Opinion


As the twenty-first century draws nearer, we are witnessing an era where foreign policy and international relations are increasingly values-driven. The United States and other major countries from the vanguard of what amounts to a universal crusade to spread doctrines and practice of their version of good governance and democracy, in tandem with wider acceptance of liberal market economic policy as the pathway to modernization. But a profound paradox emerges here. As the world grows more democratic, so the United Nations becomes less democratic--or at least mired in ways of governance reflecting its formative period, which fails to mirror today's world and relative global influence. Realists argue there is no correlation between a more democratic world and a more democratic multilateral system, that no intrinsic linkages exist. That is an argument which rests upon the distribution of power and those that want to maintain their built-in advantage. The signs are that the fundamental logic of such an argument will be put to the test sooner, rather than later, in the century ahead.

Critical reflection drives us to the conclusion that despite urgency and obvious need, the United Nations is probably not going to be reformed in a meaningful way. Differences among Member States stemming from power-political rivalries and "ideological" antagonisms have been fundamental obstacles to United Nations reform. These differences continue today. Even as the debate between East and West lapsed into obsolescence, the debate between North and South continues, with emphasis on conflicting claims on fundamental values and perspectives. The United Nations remains a stake and a prize in the escalating debate. Every proposal for change in the Organization is assessed in light of advantages bestowed upon one or the other side, and every recommendation for reform offered by one is predictably resisted by the other. Such a situation has tended to cause political gridlock everywhere.

The developing countries of the South regard the United Nations as a place of last recourse, not having Group of Seven or Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and having to bend to the conditionalities imposed by the Bretton Woods institutions. These countries believe in the centrality of the United Nations being a universal house, where they plead their case every September at the General Assembly They have not accepted the so-called "division of labour" between the United Nations and other multilateral bodies, like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), where the World Bank is accorded primacy in finance and development, the IMF in structural adjustment and the WTO in trade and investment regimes. The United Nations is only allowed to articulate the normative description of"soft issues", such as sustainable development, population and refugees, human rights and humanitarian issues. The frailty of such a role for the United Nations is most recently evident in the outcome of the General Assembly special session three days ago, which reviewed implementation of Agenda 21 and the commitments of the Earth Summit. The outcome reflected the inability of the United Nations to grapple with failure of Governments to meet commitments and its weakness in being able to catalyse the means and resources to operationalize sustainable development. The United Nations has precious little to translate words into real action.

Enthusiasm for reform is also unevenly distributed within the United Nations itself For many of those Secretariat officials who have been busy "reforming" for the last 15 years, the possibility of genuine change is greeted with cynicism. For others in the bureaucracy, the prospect of change is threatening, and the tendency to delay or derail reform via resistance from the inside is quite real.

The one huge task accorded to the United Nations is the maintenance of international peace and security. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Opinion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.