What Is the Liberal World Order?

Explore the organizations and agreements that have promoted global peace and prosperity since the end of World War II, as well as the challenges that the liberal world order now faces in this video.

After World War II—the deadliest conflict in human history—countries sought to ensure the world never again devolved into such horrific violence.

World leaders created a series of international organizations and agreements to promote global cooperation based on a system known as the liberal world order. The United States has championed that system, promoting cooperation on issues including security, trade, health, and monetary policy, for the past seventy-five years. During that time, the world has enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity.

But those institutions are far from perfect, and today they are struggling to address new sources of disorder, such as climate change and a deadly pandemic. What’s more, democracy is on the decline around the world, authoritarianism is on the rise, and countries like China are deliberately chipping away at the liberal world order, creating parallel institutions of their own. Faced with those challenges, will the liberal world order survive? If a new system emerges, what will that mean for freedom, peace, and prosperity worldwide?