JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What happened at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 - Global Economy Notes

What happened at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

A quick recap on what the “Bretton Woods” system – loosely described as a “three-legged stool” that features the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now called the World Trade Organisation)
[Video by Center for Strategic & International Studies]

Historical Context
Amidst the ongoing World War Two, world leaders from 44 nations, including USA and Soviet Union, attended a conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in July 1944.

As the Great Powers envisioned a world that is free from Nazi and Japanese occupation, there were calls for a global financial order. Two institutions were established following the Bretton Woods Conference: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) [later known as the World Bank].

1. The International Monetary Fund
Before the Conference, Harry Dexter White (Special Assistant to the US Secretary of the Treasury) and John Maynard Keynes (advisory to the British Treasury) carried out plans in 1942.

Their drafts include the creation of organisations that provide financial assistance to countries that are experiencing balance of payment deficits. Eventually, there was common consensus to pursue fixed exchange rates at the global level.

On 21 April 1944, leaders of the Allied Powers released a joint statement that officially declared the creation of the IMF. The IMF was responsible for the maintenance of a system of fixed exchange rates.

In particular, it was based on a Gold-US Dollar exchange rate system. Till 1971, the USD was pegged to gold at $35 per ounce. Other foreign currencies were fixed to the USD. By doing so, USD became the anchor for stable currencies and facilitated international trade and investments.

Additionally, the IMF was also charged with the responsibility to provide short-term financial assistance to countries that experience temporary deficits in their balance of payments.

2. The World Bank
The second product of the Bretton Woods Conference was the IBRD. Both White and Keynes observed that many developing nations were lacking funds to develop their infrastructure.

Furthermore, the devastation caused by World War Two left these countries in dire need of post-war recovery, which incurred large expenditures. Therefore, the IBRD was set up to provide financial assistance to Europe, Japan and developing nations for reconstruction.

At the early stages, USA provided a major source of financing for post-war recovery, as evidenced by the Marshall Plan. Nevertheless, the IBRD played its part, as seen by its first issuance of loan to France.

Later, the organisation was renamed as World Bank. It expanded into multiple sub-entities, such as the International Development Association in 1960 (IDA) that lends to low-income countries and the International Finance Corporation in 1956 (IFC) that supports private investments in countries.

3. General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
The third feature was formed much later in April 1947. During the Bretton Woods Conference, proposals were made to establish an International Trade Organisation. However, USA did not ratify the treaty, thus an alternative arrangement was carried out, known as the GATT.

The GATT was introduced to encourage free trade between countries. This is done through regular meetings that facilitate periodic bargaining, in which member countries agree to reduce tariffs for various products.

In 1995, GATT was replaced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It was a milestone achievement as more countries agreed to liberalise their markets and reduce tariffs.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Bretton Woods system was the main reason for the growth of the global economy from 1945 to 1973 [to be discussed in class]?

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn how to apply your knowledge to essay questions for GCE A Level History.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What was the Sipadan-Ligitan dispute about - JC History Essay Notes

What was the Sipadan-Ligitan dispute about?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Inter-state tensions and co-operation: Causes of inter-state tensions: historical animosities & political differences

About the Islands: Sipadan and Ligitan
Pulau Sipadan and Pulau Ligitan are located in the northeast coast of Borneo. The surrounding waters of Borneo (which comprises of East Malaysia and Indonesia) are popular scuba diving destinations.

In 1891, Britain and Netherlands signed the Anglo-Dutch Convention, which separated the seas in the North Borneo region into two separate zones. Based on the Convention, Indonesia claimed the two islands.

Formation of the Malaysian Federation (1963)
On 16 September 1963, the Federation of Malaysia was formed. It included the merger with Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia inherited North Borneo from the British. As such, Pulau Sipadan and Pulau Ligitan were part of Malaysian territory.

However, inter-state tensions surfaced when Malaysia published a controversial map [the same map that gave rise to the Pedra Branca dispute] on 21 December 1979 that included Sipadan and Ligitan within its territories. In February 1980, Indonesia declared its objection to Malaysia’s map.

East Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): Refer to South-East of Sabah to find Sipadan and Ligitan [Adapted from Haller-Trost (1998)]

Violent Confrontations: Gunboat diplomacy
In 1991, Indonesia discovered the conduct of tourist activities by Malaysia in Pulau Sipadan. The latter allowed a private dive company to build chalets and a pier.

