The United Nations and Changing World Politics

The United Nations and Changing World Politics

The United Nations and Changing World Politics

The United Nations and Changing World Politics

Excerpt

The most casual observer of the international scene can see that the
problem of world order has not been solved
.

—Inis L. Claude Jr., Swords into Plowshares

THE TWENTIETH CENTURY WAS an era of bold transition. When the century began, global multilateral relations and international organizations were in their infancy. Experiments with international unions, conference diplomacy, and the expansion of multilateral relations beyond Europe remained fledgling. As the decades unfolded, so did universal multilateralism, albeit on the European state-system model. First, the League of Nations was created to meet the challenges posed by the increasing lethality of warfare and the associated evolving norm of the illegality of aggressive war. Although this first great experiment failed, it laid the foundation for its successor, the United Nations. When the second great European war of the century became a global conflict, national governmental leaders once again began to search for a way to prevent global conflicts. Under the leadership of officials from the United States and Great Britain, the Declaration on United Nations was signed on January 1, 1942. It began with twenty-six countries allied to fight fascism but was based on international cooperation that would lead to the second great experiment in universal international organization when the formal UN Charter was signed in 1945. This time, however, the collective security agreement was seen as part of a more comprehensive global arrangement in which the guarantees of collective security were linked to a series of international institutions aimed at promoting and fostering the social and economic conditions necessary for peace to prevail.

The UN system was born plural and decentralized and was never intended to approximate a centralized unitary system that would have resembled a government. It also was born from pragmatism. A great war against fascism and irrationalism . . .

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