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date: 13 November 2019

World Politics: Continuity and Change Since 1945

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses world politics and international relations, with a primary focus on the United Nations Organization. It enumerates the four most relevant changes within the United Nations (UN), namely: the emergence of a single ‘hyper-power’, the emergence of threats, the reformulation of state sovereignty, and the increasing role of nonstate actors. It evaluates the efforts of the UN at problem-solving, discusses the concepts of global governance and US hegemony, and enumerates three analytical problems.

Keywords: world politics, international relations, United Nations Organization, relevant changes, hyper-power, threats, state sovereignty, nonstate actors, global governance, US hegemony

Since its establishment in 1945, the United Nations Organization, as well as the universal agencies that form part of the UN system, has been central to international relations. The main story is one of continuity and change—the UN is over sixty years old and sixty years young. It faced specific opportunities and difficulties during the Cold War; and these were followed with a radically different set of interpretations, fears, hopes, and policies in the confusion of the post‐Cold War era. That same description could again be used to characterize the briefer period since 11 September 2001.

But behind these macro‐political changes lies a startling reality that was very much in evidence at the largest‐ever global summit at UN headquarters in September 2005. Over 150 presidents, prime ministers, and princes encountered the same problems that have restricted international cooperation since the launching of the current generation of global institutions that replaced the defunct League of Nations—indeed since the beginning of modern experiments with multilateral cooperation in the nineteenth century.1

New challenges to international peace and security and human survival have arisen. New nonstate actors have appeared on the world stage, and older ones have occasionally been transformed. New conventions and norms have proliferated. New intergovernmental initiatives and institutions have been established. Yet, despite these challenges, decision‐making in world politics and international organizations remains dominated by states.

(p. 4)

Hence, nothing has altered the validity of Adam Roberts and Benedict Kingsbury's evaluation in United Nations, Divided World: ‘international society has been modified, but not totally transformed.’2 The UN does not exist in isolation from the world that it is attempting to serve. Many scholars and practitioners resist the notion that there has been a fundamental change in world politics. Essentially, they are right in claiming that the more things change the more they stay the same. Certainly the fundamental units of the system—sovereign states—are here to stay. They are still organized to pursue their perceived national interests in a world without any meaningful overall authority.

The world thus still reflects what Hedley Bull and virtually all political scientists call ‘anarchy,’3 or the absence of a central global authority. In spite of the construction of a seemingly ever‐denser web of international institutions, there is nothing like a world government in the offing. Although it would be inaccurate to ignore the extremes—ranging from fractious political authority in failed states to the supranational integration of the European Union—it still is accurate to point to a fundamental continuity: state sovereignty remains the core of international relations.

Change and Continuity

The clear recognition of this fundamental continuity pervades the chapters in The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, as it does world politics; but it would be hard to argue that substantial change has not also marked the world organization since 1945. This Handbook is thus a contribution to greater analytical precision and historical reflection about the balance between change and continuity within the United Nations. The most pertinent changes can be conveniently grouped under four headings: the emergence of new threats; the increasing role of nonstate actors; the reformulation of state sovereignty; and the emergence of a single ‘hyper‐power.’ What follows is an overview of the nature and role of each of these in today's international system.

The Rise of New Threats?

The first category of change consists in the proliferation of new threats and challenges to the well‐being of states and their citizens that surpass the ability of individual states, however powerful, to address on their own. Some readers may find it hard to imagine that many of the problems central to this Handbook were not even on the international radar screen in 1945. For instance, environmental degradation, population growth, urbanization, and women's rights came onto the (p. 5) international agenda during the global conferences of the 1970s,4 and the AIDS pandemic and the need for human development and human security appeared in the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, other challenges that have long languished on the agenda—terrorism and self‐determination come immediately to mind—have taken on a different urgency with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

In short, war, human rights abuse, and poverty have persisted throughout the last six decades. Judgments about the relative success or failure of the UN in addressing such perennial blights on the human condition can only be made with the recognition that many of these ‘old’ threats have themselves changed in nature over time, and that praise for success or criticism for failure cannot simply be placed at the door of the organization.

The threat of armed conflict was foremost in the minds of the architects of the UN Charter, the Preamble to which pledged members ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.’ This threat endures or, to paraphrase Inis Claude's classic early UN textbook, too few swords have been turned into ploughshares.5 There has been, however, a significant change in the patterns of political violence. While interstate war is not yet a thing of the past—as demonstrated by the decision of the US and UK to go to war against Iraq in 2003—the UN's original focus on war between states has largely given way to the dominant reality of intrastate warfare.

Intrastate—or ‘civil’ or ‘non‐international’—wars (i.e., taking place primarily within the borders of a state and involving indigenous armed factions) accounted for over 90 percent of all armed conflicts in the 1990s that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths.6 It is conventional wisdom that civilians have become the main victims in such civil wars—estimated at 90 percent in the turbulent 1990s, itself a notable reversal from the early twentieth century when soldiers accounted for that percentage.7 However, new evidence raises questions about such statistics. Direct killing of civilians through armed conflict may have in fact declined significantly in the early 2000s although it remains difficult to calculate the indirect effects of war‐exacerbated disease and malnutrition.8 Whether or not these wars are truly ‘new’ is debatable, but clearly many of the usual dynamics have altered or been exaggerated. ‘Changed’ is probably a more accurate characterization of the transformation at hand as history demonstrates comparable dynamics.9

The woes of our planet are obvious. Egregious human rights violations have continued over six decades, and many of the moves towards national independence have ended in brutal dictatorship. Despite economic growth, the world has been left, at the opening of the new millennium, with widening gaps in wealth distribution (the world's 500 richest individuals' combined wealth is greater than that of the poorest 416 million), and almost half the global population (some 2.5 billion) survive on incomes equivalent to less than two dollars a day. These problems too have been with us for some time, but their magnitude continues to grow as does our real‐time exposure to the plight of those who suffer.

