equipped to handle problems of a global magnitude has led to an increase in the

Equipped to handle problems of a global magnitude has

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equipped to handle problems of a global magnitude has led to an increase in the number of organizations dedicated to solving global problems through international coordination and action. Often categorized as nongovernmental international organi- zations and governmental international organizations, these institutions are impor- A photographer captured the ruin of Saddam Hussein in this image of a tiled mural pitted and pocked by the destruction in Baghdad as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. ben06937.Ch40_1130-1168.qxd 8/31/07 8:22 AM Page 1154
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tant because they have the potential to tackle problems that do not respect territorial boundaries and are beyond the reach of national governments. Contemporary efforts at global cooperation have antecedents in the past. A proto- typical nongovernmental organization (NGO) is the Red Cross, an international hu- manitarian agency. Founded on the initiative of the Swiss philanthropist Jean Henri Dunant (1828–1910), this agency was originally dedicated to alleviating the suffer- ings of wounded soldiers, prisoners of war, and civilians in time of war. In 1864 the representatives of twelve nations signed the first Geneva Convention, which laid down the rules for the treatment of the wounded and the protection of medical personnel and hospitals. The convention adopted the red cross as a symbol of neutral aid. (Most Muslim countries use a red crescent.) Later protocols—signed by most nations—re- vised and amended the original principles enunciated in the first Geneva Convention to include protection for noncombatants as well. The Red Cross ultimately extended its mission to peacetime, rendering medical aid and other help for victims of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and famines. An especially prominent contemporary NGO is Greenpeace, founded in 1970, an environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of the earth’s natural re- sources and its diverse animal and plant life. In their pursuit of a green and peaceful world, Greenpeace activists have gained international notoriety and fame for their dar- ing exploits, which are calculated to attract media attention to environmental con- cerns. With the world watching, Greenpeace members in small rubber rafts have disrupted whaling expeditions by placing themselves between the whales and the hunters’ harpoons. On other occasions, Greenpeace has convinced major news net- works to broadcast disturbing pictures of the slaughter of baby harp seals. After getting the attention of the media, Greenpeace activists worked to prevent further slaughter by spraying red paint on the seals, making their fur worthless for commercial purposes. The premier international governmental organization is the United Nations, which superseded the League of Nations (1920–1946). This association of sovereign nations attempts to find solutions to global problems and to deal with virtually any matter of concern to humanity. Unlike a national parliament, the UN does not legislate. Yet, in
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