with links to Wikipedia.
Click here for current World Leaders in 2023.
Go to the first Appendix with its links to US organizations: FBI, CIA, DEA, and ATF and the Australian equivalents: ASIO, AFP, ASIS, and the newly formed ONI.
Go to the second Appendix with its links to the World Trade Organization WTO preceded by GATT 1948 based in Geneva, ASEAN 1976 based in Indonesia, APEC 1989 based in Singapore, CPTPP 2018 based in Chile and RCEP 2022 based in Hanoi.
Go to BRICS, formed on the margins of a UN meeting in New York in 2006 incolving China, India, Russia and Brazil, with South Africa joining in 2010
Geneva Conventions and Red Cross Following the horrific conditions of the wounded in 1859 in Italy's war of independence from Austria, in 1864 Geneva set up the Geneva Conventions for "legal standards" in war. Also the Red Cross (Red Crescent in Turkiye in 1868) which spread worldwide. It opened in England in 1870, the US in 1881 and Australia in 1914.
League of Nations 1920-1946 based in Geneva, Switzerland
Click here for its Wikipedia entry. The League had had strong support by US President Woodrow Wilson, but many in the US Congress had reservations, and Wilson was unable to achieve the two-thirds vote required for the US to become a member.
The League Council acted as a type of executive body directing the Assembly's business. It began with four permanent members - Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan - and four non-permanent members that were elected by the Assembly for a three-year term. Initially established in London, it held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920,
In November 1920, the headquarters of the League moved from London to Geneva.
Most countries became members. The official languages were French and English. Germany joined in 1926 but withdrew in 1933, alongside Japan.
Italy withdrew in 1937. The Soviet Union joined in 1934, but was expelled after invading Finland in 1939.
The United Nations (UN) in New York replaced the League at the end of the Second World War and inherited several of its agencies and organisations.
United Nations is currently 193 member states plus two observer states West Bank and Vatican City.
Click here for its Wikipedia entry. Following the surprise Japanese attack on the US Territory of Pearl Harbour (on Dec 7 1941) coupled with Germany's declaration of war on the USA (on Dec 11 1941), on New Year's Day 1942 President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, Ambassador Litvinov of Russia, and Foreign Minister Soong of China signed a short document which later came to be known as the United Nations Declaration. At that time, the Russian leader Joseph Stalin with Chinese leaders Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Zedong had formed a somewhat "uneasy" alliance (Click here for some History) against their most powerful enemy, Japan.
Japan, with its proud Samurai traditions, had been involved in wars with China (starting inside Korea) since 1895, and with Russia ever since 1904.
The day after that US-UK-Russia-China Declaration, the representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures. In mid-1944 when France joined the original four, these five nations became the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
On 25 October 1971, over US opposition but supported by Russia France UK Italy and many Third World nations, the People's Republic of China in Beijing since 1949 was given the Chinese seat on the Security Council replacing Taiwan. The vote was seen by many as a sign of waning US influence in the organization. With an increasing Third World presence and the failure of UN mediation in conflicts in the Middle East, Vietnam, and Kashmir the UN increasingly shifted its attention to ostensibly secondary goals of economic development and cultural exchange.
Click here for further history of the Security Council.
IMF International Monetary Fund created in 1944.
Click here for its Quotas Allocations and SDRs, and a current status and balance sheet for Australia. Click here for the names of its 190 members reconciled with the 193 members at the UN.
Click here for Happiness Ranking report in 2023, of 133 of these countries. Many of the missing countries are very small, or chose not to participate.
WHO (World Health Organization) based in Geneva. Established in April 1948.
It took over from the
International Sanitary Conferences(1851-1938) based mostly in Paris, which looked specifically at worldwide epidemics like cholera and the need (or otherwise) for international quarantines.
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization created in 1949.
In 2023 with the admission of Finland, NATO consists of 31 member states.
Background In April 1949, the US Canada Iceland Norway and the UK, Denmark and Portugal, France Italy and Benelux were its original members, in a formal military alliance. It came after 1948's
West German banks had minimal gold and silver and were over their heads in debt. The object then was to create a new currency, and the banknotes finished printing for that in March 1948. Next cancel all liabilities to free the country's indebtedness, and greatly reduce the volume of paper money in the new currency to somewhat steady the market.