(p. 6) The Importance of New Actors?

The second type of substantial change that is reflected in many of this Handbook's chapters is the burgeoning role of actors other than states. The proliferation of ‘uncivil’ actors—from belligerents and warlords to ‘spoilers’ and criminals whose interests are served by continued armed conflict10—is certainly a factor behind the ugly reality of civil war. However, the UN as an arena has also traditionally provided space for what is increasingly called ‘global civil society’ to interact with states, articulate demands and solutions, and pursue their own interests.

Charter Article 71 carved out space for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to engage with the United Nations. But during the Cold War, the Soviet bloc and many developing countries with totalitarian regimes resisted the intrusion of independent and dissident voices. Since the thawing of East—West relations in the mid‐1980s, however, human rights advocates, gender activists, developmentalists, and groups of indigenous peoples have become ever more vocal, operational, and important in contexts that were once thought to be the exclusive preserve of states.

The sheer growth in NGO numbers has been nothing short of remarkable. The Union of International Associations estimates the number of international NGOs (operating in more than two countries) at about 25,000.11 A more cautious estimate is 13,000, all but one‐quarter of which have been created since 1990.12 National NGOs have grown faster still in the South than in the North. Throughout the Third World, grassroots organizations are said to number in the millions.

For‐profit businesses and the media are key nongovernmental sectors that relate directly to the United Nations. Corporations have always been an important lobbying presence. In addition, their potential contribution to the UN's work—as well as their labor, social, and environmental obligations—have been recognized in Kofi Annan's Global Compact initiative. The media's influence is widely acknowledged. Indeed, Secretary‐General Boutros‐Ghali suggested that they effectively constitute a ‘16th member of the Security Council’ for some decisions.

Hence, it is no longer disputed that NGOs play a prominent role on the world stage and that we are unable to fully understand contemporary international relations without looking at such nonstate actors. What is insufficiently known is that their rate of growth has surpassed intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). By 2006, IGOs had shrunk to 238 (down from a peak of over 300 at the outset of the 1980s), which means that a quarter of a century ago, ‘the ratio of NGOs to IGOs stood at 15:1, whereas today the relation is 28:1.’13 The presence of alternative voices has become integral to the UN system's processes of deliberation14 and to world politics more generally. International discussions are more pluralistic, and international decisions necessarily reflect a wider array of perspectives.

Indeed, and as a result, the term ‘international community’ can be confusing when it is used in relationship to the UN system and multilateralism more broadly. While international lawyers continue to use it to refer narrowly to the ‘community of peace‐loving states,’ other observers frequently employ it far more loosely and expansively. Some include not merely states but also their creations in the form of (p. 7) intergovernmental bodies, while still other observers also use the term to embrace some of the nonstate actors that are contributing to the resolution of global problems. In these pages, we restrict the use of the term to the narrow legal sense, but the expanded cast playing roles on the UN's stage is a crucial part of the analysis in virtually every chapter in this volume.

Reinforced or Reduced State Sovereignty?

Reflecting the proliferation of threats and actors is the third dominant element of change—the reformulation of state sovereignty. Paradoxically, the UN has been responsible for both the triumph and the erosion of state sovereignty. There are almost four times as many member states at the outset of the twenty‐first century as signed the Charter in June 1945. The Charter emphasized self‐determination in response to colonialism, and decolonization is virtually complete. And since the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and the implosion of the former Yugoslavia the following year, the idea of the sovereign state has attained virtually universal resonance.

At the same time, however, sovereignty has never been as sacrosanct and unchangeable as many believe. Stephen Krasner went so far as to describe it as ‘organized hypocrisy.’15 The recasting of state sovereignty over the UN's lifetime is rooted in three factors.

The first is that technology and communications have remolded the nature of the global economy and economic aspirations.16 There is great controversy over the oft‐used and confused term ‘globalization.’17 Some observers argue that it has been occurring since the earliest trade expeditions (e.g., the Silk Road); and despite the current obsession, the process itself is not fundamentally new. Others suggest that the current era of globalization is unique in the rapidity of its spread and the intensity of the interactions that result. It is difficult to deny the processes of increased interconnectivity across the planet and the worldwide dimensions of human, financial, commercial, and cultural flows that require no passport. For the latter, the UN's normative efforts have been combined with technology to produce what one analyst called ‘the end of geography.’18

Wherever one stands in the debate about globalization's reach, pace, and impact on state sovereignty, it is clear that definitions of vital national interests—often called raisons d'état—are expanding and being continually redefined. Their pursuit is not exclusive because sometimes state actors are playing in a non‐zero‐sum game; the European Union is often cited as an example of sovereignty being recast if not transcended, a process long‐ago described by Ernst Haas as moving ‘beyond the nation‐state.’19 Globalization creates losers as well as winners, and it entails risks as well as opportunities. The rapid growth of global markets has not seen the parallel development of social and economic institutions to ensure their smooth and efficient functioning, and the global rules on trade and finance produce asymmetric effects on rich and poor countries, very often to the detriment of the latter. This too means that some states are more or less ‘sovereign’ than others.

