Touching Our Daily Lives

By Thakur, Ramesh | UN Chronicle, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

Touching Our Daily Lives

Thakur, Ramesh, UN Chronicle


International organizations touch our daily lives in myriad ways. They are an important means of arranging the functioning of the state-based international system more satisfactorily than had proven to be the case in conditions of international anarchy. The United Nations lies at their legislative and normative centre. If it did not exist, we would surely have to invent it. Considering the illfated history of the League of Nations, the United Nations founders would have felt pride and satisfaction that their creation is still intact at the dawn of the new millennium, embracing virtually the entire international community. Yet, their vision of a world community equal in rights and united in action is still to be realized.

For romantics, the United Nations can do no wrong and is the solution to all the world's problems. Its failures are seen as being really the failures of Member States. If only they had the necessary political will, the Organization would fulfil its destiny as the global commons, the custodian of the international interest and the conscience of all humanity.

Cynics question the respect paid to the United Nations by the credulous. For them, it exists so that nations, unable to do anything individually, can get together to decide that nothing can be done collectively. The price of inaction on a grand scale is paid by the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda and others.

In the midst of the swirling tides of change, the United Nations must strive for a balance between the desirable and the possible. The UN Charter was a triumph of hope and idealism over the experience of two world wars. The flame flickered in the chili winds of the cold war. But it has not yet died out. The Organization's greatest strength is that it is the only universal forum for cooperation and management. The global public goods of peace, prosperity, sustainable development and good governance cannot be achieved by any country acting on its own. The United Nations is still the symbol of our hopes and dreams for a better world where weakness can be compensated for by justice and fairness, and the law of the jungle replaced by the rule of law.

The United Nations presided over decolonization--one of the great achievements of this century. The 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights is both the embodiment and proclamation of the human rights norm. The 1966 Covenants added force and specificity, affirming both civil/political and social/economic/cultural rights without privileging either. Together, they mapped out the international human rights agenda, established the benchmark for State conduct, inspired provisions in many national laws and international conventions, and provided a beacon of hope to many whose rights had been snuffed out by brutal regimes.

Like the League of Nations in the interwar period, the United Nations embodied the idea that aggressive war is a crime against humanity, with every State having the interest, right and duty to collaborate in preventing it. The innovation of peacekeeping notwithstanding, the United Nations has not lived up to expectations in securing a disarmed and peaceful world. But it has helped States to behave less conflictually, form habits of cooperation, and develop shared norms and perceptions. While the United Nations cannot honestly be said to have kept the world at peace, the Security Council has played a peace-influencing role, and the General Assembly has undertaken a peace-shaping role.

As with sustainable development, which seeks to strike a balance between growth and conservation, the United Nations must be at the centre of efforts to achieve sustainable disarmament: the reduction of armaments to the lowest level where the security needs of any one country at a given time, or any one generation over time, are met without compromising the security and welfare needs of other countries or future generations. …

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

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
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Touching Our Daily Lives


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

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.