The familiar New York skyline has recently been altered by the first of the United Nations buildings, a skyscraper of glass and marble rising on the banks of the East River. Its very style reflects a break with tradition; it is perhaps a glimpse of things to be expected in the city of the future. Just as New Yorkers awoke one day to this architectural innovation in their midst, so Americans across the land have awakened to United States participation in the organization being housed in this building, and the alterations this has brought to our traditional relations with the world outside.
War in Korea contributed to this. Many who had expected the world organization to bring peace in our time, if not for all time, who had thought of the Charter as a sweeping transformation in the ways of international life, showed disappointment, and even cynicism. These moods, while understandable, reflected some misconception of the practices at the United Nations and their relationship to world affairs. Such misconception is also readily understandable, for the United Nations is not a simple organism, and frequently the zeal of some to spread the gospel of the United Nations has not been matched by an eagerness to spread knowledge of how it functions, and knowledge of its strength and its limitations.
Recognizing the importance of "knowledge and understanding" in achieving "popular support" for the United Nations, its members agreed in November, 1947, "to take measures at the earliest possible date to encourage the teaching of the United Nations Charter and the purposes and principles, the structure, background, and activities of the United Nations." The members might well have added that to the extent people influence their governments, greater public understanding can go beyond achieving support for the United Nations; it can ensure that governments sponsor and advocate sound United Nations policies.
In this vein, the Department of State observed recently that "Americans should be as well informed as possible about the structure and functions of these international organizations," for despite obstacles they "are making notable contributions to the well-being of every American. They are helpful to all of us in our quest for freedom and security."
This volume, based upon the author's experiences in the United States Government with international organizations and as a member of the UNRRA staff, as well as from assignments with the United Nations, is . . .