(p. 8)

The second factor explaining the paradox is that the content of sovereignty itself has expanded to accommodate human rights. Underlying this is an unresolved tension in the Charter between respect for the domestic jurisdiction of states and the imperatives of individual rights. In his 1992 An Agenda for Peace, Secretary‐General Boutros Boutros‐Ghali summarized: ‘The time for absolute and exclusive sovereignty, however, has passed; its theory was never matched by reality.’20 Of course, for some time states have chosen to shed bits of sovereignty in signing international conventions or trade pacts—some 1,500 multilateral treaties were in existence in 1995 when a prominent legal group made the effort to count them.21 But for human rights in particular, the trade‐off is not always a conscious choice but rather involves a blurring of domestic and international jurisdictions over time. This became particularly clear with the willingness to override sovereignty by using military force for humanitarian purposes in the 1990s. The rationale came from Frances M. Deng and Roberta Cohen's notion of ‘sovereignty as responsibility,’ which they developed to protect internally displaced persons; from Secretary‐General Annan's articulation of ‘two sovereignties’; and from the norm of the ‘responsibility to protect’, elaborated and advocated by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS).22

As a result, the four characteristics of a sovereign—territory, authority, population, and independence—spelled out in the 1934 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States have been complemented by another, a modicum of respect for human rights. Sovereignty has become contractual or conditional rather than absolute. Indeed, with the possible exception of the prevention of genocide in the first years after World War II, no idea has moved faster in the international normative arena than ‘the responsibility to protect.’ The basic idea is that human beings should count more than the rigid sovereignty enshrined in Charter Article 2 (7) with its emphasis on nonintervention in the internal affairs of states. Or, as Kofi Annan graphically told a 1998 audience at Ditchley Park, ‘state frontiers … should no longer be seen as a watertight protection for war criminals or mass murderers.’23

The third part of an explanation for the paradox of the UN's contribution to both strengthening and weakening sovereignty is that experience, beginning in the 1990s, suggests that states can be born and die—sovereign entities can, in the popular language of the day, ‘fail.’24 A number of other euphemisms have arisen—for instance, ‘weak’ and ‘fragile’—while the ‘on‐the‐ground’ reality varies from the situation in Somalia,25 where there has been no effective central authority since 1992, to the former Yugoslavia, which no longer exists as a unitary state. Charter Article 2 (1) is clear: ‘The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.’ This essentially means that all states have equal sovereignty, but not that they are equal in nature. Fictions abound in world politics, including the pretence within the UN of treating member states that are not de facto sovereign as equal to functioning members, and treating China and Chad or Venezuela and Vanuatu on a par in the General Assembly despite their vast inequalities in size and power.

(p. 9)

In short, the notion of state sovereignty seems considerably less sacrosanct today than in 1945. Borders still are crucial considerations in international relations, but their significance is very different than at the outset of the United Nations.

US Hegemony?

The fourth remarkable disjuncture is the pre‐eminence of the United States—what former French foreign minister Hubert Védrine dubbed the hyper‐puissance. On the one hand, major power politics have always dominated the deliberations of the world organization. The bitter East—West divide of the Cold War and the North—South clashes of the 1960s and the 1970s provide extensive evidence of this reality. On the other hand, there is no modern precedent for America's current military, economic, and cultural preponderance. Much of contemporary UN debate could be compared with the Roman Senate's effort to control the emperor.

Scholars speculate about the nuances of economic and cultural leverage in the international system resulting from US soft power,26 but the hard currency of international politics undoubtedly remains military might. Before the war on Iraq, the ‘hyper‐power’ was already spending more on its military than the 15–25 next highest‐spending countries combined (depending on who was counting). With additional appropriations for Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington began spending more than the rest of the world's militaries combined. And even in the domain of soft power, the US remains without challenge on the world stage for the foreseeable future although some analysts see the hegemony as more Western than American.27

Yet at this moment, there are two world ‘organizations.’ The United Nations is global in membership, and the United States is global in reach and power. While many observers emphasize the peculiarly ‘go‐it‐alone’ character of the George W. Bush administration, American unilateralism is not new.28 This reality creates acute difficulties for card‐carrying multilateralists. For example, UN‐led or UN‐approved operations with substantial military requirements take place only when Washington approves or at least acquiesces. In other issue areas, moving ahead without the United States is problematic, although experiments are underway—for example, the 1998 Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court and the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‐Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

Whether the US presence and power are overrated and will wane in the coming decade remains to be seen. Even if, as Joseph Nye claims, ‘the world's only superpower can't go it alone,’29 US power and Washington's willingness to resort to unilateralism may well dominate, for some years, every level of UN affairs—normative, legal, and operational.30

(p. 10) Global Governance

The confluence among these four types of change along with the dominant continuity of an anarchical international system is such that very few contemporary UN watchers can imagine anything like a world government emerging in their lifetimes. We should nonetheless recall that such a notion was at least at the back of the minds of not only world federalists but many of the framers of the UN Charter. While pointing to the rise of ‘networks of interdependence,’ an earlier formulation of global governance, the late Harold Jacobson noted a fitting image for the older view of world government in the tapestries in the Palais des Nations in Geneva—the headquarters of the League of Nations and now the UN's European Office. He noted that they ‘picture the process of humanity combining into ever larger and more stable units for the purpose of governance—first the family, then the tribe, then the city‐state, and then the nation—a process which presumably would eventually culminate in the entire world being combined in one political unit.’31

That dream—Alexander Wendt still argues that ‘a world state is inevitable’32—of a world government has been replaced by the contemporary idea of global governance.33 Even the most enthusiastic proponents of national interests or those least sympathetic toward the United Nations are cognizant of the need for multilateral efforts in some sectors to address problems that spill beyond borders. ‘Governance’ refers to purposeful systems and rules or norms that ensure order beyond what occurs ‘naturally.’ In the domestic context, governance is usually more than government, implying shared purpose and goal orientation as well as formal authority or police powers.