On Sunday, 20th June 1948, it was announced that all government debt in Reichsmarks was cancelled starting Monday 21st June. Privately owned banknotes and private bank deposits on that day would be credited in Deutschmark at the ratio of 10:1 via a newly forming "Bundesbank" (Federal Bank) in Frankfurt, half of this amount initially remaining out of reach in a blocked account, with 70% of the blocked amount subsequently cancelled on 4th October 1948, that freed up the final 30%.
Wages, rents, pensions converted 1:1. To tide everyone over, 60 Deutschmark notes maximum per capita (in two instalments: 40 then 20) were paid at 1:1 exchange for Reichsmark notes to the general population, 80 Deutschmarks per employee quota to businesses, and one-sixth of 6 months revenue (based on Oct 1947-Mar 1948 revenue) to public authorities. Subsequently, coins and notes up to 1 Reichsmark continued as legal tender but at one-tenth value. And with rationing relaxed and 12 years of price controls (imposed by Hitler back in 1936) immediately abolished, major price increases did occur but shop windows immediately started to fill, fed by very high velocity of this new, more valuable money.
Click here for further details. Click here for a US dollar and UK £ conversion table up to the euro.
Dreading an influx of now worthless Reichsmark notes, East Germany angrily responded by issuing their own Ostmark notes (later called the "DDR" Mark) using a 1:1 rate at 70 Ostmarks maximum per capita, and providing no debt monetization for private contracts including real estate. Awkwardly for both sides, while there was an area of Berlin overseen by the western allies, the city itself was inside the East German state of Brandenburg. In an endeavour to prevent people (and capital) abandoning the Ostmark for a more valuable Deutschmark, on Thursday 24th June the Russians implemented the Berlin Blockade, cutting off all electricity and rail transport to West Berlin citing "technical difficulties" — thus no traffic was allowed in or out — one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. On Saturday 26th June the "Berlin Airlift" commenced, delivering regular provisions to West Berlin.
In May 1949, with NATO's formation, the blockade ended.
The heart of NATO was expressed in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, in which the signatory members agreed that:-
"an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all - and consequently they agreed that, if such an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."
West Berlin was recognised as under the rule of these "western allies". It was a de facto part of West Germany. East Berlin was ruled by a separate parliament under Russian control, as the de facto capital city of East Germany, and permitted only a restricted access to and from the west. Bonn became the de facto capital of West Germany.
Click here for further background to NATO's beginnings.
In 1952, Turkey and Greece joined NATO. In 1955 when West Germany joined, Russia formed the Warsaw Pact involving Poland and other countries on its western flank. As numerous East German citizens continued to emigrate through West Berlin at the rate of 2000 per day, in August 1961 a concrete wall was commenced inside the city. It became the symbol of the "Iron Curtain", a phrase first used by Winston Churchill in 1946. The structure was up to 5 metres high, topped with barbed wire, guarded with watchtowers, machine gun emplacements, and mines. By the 1980s this system of walls and electrified fences extended 45 kms through Berlin and 120 kms around the city's western border, separating it from the rest of East Germany. The East Germans also erected an extensive barrier along most of the 1360-kilometre border between East and West.
The wall remained for 28 years, not coming down until November 1989 (click here for details) after Hungary dismantled its border fence with Austria. Monetary reunification occurred in July 1990. The East German mark was converted at par for wages prices and basic savings (up to a limit of 4,000 marks per person, though a smaller number for children, and a larger number for pensioners). Larger amounts of savings, company debts and housing loans were converted at a 2:1 rate whilst so-called "speculative money", acquired shortly before unification, was converted at a rate of 3:1. Political reunification followed in October 1990. In June 1991, the vote (narrowly won) decided that the Bundestag and many government offices would ultimately and officially relocate from Bonn to Berlin. This occurred on April 19 1999.
That vote was followed by the Warsaw Pact disbanding, in July 1991.
The G7 a forum for the world's major industrialized countries. Click here for further details.
The G20 extended the G7 by including six additional nations in Asia (Turkey, Russia, India, South Korea, China and Indonesia), three nations in South America (Brazil, Argentina and Chile) plus Mexico, South Africa, Australia, and the EU (currently represented by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council). The G20 was founded by German finance minister Hans Eichel, who hosted an inaugural meeting of central bank governors and finance ministers in Berlin in 1999. Its major instigators, leading to its first world summit in Washington DC in November 2008, were 1. its chairman Paul Martin (Finance Minister and later PM of Canada) and 2. his US counterpart Larry Summers (US Treasury Secretary).
