.
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