Since Indonesia’s request for Malaysia to halt the commercial development was in vain, the threat of military force was employed against Malaysia. In July, Indonesia seized a Malaysian fishing vessel near Sipadan.

Conflict De-escalation: Negotiations
Fortunately, both parties agreed to resolve the dispute amicably. In October, a Joint Commission Ministerial (JCM) meeting was held. During the formal discussion, Indonesia complied with Malaysia’s request to reduce its military presence. In the process, a Joint Working Group was set up to facilitate the management of this territorial dispute as well as other bilateral issues.

Resolution: The International Court of Justice
The dispute was eventually resolved when Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to submit their case to the Court in 1997. On 17 December 2002, the Court concluded that “sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan belonged to Malaysia”. Its basis was that Malaysia administered these islands over a considerable period of time and that Indonesia did not protest against these activities then. Both parties then respected the Court’s judgment.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that historical animosities were the main reason for the inter-state tensions between Indonesia and Malaysia after independence [to be discussed in class]?

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn how to consolidate your content effectively. Then, we conduct skills-oriented classes to show you how to apply the information in a structured and clear way. For instance, you will learn how to assess the reliability of sources based on the given factual information that you have seen in the sources as well as from your own knowledge.

Also, we have other JC tuition programmes, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How effective was ASEAN in maintaining regional security - JC History Essay Notes

How effective was ASEAN in maintaining regional security?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security)

Find out how ASEAN responded to the East Timorese Crisis that affected its intra-ASEAN relations, particularly Indonesia.

The Bali Summit: ASEAN Concord and TAC
Following the Bali Summit in February 1976, member states of ASEAN cooperated and produced two key documents: The ASEAN Concord and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC). These agreements were formed in the wake of USA’s withdrawal from Indochina following the end of Vietnam War in April 1975. ASEAN members expressed their concerns over regional security due to the incoming tide of communist expansion in the region.

The ASEAN Concord was created to promote regional economic cooperation for the primary aim of regional security. For instance, the Preferential Trading Arrangements (PTA) was introduced to encourage intra-ASEAN cooperation so as to meet the economic demands of their respective countries. In subsequent years, economic ministers of the member states held annual meetings to oversee this aspect of development.

The TAC was introduced to promote the principle of non-interference and non-use of force so as to address inter-state tensions and maintain regional security. It is imperative to note that this form of political cooperation applied not only to ASEAN member states, but also for non-ASEAN countries.

A Test of Time: Indonesia’s Invasion of East Timor [December 1975]
Following the decision of the Portugal to relinquish its control of ‘Portuguese Timor’ (before it was known as East Timor) in 1974, local elections were held. Two major political parties, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) and the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) unified to form a coalition. Yet, internal fighting broke out and the UDT carried out a coup. The Fretilin then declared East Timor independence on 28 November 1975.

The Indonesian government perceived the rise of the left-wing Fretilin as a threat to its doorstep. The Suharto administration feared the creation of a communist East Timor could destabilise Indonesia.

As such, the government launched Operasi Seroja (Operation Lotus) on 7 December 1975. It was a full-scale military invasion that toppled the Fretilin-led government. In July 1976, Indonesia declared East Timor as its twenty-seventh province, signalling a successful and forceful annexation.

Although the United Nations condemned the act, other countries such as Australia recognised the annexation. Furthermore, ASEAN members regarded the political developments as a domestic issue, thus explaining their inaction. A more critical interpretation is that the ASEAN Way hamstrung the member states from criticising and antagonising Indonesia, given the strict adherence to the principle of non-interference.

A Role Model: ASEAN’s Response to the Vietnamese Invasion of Cambodia [December 1978]
In contrast to the East Timorese crisis, ASEAN demonstrated the effectiveness of its regional unity to the world by taking the lead in condemning the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia.

In 1988, ASEAN facilitated the Jakarta Informal Meetings (1988-1990). It involved the disputing parties such as the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) and the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Notably, these closed-door meetings provided effective as a platform for conflict resolution.

ASEAN’s efforts had paid off after the great powers followed up with the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement on 23 October 1991 that marked the official end of the war.