Click here for a list of those world summits, now being held yearly ever since 2008.
Background In 1951 West Germany and France formed ECSC (The European Coal and Steel Community) along with Italy and the 3 smaller countries known as "Benelux" (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg).
In 1958 these six countries formed a second body called the EEC (European Economic Community) or Common Market, and a third body called Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community).
An elected Common Assembly for legislative purposes was shared by all three communities, named the European Parliamentary Assembly, and since 1962 the European Parliament with its de facto capital in Brussels.
Its current President is Roberta Metsola, from Malta.
In 1993 the EEC changed its name to the EU. Since 2020 and UK's exit, the EU is currently 27 nations.
European Commission formed in 1967
Background In 1951 it originated as the "High Authority" — the 9 member Executive of the ECSC. In 1967 it was disbanded, when it was merged into the Executive Commissions of the EEC and Euratom.
Its current President is Ursula von de Leyen, from Germany.
Council of European Communities today Council of the EU
In 1967, the EEC Council of Ministers from its member countries became the Council of European Communities, while merging into itself the Councils of the ECSC and Euratom.
The Presidency of the Council rotates every six months among the governments of its member states, with the relevant ministers of each respective country holding the Presidency at any given time, ensuring the smooth running of the meetings and setting the daily agenda.
Somewhat ambiguously, the heads of state of its member countries are formally referred to as the European Council.
Its current President is Charles Michel, from Belgium.
In 1995 the Schengen Agreement first implemented a proposal to abolish passport and any other type of border control at their mutual borders.
Initially signed in Luxembourg in 1985 by five of its then ten member countries Benelux France and Germany, this Schengen Area now includes 23 EU member countries, 4 extra non-EU countries, and 3 de facto member microstates. The 4 non-EU countries are Norway and Iceland since 2001, Switzerland since 2008, and tiny Liechtenstein since 2011. The 3 "micro-states" with their open (or semi-open) borders: Vatican City (inside Rome), San Marino (inside north-eastern Italy), and Monaco (on the French Riviera).
In 1999 the EU created the Eurozone for 11 of its member countries, using a new currency they call the euro, and its capital stock owned by the central banks of all 27 EU member states. The headquarters for the
Since 2007, 8 extra EU countries have been added, making 20 in this Eurozone in total. Among non-EU member states, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City have formal agreements with the EU to use the euro as their official currency and issue their own coins. In addition Kosovo and Montenegro have adopted the euro unilaterally. These six countries have no representation in the eurozone.
Its current President since November 2019 is Christine Lagarde, from France.
Brexit In 2016, the UK voted in a plebiscite to leave the EU in 2019, which was implemented at the start of 2020.
Click here for the latest summary in Wikipedia.
Now for two lists of who joined NATO and the EU, and when.
Click a column heading, e.g. "Nation", to sort and align the two lists showing who is in one but not in the other. Click REFRESH to restore original layout.
Significant nations not included in NATO are Ireland (well for many years of course it was in conflict with England) and also Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, and until 2023 Finland, who have always preferred a "peaceable" neutrality. In April 2023 following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Finland was admitted. Sweden also applied to become a member, although its membership was opposed by Turkey and Hungary.
Recent news July 2023 Just prior to NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Turkish President Erdogan linked Sweden's ascension to NATO membership to Turkey's application for EU membership. Turkey had applied for EU membership in 1999, but talks made little progress since 2016. On 10 July 2023, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg declared that Turkey had agreed to support Sweden's accession into NATO, who confirmed so two days later. However, he said it would be passed in October due to a parliamentary recess. Once word was received that Turkey would be supporting Sweden, Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, stated that Hungary too would support their membership.
With regards to the EU and the euro, Switzerland retains its own currency, the Swiss franc, but regularly accepts and exchanges euros in its business dealings.
Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI
The FBI is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, and its principal federal law enforcement agency. It operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. Click here for a timeline to all their Directors. Key men below.
President Richard Nixon appointed Louis Patrick Gray as his successor, but he failed to get Senate confirmation. Thus Gray was an acting Director only, and had to resign one year later after admitting to destroying documents related to the Watergate break-in, back in June 1972. He was succeeded by another acting director.
