|Picture Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten|
The founders of the UN believed that the horrors of World War II had sprung largely from the Great Depression of the 1930s. So they gave the new organization wide powers in the social and economic field, seeing such work as laying the basis for future peace as well as human well-being. The Charter speaks of the UN promoting "higher standards of living" and creating "conditions of economic and social progress and development." Since 1945, idealism has ebbed and conservative forces asserted themselves. Rich nations and powerful companies have increasingly opposed UN powers over economic and social matters, preferring the unfettered operation of markets or the regulatory intervention of conservative institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. Still, over the years, the UN has nurtured alternative policy ideas and a more egalitarian approach to global society. Following from the Charter and building on pre-existing international bodies, the UN and its related family of institutions have contributed to global policy making on a wide range of social and economic issues.