The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization to promote international co-operation. A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The headquarters of the United Nations is in Manhattan, New York City, and experiences extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states.
Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was established to help build a new, post-Cold War era in Central and Eastern Europe. It has since played a historic role and gained unique expertise in fostering change in the region – and beyond.
Commitment to entrepreneurship
The EBRD is committed to furthering progress towards ‘market-oriented economies and the promotion of private and entrepreneurial initiative’. This has been its guiding principle since its creation at the beginning of the 1990s and, new challenges and the welcoming of new countries to the EBRD world notwithstanding, will continue to be its mission in years to come.
A turning point in the history of Europe
The EBRD was set up in haste to meet the challenge of an extraordinary moment in Europe’s history, the collapse of communism in its East. In fact, a mere 18 months elapsed between the first mooting of the idea of a European bank, by President François Mitterrand of France, in October 1989 and its opening for business with headquarters in London in April 1991.
Urgency and the ability to respond to momentous events swiftly and decisively, whether it be the end of the Soviet Union, financial crises or the ‘Arab Spring,’ have been among the EBRD’s hallmarks from the start.
During the frenetic years of the early 1990s the EBRD’s emphasis on the private sector as the main driver for change in Central and Eastern Europe was vindicated many times over. This was the period that established the EBRD’s reputation as an expert on transition to the open market.
It was heavily involved in areas such as banking systems reform, the liberalisation of prices, privatisation (legalisation and policy dialogue) and the creation of proper legal frameworks for property rights, all vital ingredients for change.