Two other investigative bodies in the US Dept of Justice are
Central Intelligence Agency CIA
The Central Intelligence Agency CIA was formed in 1947 from the National Intelligence Authority, formed in 1946 after World War 2 to do investigative work on national security matters in overseas countries. Since 2005, its director reports to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines since January 2021, who reports directly to the US President.
Department of Homeland Security
And in response to the September 11 attacks in 2001, a major development was the creation of this department, incorporating areas previously overseen by the FBI as well as the Departments of Administration, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Justice, Treasury and Transportation.
Australian Security Intelligence Organization ASIO
In Australia, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization ASIO was formed after World War 2 as Australia's equivalent to the CIA and FBI, specifically to protect Australia from espionage, sabotage, foreign interference and politically motivated violence. Works closely with the Commonwealth Police (now known as Australian Federal Police) and Australian Border Force.
ASIO also has a smaller brother ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) whose employees are deployed in overseas intelligence, working with foreign intelligence agencies (such as the CIA or MI6). While that includes planning for paramilitary and violent operations, ASIS does not have permission to be involved in the execution of such operations.
Office of National Intelligence ONI
In December 2018 the Office of National Intelligence ONI was formed as a portfolio agency of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is an Australian statutory intelligence agency directly accountable to the Prime Minister of Australia, the Australian equivalent of the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the United Kingdom Joint Intelligence Organisation.
Since November 2020 the director-general has been Andrew Shearer, succeeding Nick Warner, the inaugural director-general.
World Trade Organization was founded in 1995, based in Geneva Switzerland. It provides a framework for negotiating trade agreements between member countries, with the usual aim of reducing or eliminating tariffs, quotas, and other restrictions. Its current Director-General is from Nigeria since 2021, previously Brazil 2013-2021.
Background Its predecessor was called GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) formed on 1 January 1948. The 23 founding members were: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, Chile, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, India, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Southern Rhodesia, Syria, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. Following the creation of the EU and the breakup of the USSR, the WTO came into force.
The WTO has had 164 members since 2016, click here for a full list. Entities are eligible for full membership in the WTO provided that they have a separate customs territory with full autonomy in the conduct of their external commercial relations. Of the 128 states party to GATT at the end of 1994, all have become members except Yugoslavia (dissolved), Syria and Lebanon. The WTO includes the 27 states of the European Union, as well as the EU itself. Taiwan acceded to the WTO in 2002 as the "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei)". Russia joined in 2012. Iran is currently an observer state.
ASEAN (pronounced as three syllables A-SEA-AN) officially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a political and economic union of 10 member states Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. Its first summit meeting was held in Bali in Indonesia in 1976 with its headquarters today in Jakarta.
Background ASEAN was preceded by an organisation formed on 31 July 1961 called the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) based in Bangkok, a group consisting of Thailand, the Philippines, and the Federation of Malaya.
Another group SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) of 8 states led by the United States and United Kingdom along with Australia, New Zealand, France, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand. It had been founded in Manila in the Philippines in 1954 as a "containment" extension and an eastern version of the early defensive bulwark NATO in western Europe of 1949. Its first meeting was in Bangkok in 1955. However, the local member states of ASEAN group achieved greater cohesion in the mid-1970s following a change in the balance of power after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975 and the decline of SEATO. It dissolved in June 1977.
APEC Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, based in Singapore with Chairperson US President Joe Biden, is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It includes US Canada Mexico Chile and Peru in the Americas. Also Russia as part of the Pacific Rim. It started as a series of conferences in 1989 in Canberra under PM Bob Hawke and his Foreign Affairs Minister Gareth Evans.
The CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) with its headquarters in Santiago Chile is a trade agreement among Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. It was signed 8 March 2018, and became effective 30 December 2018. It evolved from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signed on 4 February 2016, which was never ratified due to the withdrawal of the United States. The TPP began as an expansion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP) signed in Wellington New Zealand by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore in 2005.
The RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) with its headquarters in Hanoi Vietnam is a trade agreement among Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Negotiations were formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. At the time they included India, though India withdrew in 2019. It was signed 15 November 2020 at a virtual conference due to COVID and became effective 1 January 2022.
The foreign ministers of the initial four BRIC General states (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) met in New York City in September 2006 at the margins of the General Debate of the UN Assembly, beginning a series of high-level meetings. A full-scale diplomatic meeting was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 16 June 2009. In its aftermath, the BRIC nations announced the need for a new global reserve currency.
