The General Assembly of the United Nations a Study of Procedure and Practice

The General Assembly of the United Nations a Study of Procedure and Practice

The General Assembly of the United Nations a Study of Procedure and Practice

The General Assembly of the United Nations a Study of Procedure and Practice

Excerpt

TO THE READER--I have undertaken a subject that I am very sensible requires one of more sufficiency than I am master of to treat it as, in truth, it deserves . . . but since bunglers may stumble upon the game as well as masters, though it belongs to the skilful to hunt and catch it, I hope this essay . . . may provoke abler pens to improve and perform the design with better judgment and success.

WILLIAM PENN

Whenever a new institution of social and political co-operation is born, there are those who are sceptical. I have no doubt that some medieval Englishmen complained that Parliament was the fad of a few muddle-headed idealists. It had no real power to enforce its decisions; members talked too much; it wasted the tax-payers' money; it interfered in matters which were essentially within the jurisdiction of the counties; it was hamstrung by the royal veto.

I expect there were also a few enthusiastic supporters of Parliament, who would have killed it with kindness. They had infinite faith in its ability to solve problems, and when it was by-passed they did the medieval equivalent of writing to the newspapers.

Parliament was able to survive the scorn of the doubters and the zeal of the supporters for two main reasons. First, it was a necessary institution in the sense that if it had not evolved fortuitously, it would have been necessary to invent it. Secondly, it had the capacity to change.

The United Nations is a necessary institution, and it has managed to survive in our tumultuous world because it has been able to change. Its usefulness depends to a considerable extent on its capacity to change still further.

In the introduction to his annual report in 1959, Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold insists that an organization for international co-operation on the basis of universality is essential, and he adds that the only practical question is whether an evolution of procedures should be envisaged in order to adapt the United Nations more adequately to the needs as experienced. The United Nations, he writes, is a living organism and has the necessary scope for continuous adaptation.

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