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The Paris-based OECD is an integral element in the system of Western international institutions developed after World War II. It began as the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, created in 1948 to rebuild the economies of Europe with the help of the U.S. Marshall Plan. By 1961, when it became the OECD, the organization's reach had extended beyond Europe, and its mandate had expanded to include coordinating assistance to developing countries.
Over the intervening years, with the accession of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and most recently, Mexico, the OECD has evolved into a global forum where the industrial democracies meet to develop policies on an expanding range of economic, scientific, and social issues. Its commitment to the development of strong market economies and democratic political systems has made it an important complement to the security ties established among many of its …