The origins of this idea in the 1990s reflect an interesting marriage between academic and policy concerns. James Rosenau and Ernst Czempiel's theoretical Governance without Government was published in 1992, and the policy‐oriented Commission on Global Governance's Our Global Neighbourhood was published three years later.34 The first issue of the journal Global Governance, whose subscribers are both scholars and practitioners, also appeared in 1995. And the literature has burgeoned since that time.

Distinctions are not always made between the species of national and global governance. For example, UNDP's Human Development Report 1999 argued that ‘Governance does not mean mere government.’35 In a national context, this is perfectly correct because governance is government plus additional nongovernmental mechanisms that contribute to order and predictability in problem‐solving. For the planet, however, governance essentially is close to the whole story because there is no world government—hence, the sum of nongovernmental mechanisms but minus an input from a central authority because there is none. In many instances, the network of institutions and rules at the global level provides the appearance of partially effective governance, but normally without the actual desired effects.

So global governance is not a supplement to global government but rather a faute de mieux. It is a surrogate for transnational authority and enforcement in the (p. 11) contemporary world. However useful as a heuristic device to explain some kinds of complex multilateral cooperation and transnational interactions, the basic question remains: can global governance without a global government adequately address the range of problems faced by humanity in the new millennium?

Evaluating UN Efforts at Problem‐Solving

Our point of departure in this Handbook is neither defensive nor celebratory—the UN's record should be viewed and analyzed empirically but in context.36 The need to avoid repetition of two world wars and the massive global recession of the 1930s—as well as the failure of the League of Nations—sharply focused the thoughts of those who created the United Nations. In particular, they had very much in mind what the father of the international relations approach later dubbed ‘realism.’ E. H. Carr's sweeping interwar analysis of the catastrophic results of ill‐considered idealism led to a very different generation of international organizations.37 The basic structures, sketched during World War II and in the first decade or two afterwards, were all directed toward pragmatic ends.

But what made the UN's design and establishment so remarkable was its broader ambitions—for human rights on a global scale, for sovereign independence and freedom and democracy in all parts of the world, for improvements in standards of living worldwide. While such lofty idealism is often derided, more of that original vision has been achieved than is often recognized. No period in human history has seen so many people benefiting from advances in life expectancy, health, education, and living standards as in the UN's lifetime. The organization cannot claim credit for all the progress that has been made, any more than it can be blamed for the lack thereof.

At the same time, the UN's contribution is far from negligible. The globe undoubtedly would have been in a sadder state of affairs without the world organization's efforts. Successes have arguably surpassed the initial hopes and expectations of the delegates who first gathered at the San Francisco Conference on International Organization in April 1945, and of those attending the opening session of the first General Assembly in London in January 1946. For instance, there has been no world war. Although military spending has broken all records and tens of thousands of nuclear weapons still threaten the survival of the human race, deaths from war since 1945 have been markedly fewer than those in the first half of the twentieth century. In spite of the Cold War, indeed because it was mostly cold rather than hot, barely a fifth of the twentieth century's 110 million war‐related deaths took place in the fifty‐five years after the UN's creation, compared with some 85 million prior.

(p. 12)

The Human Security Report 2005 suggests that the surge of international activities after the end of the Cold War, aimed at stopping ongoing wars and preventing new ones, actually achieved considerable success. Spearheaded by the United Nations, these activities included a sixfold increase in the world body's preventive diplomacy missions and a fourfold increase in its peacemaking missions. This upsurge in international activism coincided with a decrease in crises and wars, despite the real and much publicized failures. While the UN did not act alone, the report asserts that there is evidence from a number of sources that the UN's initiatives were directly linked to quantifiable progress in the reduction and resolution of conflicts. This is, at the very least, a plausible proposition.

The end of colonization and the achievement of sovereign independence came within a decade or two, whereas in 1945 many observers expected that the decolonization process might well take a century. Today 192 countries are members of the UN, compared with the initial fifty‐one. About two‐thirds of them now have governments chosen through multiparty elections, a substantial shift from the situation in the early 1960s in the immediate aftermath of decolonization and throughout the Cold War when the vast majority of governments were anything except democratically elected.

Economic and social development has been impressive in many instances. In developing countries, average life expectancy has increased to double the estimated level of the late 1930s. Child mortality has been lowered by more than three‐quarters. Nearly three‐quarters of the world's population over the age of 18 are now literate, and some 85 percent of the world's children benefit from education. Malnutrition has been reduced in all regions of the world except Africa. Smallpox has been eradicated; and yaws, guinea worm, and polio—a worldwide scourge in the early postwar world—virtually eliminated. UNDP's 2005 edition of its annual Human Development Report noted that, since the first such report was issued in 1990, ‘On average, people in developing countries are healthier, better educated and less impoverished—and they are more likely to live in a multiparty democracy.’38

Progress in human rights has also been nothing short of extraordinary, starting with the 1948 approval of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Beginning in the 1980s, a surge of ratifications of human rights conventions occurred along with increasing implementation of many measures and greater public outrage over abuses. While ratification and implementation are not always correlated as closely as we would like, it nonetheless is significant that almost a hundred countries, over half of UN member states, have now ratified six of the seven major human rights instruments, each of which has a committee of experts to monitor implementation; and some of which are supplemented by optional protocols. Moreover, about three‐quarters of member states have ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and over 80 percent of countries the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a kind of international bill of rights for women.

(p. 13) Three Analytical Problems

The preceding rapid summary is fleshed out in far greater detail in the chapters of this Handbook. In weighing elements of continuity and change and evaluating the UN's efforts to solve problems in spite of the obvious constraints on its operations, our authors adopt a variety of perspectives. In examining the evidence in each chapter, we urge readers to keep in mind three distinct analytical problems: defining the nature of change; determining the nature of success and failure; and tracking the ups and downs of world politics.

