October 16 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of George Marshall. In 2010 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will begin celebrations to mark its own 50th anniversary. These two events are related, because the OECD remains one of George Marshall’s great legacies.
The forerunner of the OECD was the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), formed in 1947 to administer American and Canadian aid under the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Its headquarters were established in Paris, France, in 1949.
The OECD took over from the OEEC as a more global institution in 1961. Since then, the organisation’s mission has been to help its member countries to achieve sustainable economic growth, employment and financial stability, to raise living standards, and to foster world development. Its member countries work together on a multilateral basis. Their goal is to help build a stronger, cleaner and fairer world economy.
The OECD is evolving fast in a rapidly-changing globalised economy. It is taking on new members, strengthening its relations with emerging economic powers, and deepening its work with developing countries. The organisation is becoming more effective at a time when international cooperation is again badly needed.
For OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, George Marshall’s vision still inspires the organisation’s work today: "The rebuilding of Europe was one of history’s great successes, but many people in the world still live in poverty and we still face major global challenges on several fronts, such as the fallout from the economic crisis, as well as threats to our survival from the likes of climate change and water depletion. We know from half a century of experience that international economic cooperation and development are essential for surmounting the problems we face. Our determination to succeed in leading this effort is our tribute to one of the great visionaries of the 20th century. The OECD is proof in action that the spirit of George Marshall lives on.”