However, it is also important to consider the improvements in the political climate by the mid-1980s that explained the successes of ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts. In particular, the willingness of Soviet Union and China to engage in political discussions to pressure Vietnam’s withdrawal was a vital factor.

Also, ASEAN’s decision to take the side of the USA and China in condemning Vietnam’s aggression conflicted with the principles of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), since ASEAN initially rejected interference by external powers.

Concluding Remarks: Was ASEAN effective?
In view of these two case studies, we can conclude that ASEAN was faced with challenging circumstances to address various threats to regional security – ideological subversion and political interference. Therefore, some political leaders, historians and political observers have reconciled with these perceived contradictions to argue that certain conflicting actions were deemed necessary to achieve regional consensus.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political effectiveness of ASEAN in response to the Third Indochina War [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have examined the case studies to analyse the applications of ASEAN’s political cooperation, it is important to attempt source-based case study questions for knowledge application. Join our JC History Tuition and learn to form logical arguments. We conduct essay writing and source based case study skills workshops to guide you through the writing process. More importantly, we teach you how to organise your points to complete these questions within the given time frame.

Additionally, you can join other JC tuition classes, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the organisations formed before ASEAN - JC History Essay Notes

What were the organisations formed before ASEAN?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Reasons for the formation of ASEAN

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Learn more about the purpose of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO), which was largely driven by American motivations to counter the spread of Communism in Asia.

The Prelude to ASEAN
In this article, we will examine the creation of three specific regional organisations before the creation of ASEAN: SEATO, ASA and Maphilindo.

1a. Southeast Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) (Sept 1954)
In September 1954, the SEATO was created as an anti-communist organisation to prevent further ideological expansion within the Southeast Asian region.

USA was the main advocate of the SEATO due to its belief that Southeast Asian was a critical pivot point for their ideological struggle against communism.

The US-led SEATO comprised of France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand.

Ironically (or not), only two Southeast Asian countries joined the SEATO. The Philippines shared close political ties with USA, thus the government was supportive of this development. Furthermore, there were communist elements (e.g. Hukbalahap) within the Philippines that could cause political instability. As for Thailand, its government joined SEATO due to the perceived Chinese communist expansion in South China.

In contrast, other Southeast Asian nations had diverging perceptions over the threat of Communism, thus explaining their reluctance to admit the SEATO. For instance, both Indonesia and Burma maintained their neutral position (recall: there were countries that were part of the “non-aligned movement“).

1b. Failures of SEATO: Absence of Commitment
Although the SEATO headquarters was established in Bangkok, Thailand, it did not possess a standing military force unlike the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). At best, joint military exercises were conducted annually.

Additionally, the SEATO defense treaty was limited to consultation due to the push for decolonisation [emphasis on self-determination]. This means that member states had to manage internal security threats on their own.

During the Vietnam War, Pakistan and France disagreed with American military involvement. In 1973, Pakistan exited from SEATO due to the organisation’s inaction during the Indo-Pakistani War (1971). More importantly, after the Americans withdrew from Indochina following the end of the Vietnam War, SEATO was no longer functional. It was disbanded on 30 June 1977.

2a. Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) (July 1961)
In January 1959, Tunku Abdul Rahman visited the Philippines. He proposed to the Philippine President Carlos P. Garcia to form the ASA. The Tunku wrote to other regional government leaders in Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, seeking their feedback on this organisation.

By January 1960, only Thailand and the Philippines agreed to form the ASA. On 31 July 1961, the ASA was officially formed in Bangkok, Thailand. The main function of ASA was to promote regional cooperation.

2b. Breakdown of the ASA
However, the ASA broke down in 1963 due to conflicting views by member states as well as Indonesia. When the Tunku put forward the idea of creating the Federation of Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia strongly objected to the notion.

For Philippines, the contentious issue lie with the possibility that Sabah joined the Federation. This gave rise to the territorial dispute between Malaysia and Philippines, known as the Sabah dispute.

For Indonesia, it was largely due to Sukarno’s fear of “Neo-Imperialism”. His anti-West political views explained his hostile Confrontation (Konfrontasi) policy which lasted from 1963 to 1966.

3a. Maphilindo (July 1963)
Philippine leader, Dr. Jose Rizal, envisioned a Greater Malayan Confederation that united the Malay peoples after the end of colonial rule. On 31 July 1963, the Philippines proposed a tripartite arrangement that involved Malaya, Philippines and Indonesia (i.e. Ma-Phil-Indo).