Defining ‘Change’

The first analytical concern regards defining what constitutes ‘change.’ Kalevi Holsti's Taming the Sovereigns probes the concept of change and ways of measuring it: ‘These include change as novelty or replacement, change as addition or subtraction, increased complexity, transformation, reversion, and obsolescence.’39

Change thus can be analyzed in quantitative or qualitative ways. If we think simply in terms of the growing scale and scope of international secretariats and staff or their budgets, there would be no debate. If change can be additive or subtractive and thus measured quantitatively, on any conceivable measure, the UN system has expanded exponentially.

We have already noted some of the data, such as the near quadrupling of the world body's membership. When the United Nations was born in 1945, there were fifty‐one members, comprised mostly of European and Latin American countries. By 1975, the number of states sitting in the General Assembly had nearly tripled, as decolonization proceeded rapidly in the wake of the mass destruction wrought by World War II, in conjunction with the tide of nationalist independence movements that rippled across what became known as the Third World. Less than two decades later, the implosion of the Soviet Union (or formally the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR) and Yugoslavia gave birth to twenty new states. As of early 2007, the world body is comprised of 192 members. The number of democracies has quintupled.40

Other figures help illustrate quantitative change, such as the number of peacekeeping operations, also briefly discussed above. From the launch of the first peacekeeping operation in 1948 until 1978, only thirteen missions were deployed. For almost a decade thereafter, the Security Council approved no new operations with UN blue helmets. The political realities of the East—West split rendered launching such operations politically impossible. New operations resumed in 1988, when the Soviet Union dramatically altered its foreign policy position toward the world body. Since the thawing of the Cold War, the UN has undertaken forty‐seven peacekeeping operations. In late 2006, for instance, the world body had boots on the ground in more than fifteen countries and some 100,000 troops deployed, (p. 14) collectively a larger overseas military presence than any country except the United States. In August, when it authorized hybrid operations in Lebanon and the Darfur region of Sudan, the Security Council approved, in principle, a 50 percent increase in the number of UN soldiers and total peacekeeping expenditures.

Change in the intensity of UN activity can also be illustrated with figures pertaining to the number of resolutions passed in the Security Council. During the Cold War, from 1946 to 1986, the Council passed 593 resolutions; in less than half the length of time, between 1987 and 2005, this figure amounted to 1,010.41

Another indication of change in multilateral cooperation more broadly can be illustrated with the number of treaties regulating state conduct. Between 1946 and 1975, the number of international treaties in force more than doubled from 6,351 to 14,061.42 They span a broad gamut of issues—genocide, human rights, terrorism, the environment, and narcotics.43

Along with the greater extensiveness of its reach and membership, the UN's budget has grown to meet the ever increasing demands of a more interdependent and complex world. In 1946, the regular budget was $21.5 million;44 some three decades later, the resources at the disposal of the world body amounted to $307 million,45 while in 2006 the regular budget reached $1.8 billion. This regular budget, which is debated endlessly because of its significance for the control and direction of the United Nations, represents only 20 percent of total spending. In 2005, the peacekeeping budget alone amounted to another $5 billion, and extra‐budgetary contributions another $2.8 billion.

In addition to financial wherewithal, the human resources on which the daily operations of the UN depend also have increased substantially. In 1945, the UN Secretariat itself was a small family while the entire system had some 1,500 people. Early in the millennium, the UN with its global reach relies on some 15,000 employees (7,500 are paid from the regular budget) from approximately 170 countries. The UN system as a whole—including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund—employs some 61,000 staff.

These quantitative indicators of growth, however, should be placed in context. Measured in comparison with the challenges to be overcome or in relationship to national expenditures, the UN's statistics could be considered almost trivial. Over the sixty‐year period, the regular budget appears to have increased eighty‐eight times; however, when the figures are adjusted for inflation, the increase corresponds approximately to sixteen times the 1946 budget. This amounts to an allocation of about $0.30 per human being alive in 2006; even with the peacekeeping budget included, this figure is only about $1.07.

Total global procurement by the UN, about 85 percent of which arises from peacekeeping, grew from about $400 million in 1997 to $1.6 billion in 2005. However, even the record‐breaking expenditure on UN peacekeeping operations worldwide in 2005 was the equivalent of only one month of US expenditures in Iraq in that same year.

Writing in the mid‐1990s, Erskine Childers and Brian Urquhart pointed out a number of relevant comparisons to challenge the commonplace impression of a ‘vast, sprawling bureaucracy.’ They wrote: ‘The entire UN system world‐wide, serving the (p. 15) interests of some 5,500,000,000 people in 184 countries [now 6.5 billion in 192 countries], employs no more workers than the civil service in the American state of Wyoming, population 545,000 … and less than the combined civil services of the Canadian Province of Manitoba and its capital city of Winnipeg.’ They further noted that the budgets for the whole system's regular activities ($6.5 billion) amounted to about the same that US citizens spent annually on cut flowers and potted plants, while the total worldwide expenditure of the UN system—$10.5 billion—was three‐and‐a‐half times less than the amount that UK citizens spend on alcoholic beverages per year. Moreover, the total budgetary portion allocated to the UN proper (some $4.1 billion) was no more than the budgets of the New York City fire and police departments together. In another quantitative comparison, Childers and Urquhart noted that the UN's ‘giant paper factory’ producing documents in six languages is also a myth in that ‘the New York Times consumes more paper in one single Sunday edition than the United Nations consumes in all its documents in a whole year.’46

However, the more intriguing and perhaps controversial questions relate to qualitative change. And here too the UN has changed dramatically since 1945. One qualitative means is to conduct a historical analysis and trace great events. International relations scholars typically trace movements from one historical period to another in terms of wars in general and great power wars in particular. World War II and the founding of the UN itself followed by the Cold War qualify as do many of the crises over the last sixty years in which the world organization has been involved—in security ones from the division of Palestine to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the implosion of the Balkans; in human rights from McCarthyism to Rwanda's genocide; and in development from the influx of newly independent countries to the Asian financial crisis of 1997–1998. By commission or omission, many such events are viewed as seminal for the UN and defining moments for international cooperation.

