The United Nations at Work

The United Nations at Work

The United Nations at Work

The United Nations at Work

Synopsis

The debate over the nature and future of the United Nations began before its inception in 1945, and is likely to continue far into its second half-century. The purpose of this collection is to examine something generally ignored in the debate, even in the professional literature: what the United Nations actually does. The volume consists of original, authoritative, critical analyses of a sampling of key UN activities.

Excerpt

As a youngster in New Jersey in 1945, near the end of a dreadful war that had changed the life of everyone it had not taken, I was captivated by the dream and then the birth of the United Nations Organization. During its first few years I shared the prevailing notion that collective security through the un would replace the old balance-of-power system and lead to permanent peace. That notion, realistic or not, was battered by events virtually from its inception and died, as I see it, in October 1950, in Korea. Yet I was not disillusioned, and I retained both my interest and my faith in the organization as our best hope for avoiding another world war and helping to resolve some of our most difficult and dangerous problems.

As I learned more about the organization--as student and professor, through the public prints and first-hand experience both on the margins and inside the organization--I became more realistic about its operation, though no less optimistic about its potential. This book, then, is a product of a long-standing commitment to the un ideal, tempered by an understanding of the long and treacherous road to the realization of the ideal. It is a continuation and expansion of the work I did in preparing, at the invitation of the editors, a special double issue of the journal Political Geography (Vol. 15, No. 3/4, March-April 1996) in connection with the UN's jubilee. in this journal appeared preliminary versions of the chapters by Caflisch, Chopra, Momtaz, Prescott, Rosenne and Wood that are found in the present volume.

Each chapter was invited and written specifically for this book. in selecting people from whom to invite contributions, I followed two guidelines. First, each author had to be a senior person with either a solid reputation in his field or considerable un experience or, ideally, both. Sec-

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