President Macapagal led the summit in which the three nations signed agreements to affirm their commitment to resolve disputes and conflicts pertaining to the former British-led Borneo Territories.

3b. Collapse of the Maphilindo
Although the regional arrangement was perceived as a genuine desire for diplomacy, the underlying motivation that the Philippines and Indonesia had was to prevent the Tunku from establishing the Federation of Malaysia.

Eventually, the Maphilindo broke down when Sukarno launched the Confrontation to protest against the Federation.

Concluding Remarks
In view of these setbacks, ASEAN was created to overcome such differences. Member nations were encouraged to raise their concerns openly so that other members can respect their differences and find a common solution. Also, a regional organisation that comprised of member states in the region was a more reliable entity that SEATO, given the proximity of countries to potential challenges.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that political differences were the main reason for the breakdown of ASA? [to be discussed in class]

Join our JC History Tuition and find out how we conduct topical enrichment classes to broaden your knowledge of ASEAN and other A Level History topics. We provide summary notes, timelines and additional practices as well.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the UN Responsibility to Protect - JC History Essay Notes

What is the UN Responsibility to Protect?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Examine the origins of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to understand how this UN reform was introduced in the post-Cold War era [Video by Thomson Reuters Foundation].

The Problem with Sovereignty of Nation-States
A sovereign nation has the political rights to dictate the policies that affect its citizens within its national boundaries. This includes the introduction of new laws as well as modification of existing ones.

Following the disastrous events of the Rwandan Genocide (1994) and Bosnian War (1992-1995), United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) published the Millennium Report to highlight the inaction of the international organisation. Annan asserted that sovereignty of nation-states should not take precedence over the ‘gross and systematic violation of human rights’.

“…if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?”

We the Peoples, by United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

As such, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ushered an ‘decade of humanitarian intervention’ in the post-Cold War period. Peacekeepers expanded their role to peacebuilding, as such by its involvement in the political transition of Cambodia and East Timor.

To recap, let’s take a look at the UN Charter that outlined the importance of sovereignty:

Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.

Article 2(7) of the UN Charter

The crux of the issue lies with the unwillingness of member states to allow UN intervention as external involvement is being perceived as threats to their sovereign rights. Thus, the international organisation is severely constrained by this Charter limitation.

The creation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
In September 2000, the Canadian government set up the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) after the bombing campaign carried out by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War (1999).

In December 2001, the ICISS published “The Responsibility to Protect” report to assess the “right of humanitarian intervention” in view of past events such as the legality and morality of military actions.

A. State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself.

B. Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.

The Responsibility to Protect: Core Principles, ICISS Report, December 2001

In short, the state must bear the responsibility to look after the interests of its people as part of its sovereign rights. Should it fails to do so, the international community can override the decisions of the state to look after the interests of the affected people.

On 2 December 2004, the UNSG Kofi Annan addressed the General Assembly, highlighting the involvement of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change to “assess current threats to international peace and security” and “make recommendations” for collective security in the 21st Century.

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

2005 World Summit Outcome, 24 October 2005

Application of the R2P: NATO’s intervention in Libya (2011)
The R2P was invoked due to the state sanctioned attacks on the Libyan civilians during the “17 February Revolution”. The Libyan government was led by a despotic ruler, commonly known as “Colonel Gaddafi”.

The UNSC adopted Resolution 1970 on 26 February 2011 to condemn Gaddafi’s use of lethal force against protesters in Libya. Sanctions were imposed on the Gaddafi family, such as the freezing of assets.

On 19 March 2011, NATO led a coalition force against the Libyan dictator. The NATO campaign lasted for 7 months, which led to the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

However, NATO’s controversial involvement in Libya went beyond the protection of the citizens as it led to a regime change. As such, critics argued that Western military intervention was largely driven by the desire for resource acquisition, given that Libya was one of the world’s largest oil producers.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following questions to understand the topic:
– Examine the effectiveness of the Responsibility to Protect as a UN reform in keeping the organisation relevant in the 21st Century [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to analyse the significance of the United Nations in the post-Cold War period. Also, learn more about other JC tuition classes, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 for more information.