Qualitative change can be defined as difference in kind. Novelty and replacement are types of qualitative change. The presumption is of rupture, or a clear break between what once was and what currently is.47 To that extent, we are looking for discontinuities, when new forms replace old ones, which is pretty much the story of the United Nations—including, for instance, the creation of peacekeeping and the return to peace enforcement; the introduction of gender and other types of human rights mainstreaming; the change from protecting the environment to sustainable development.

Holsti notes that change is quite different for someone playing today's stock market or for those of us trying to understand it in international relations where recent events are not of interest unless they have a demonstrable effect on how diplomatic, military, or humanitarian work is actually done. ‘This is the Hegelian and Marxist problem: at what point,’ he asks, ‘does quantitative change lead to qualitative consequences?’48 In other words, we can also characterize as ‘new’ a tipping point49 at which quantitative change is so substantial that it constitutes something qualitatively ‘new.’

Many of the arguments about the shifts that have occurred over the last twenty years about the nature of humanitarian agencies, for example, are claims that the (p. 16) environment, the relationships among actors, and the process of delivery of relief itself have become more complex.50 In many respects, the sum of such changes in quantitative trends have combined in such a way as to have ‘system effects,’51 the equivalent of qualitative change. The growing involvement of states, for instance, has had a series of important consequences on the organization of humanitarian action. The use of the military for human protection purposes is undoubtedly the clearest example.52

In many instances, the contemporary international order is in turmoil. The mere quantity of developments may strike readers—it certainly does the editors—as the equivalent of qualitative change. In presenting his reform proposals to the General Assembly in March 2006, Secretary‐General Annan summarized: ‘Today's United Nations is vastly different from the Organization that emerged from the San Francisco conference more than 60 years ago.’53 In short, he was pointing to the obvious, namely a significant shake‐up in the way that the UN does business is essential to keep pace with the significantly altered circumstances six decades after its founding.

Determining ‘Success’ and ‘Failure’

A similar complication arises and constitutes a second analytical problem for readers who may be struggling to decide whether international cooperation through particular institutions has been a ‘success’ or a ‘failure.’ In this effort, they should keep in mind the often‐ignored distinction between the ‘two United Nations’54—one being the forum in which states make decisions and the other being the international civil service. Which UN is behind what is viewed as a success or failure, and to what extent? Both of these United Nations are woven throughout this Handbook as in most commentaries on the organization.

The success or failure of the ‘first’ UN, of course, depends upon governments' perceptions of their vital interests and the accompanying political will, or lack thereof, to move ahead within a multilateral framework. It is this United Nations that is most often the locus of evaluation by the public and scholars alike. But throughout the pages of this Handbook we show that the ‘second’ UN is capable, under certain circumstances, of leadership and influence that alter international outcomes. We maintain that individuals matter—for international secretariats as for all human endeavors. Success or failure in implementing policy is, of course, not independent of governments, resources, and political support. Yet there is more room for maneuver and autonomy for members of the international civil service, particularly in the intellectual and advocacy realms, than is often supposed.

The old adage comes to mind here—success has numerous parents, but failure is an orphan. States are often unwilling to dilute their sovereignty through multilateral cooperation and diplomacy, but they rarely are willing to blame themselves for breakdowns in international order and society. The ‘first’ UN has a convenient scapegoat in the ‘second’ UN, and vice versa. Conor Cruise O'Brien described the ‘sacred drama’ of these two entities whose creation was designed to appeal to the (p. 17) imagination. As such, he undoubtedly is correct in noting that ‘its truths are not literal truths, and its power not a material power.’55

The stage for the drama by these two United Nations has, over the last six decades, become increasingly crowded with a diversity of other actors.56 States are still the dominant players in the UN, and national interests have not receded as the basis for making decisions; and secretariats sometimes make a difference. However, there is substantial evidence that what might be called the ‘third’ UN—or perhaps the ‘complementary’ UN—is becoming increasingly salient. This consists in a host of important players who are part of a parallel world of independent experts and consultants whose job descriptions include research, policy analysis, and idea‐mongering. They work along with NGOs, the private sector, and other nonstate actors. These voices too appear in many of our chapters because they are playing more prominent roles in the United Nations. Thus, deciding who is responsible for what portion of the blame for failure or what contribution to success is an increasingly complex task—for our readers as for our authors.

The UN's Changing Fortunes in World Politics

The third variety of analytical problem reflects a common oversight: too many observers forget the ebb and flow of world politics. In trying to wrap their minds around the previous two problems, an additional complicating factor is a pattern of reactions to experiments with international organization—high hopes followed by disillusionment, which in turn has an impact on the performance of the United Nations.57 In the past, however, the disappointment often set in after a war or major cataclysm accompanied by the collapse of institutions—for example, the Concert of Europe or the League of Nations. Even without US participation in the latter, for example, the defections by important states took place over a decade and a half.

In the post‐Cold War era, however, the disillusionment/euphoria roller coaster seems to be accelerating, with highs and lows exchanged with greater frequency. Because often the UN's business is tied to this morning's headlines, maintaining some perspective is a challenge. National and international reactions to the performance of the world organization follow an up‐and‐down pattern. The changing fortunes of the UN are continual—sometimes it is viewed as an essential player in international society, and then suddenly it is marginalized.

