What's Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix it

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Wiley, Oct 21, 2008 - Political Science - 292 pages
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Six decades after its establishment, the United Nations and its system of related agencies and programs is perpetually in crisis. While World War I and World War II gave rise to ground-breaking efforts at international organization in 1919 and 1945, the UN today seems ill-equipped to deal with modern challenges to world order. Neither the end of the Cold War nor the aftermath of 9/11 has led to the creation of a “next generation” of multilateral institutions.

But what exactly is wrong with the UN, and how can we fix it? Is it possible to retrofit the world body? In this succinct and illuminating analysis, Thomas G. Weiss takes a diagnosis and cure approach to the world organization’s inherent difficulties. In the first half of the book, he considers: the problems of international leadership and decision making in a world of self-interested states; the diplomatic difficulties caused by the artificial divisions between the industrialized North and the global South; the structural problems of managing the UN’s many overlapping jurisdictions, agencies, and bodies; and the ever-demanding challenges of bureaucracy and leadership. The second half examines how to mitigate these maladies and points the way to a more ideal world in which the UN’s institutional ills might be “cured.” His remedies are not based on pious hopes of a miracle cure for the UN, but rather on specific and encouraging examples that could be replicated. With considered optimism and in contrast to received wisdom, Weiss contends that substantial change in intergovernmental institutions is plausible and possible.

This indispensable book will spark debate amongst students, scholars, and policy-makers concerned with international politics, as well as anyone genuinely interested in the future of the United Nations and international cooperation.

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About the author (2008)

Thomas G Weiss is Presidential Professor at The CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, where he is co-director of the United Nations Intellectual History Project. He has written or edited some 35 books and over 100 articles about multilateral approaches to international peace and security, humanitarian action, and sustainable development.

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