South Africa officially became a member nation on 24 December 2010, after being formally invited by China to join and subsequently accepted by other BRIC countries. The group was renamed BRICS.
At the BRICS leaders meeting in St Petersburg in September 2013, China committed $41 billion towards the pool; Brazil, India, and Russia $18 billion each; and South Africa $5 billion. China, who holds the world's largest foreign exchange reserves and contributes the bulk of the currency pool, wants a more significant managing role, said one BRICS official. China also wants to be the location of the reserve. "Brazil and India want the initial capital to be shared equally. We know that China wants more," said a Brazilian official. "However, we are still negotiating, there are no tensions arising yet."
The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, formed in Fortaleza, Brazil in July 2014 having an initial authorized capital of US$100 billion, and an initial subscribed capital of US$50 billion with each country contributing US$10 billion. In a separate agreement, a reserve currency pool worth $100 billion was set up by BRICS nations, with headquarters in Shanghai, China.
On March 3 2022 NDB announced that it put new transactions with Russia on hold.
In May 2023 Saudi Arabia expressed its intention to join the NDB.
London: The BRICS group of countries has invited Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates to join the club, which China wants to operate as a rival to the G7. BRICS currently comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; the latter hosted this year’s summit in Johannesburg. The proposed expansion would more than double the number of member states.
The BRICS leaders said in their declaration at the end of the summit that the new members would be admitted from January 1.
The group wants to reduce its reliance on using the American dollar to settle global trade but has so far been incapable of producing a viable alternative. China’s President Xi Jinping, who has played a greater role in the Middle East including helping broker a deal between Tehran and Riyadh, hailed the expansion as historic. “It shows the determination of BRICS countries for unity and co-operation with the broader developing countries,” he said.
China had been pushing for the group to grow while India had expressed reluctance. However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi backed the outcome. “Adding new members will further strengthen BRICS and give it a new impetus,” he said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said more countries could be included in the future. “BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous,” Ramaphosa said. “We have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process and other phases will follow.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi celebrated his country’s invitation with a swipe at Washington. “The expansion of BRICS shows that the unilateral approach is on the way to decay,” Iran’s Arabic-language television network Al Alam quoted him as saying.
But Argentina’s centre-right presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich opposed her country joining while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remained ongoing. “We believe in an international order based on rules to preserve peace,” she said.
BRICS has expanded only once before, when it admitted South Africa, a year after its founding in 2009. But there has been a rush of emerging countries applying to join amid dissatisfaction that the current world order disproportionately favours the West. With two oil-rich OPEC members among the new entrants, they would add financial heft and introduce the Islamic world to BRICS.
“I think this summit has given BRICS a shot in the arm and also a dose of vindication,” Michael Kugelman from the Woodrow Wilson Centre’s South Asia Institute said in an online briefing for selected journalists. “BRICS has managed to counter two core criticisms of the group. One is that it struggles to agree and the other that it is increasingly irrelevant.”
Modi, for example, spoke to Xi on the sidelines of the summit to highlight concerns India has about border issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India’s foreign secretary said. Modi and Xi agreed “to direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said. Relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been sour for more than three years after soldiers from both sides clashed in the Himalayan frontier in June 2020, resulting in 24 deaths.
Kugelman said Washington would be watching with more concern but that with 11 members compared to five, this would pose challenges for BRICS which operates on consensus.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin, for whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant over the kidnapping of Ukrainian children, attended virtually. Putin said via video link: “The countries of the so-called Golden Billion have gone to great lengths to preserve the unipolar world as it used to be.”
(The “Golden Billion” is a favourite Kremlin conspiracy theory that claims “1 billion global elites” seek to hoard the world’s wealth while leaving everyone else, in this case BRICS members, to suffer.)
Putin said: “It suits them, and they are the ones who benefit from it. They are trying to substitute international law with their own rules-based order, as they call it, but no one has seen these rules.”
Russia will host BRICS next year in Kazan. Kugelman said while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should serve as a deterrent to new entrants, it would not. “Over half by GDP has denounced Russia’s actions but over half by population have not,” he said. “It’s an ongoing struggle for the United States and Ukraine and its allies to make people understand how aggressive, and frankly evil this war in Ukraine launched by Russia is. That’s on us to do but it’s also on the rest of the world to be receptive to understanding the reality of that war and the consequences of that worldwide, on food, on security, on energy security and on inflation.”
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