It is essential, for instance, in evaluating the debate of the 1990s about humanitarian intervention and multilateralism to search for historical baselines, even in the recent past, against which subsequent changes can be gauged. Shortly after the 1991 Gulf War and the allied efforts in Iraqi Kurdistan, the word ‘renaissance’ was ubiquitous. Apparently, there was nothing that the organization could not do. However, by 1994 there was nothing that it could do to halt the murder of 800,000 people in Rwanda's nightmare. From that nadir, 1999 was then either an annus mirabilis or horribilis for the UN, depending on one's views, with interventions in East Timor and Kosovo. And then following Washington and London's decision in (p. 18) March 2003 to wage war in Iraq without explicit Security Council approval, the world organization was once again headed toward the ‘dark ages’ and confronted widespread disillusionment—there was nothing it could do to halt US hegemony, or there was nothing it could do to enforce decisions against the rogue regime of Saddam Hussein. Even seasoned observers of UN affairs seemed out of breath in attempting to gauge exactly the nature of the world organization's standing—not just in the United States but in ‘new’ and ‘old’ Europe, and virtually everywhere.

We would characterize the lead‐up to the sixtieth anniversary of the UN, for example, as a reflection of a distinctly ahistorical perspective. A good place to begin is the dramatic imagery of the Secretary‐General's famous ‘fork in the road’ speech,58 which formed the basis for convening the High‐level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (HLP).59 The Secretary‐General urged that ‘the UN must undergo the most sweeping overhaul in its 60‐year history.’60 The outcome of the September 2005 UN World Summit inevitably failed to live up to such high expectations. But neither were the cynics who predicted a dismal failure proved entirely right. The World Summit's outcome and the initial follow‐up indicated the tenacity of the organization with its ability to survive, grow, and adapt, but also that it achieves progress only through historical cycles of modest adaptation and change.

Its member states, throughout this process, continue to cling to the prerogatives of sovereignty while pursuing a predictable pattern. They find reasons to characterize the most incremental reforms in radiant hues, but they then begin again to bemoan the state of the world organization and assert that profound changes in the planet's situation necessitate sweeping structural renovations.

Despite these rhetorical sleights of hand, the UN's advances, while sometimes checkered, continue. Whether we consider more abstract advances in norm setting or concrete gains in the areas of conflict resolution, poverty alleviation, and human rights and democratization, the world organization—the first, second, and third United Nations—struggles to make the planet at least a little more habitable and hospitable.

We are reminded of a cautionary quip attributed to Dag Hammarskjöld: ‘The UN was not created to take humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell.’ Our view, which is reflected throughout the chapters in this Handbook, is that the relatively feeble power of the UN system will have to be augmented if many of the current threats to human survival and human dignity are to be adequately addressed. One reason that we are not in the netherworld already is the existence of the United Nations.

About this Book

With this overview now squarely before readers and in the interest of truth in packaging, we wish to make our own normative agenda clear. In putting together this collection of essays, we seek a better understanding of the origins, history, (p. 19) problems, and contributions of the world organization and the UN system as a whole. This, we hope, could result in improved strategies and tactics in the first decades of the turbulent twenty‐first century. A better comprehension of the deficiencies of the current generation of international organizations could lead to the identification of appropriate remedies.

When we agreed to edit this Handbook, our initial task was to find a knowledgeable group of authors to write the thirty‐nine chapters that follow. Brief biographies are found in the list of contributors at the beginning of this book. Adding to the value of this collection is the fact that all of the contributors have written extensively about the subject matter of their chapters or worked in a related field; many have done both.

Also at the outset of this Handbook, readers will find a lengthy list of abbreviations. The UN's discourse—like that of its member governments and the bevy of NGOs that follows its deliberations—is bedevilled with acronyms and abbreviations. Institutions and parts of them, along with individual peace operations, are almost always referred to by their initials. This alphabet soup may be off‐putting, but it is a linguistic reality. In order to save space, contributors use these short‐hand forms extensively, and so readers may need to consult the list with some frequency. In order to understand better the complicated interagency relationships that are present in every chapter, the reader may wish to consult the organizational diagram of the UN system in Appendix 2.

Also, in order to maximize space for analysis, illustrations, and appendices, we decided against a comprehensive bibliography, which would have duplicated the key references in each chapter. Hence, readers looking to pursue in‐depth additional reading and research will find a solid intellectual resource in the endnotes. Contributors have emphasized published rather than electronic sources because of our fear that many of the websites in use when the chapters were finalized early in 2007 might not be available over the shelf‐life of this volume.

However, in order to facilitate a novice's additional reading on every topic covered in this Handbook, we have exercised our collective editorial judgment and listed a handful of useful published works for each chapter. These sources are found in Appendix 1. With few exceptions, we have listed only recent books, which should be readily available in most research libraries.

Readers who wish to consult the texts of the UN Charter, the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will find them in Appendices 3, 4, and 5. Resolutions of the UN's principal organs are cited by number and date. Such texts along with many primary documents are readily available at (a domain that will not change).

In designing this book, we obviously had to make decisions on what would be included and what would not. Reasonable people may disagree with our choices. In the pages that follow, we explain the logic of that selection and briefly examine the contents of each chapter as they pertain to our theme of continuity and change.

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Part II: Theoretical Frameworks

The Handbook begins with overviews of the ways that international relations scholars and public international lawyers view the United Nations. Political and legal approaches provide the two main disciplinary tools for analyses of international organization. The two approaches are undoubtedly present in the educational backgrounds of many readers of this Handbook. They also provide the main vehicles for teaching in university classrooms where the United Nations is a core subject matter. Combining both of these approaches offers a sense of how knowledge about the UN system has grown since 1945. As one would expect, the ways of thinking about the world organization have changed almost as much as the institution itself and global politics over the last six decades.

In Chapter 2, ‘Political Approaches,’ Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore draw on their own substantial writing and teaching in order to provide a tour d'horizon of theoretical approaches that have dominated the study of international organization, including the UN, over the last half century. New threats, new actors, and new norms are directly reflected in the theories used by international relations scholars to generalize about what makes the world go round. Barnett and Finnemore explore how analysts have conceived the ways that the UN not only regulates the existing activities of states but also helps to weave the fabric of international society. For them, the world organization makes a difference to member states—large and small, powerful and weak. The chapter makes clear the various schools of thought developed throughout the twentieth century to understand the behavior and misbehavior of international institutions. Barnett and Finnemore conclude by making a plea for scholars to work harder to understand the nuts and bolts of influence within intergovernmental organizations—what we earlier described as the first, second, and third United Nations.

In Chapter 3, ‘Legal Perspectives,’ José E. Alvarez presents readers with a succinct summary of his own substantial writing and teaching at several prominent law schools. He addresses how international organizations with a global reach have changed the mechanisms and reasoning behind the making, implementation, and enforcement of international law. While the 1990s were declared the United Nations Decade of International Law, the overwhelming tradition of positivism among international lawyers, in his view, does not do justice to the complex and largely beneficial changes resulting from the components of the UN system and their increased importance as ‘lawmakers’ since World War II. Alvarez is not among the international lawyers who are skeptical about the value of the United Nations in creating both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ law. At the same time, he notes the disappearance of what had been an almost religious faith in law and multilateral approaches characteristic of the legal culture among those who helped design the world organization in the 1940s.

In Chapter 4, ‘Evolution in Knowledge,’ Leon Gordenker and Christer Jönsson bring to bear their combined three‐quarters of a century in classrooms around the world to explore what has constituted new ‘knowledge’ about international organization in general and the UN in particular since World War II. Gordenker and (p. 21) Jönsson examine the impact on the classroom and scholarship of the dominant approaches that emanate from Anglo‐Saxon academia and think‐tanks and that are reinforced by the preeminence of publishers and journals in North America and Europe. They also try to examine how the proverbial woman in the street has responded to different levels of knowledge over the years; they see little evidence that there is any in‐depth knowledge of common UN concepts among the public or policymakers outside of specialist circles. They argue for unpacking the influences of both the UN of states and the UN of secretariats as a key research challenge, and also for communicating with larger publics as a main civic challenge.

Part III: Principal Organs

The next part of the Handbook provides a basic introduction to the six principal organs and to the ‘secular pope,’ the Secretary‐General. The contents of this part are what many people understand as the United Nations. The main building blocks for the arenas where member states interact and make decisions and the people who constitute the second UN are spelled out.

M. J. Peterson's Chapter 5, ‘General Assembly,’ puts before readers the in‐depth knowledge that she has accumulated in writing two often‐cited books on this topic and in three decades of teaching UN studies. Many praise it as the ‘world's parliament,’ and others lambaste it as an ineffectual ‘talk shop.’ The Assembly is, of course, the forum where the sovereign equality of member states is taken very seriously. Indeed, the most prominent change in international relations in the second half of the twentieth century was the liberation of colonized peoples who now are the citizens of the overwhelming majority of member states. As there is no issue that is not on the Assembly's agenda, Peterson argues for a better division of labor with other principal organs and also an opening up of the General Assembly to other, nongovernmental voices.

In Chapter 6, ‘Security Council,’ David M. Malone brings to bear his edited and authored volumes on the UN's most powerful principal organ, which is responsible for determining what constitutes a threat to international peace and security, and often what international responses will result. This organ's first forty‐five years are an essential part of the story, but the four issues that we outlined earlier as elements in a substantially changed landscape—new threats, new actors, new notions of sovereignty, and a single superpower—are all very much present in Malone's discussion of a post‐Cold War Security Council. The extent to which decisions during the turbulent 1990s led to success or failure underlie the discussion, which includes the drama of the war in Iraq and its aftermath as essential challenges for the twenty‐first century. In essence, the Council still functions as a club of great powers—and some would argue that the P‐5 has effectively become the P‐1 because of the US's preponderant power.

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In Chapter 7, ‘Economic and Social Council,’ Gert Rosenthal relies on his research into this organ as well as his own stint as its president in examining the workings of what may be the most criticized principal organ. Besides twice increasing its size, the current fifty‐four‐member ECOSOC has, as Rosenthal notes, been criticized from the outset for its inability to pull together the various moving parts of an increasingly dispersed and complex UN system. It is unclear how the international system should respond to an increasingly complicated set of challenges to global survival and human dignity. However, ECOSOC's main weaknesses—an ambiguous relationship with the General Assembly, a lack of focus, an incapacity to attract high‐level policymakers to its meetings, and the non‐binding nature of its decisions—are unlikely to change in the near future. The proposal put forward by numerous groups to create an economic and social equivalent of the Security Council remains on the drawing boards of diplomatic architects rather than under construction.

In Chapter 8, ‘Trusteeship Council,’ Ralph Wilde examines a principal organ whose work was essential to the settlement arising from World War II, which involved establishing procedures for the independence of the defeated powers' colonies. This body accomplished its work so well that it should have been dismantled in 1994 when the last UN trusteeship, Palau, became independent. The difficulties of reforming the world organization are partially captured by that reality: this moribund organ continues to exist despite the 2005 World Summit's decision to put it to rest because implementation requires modifying the Charter, a non‐starter. Wilde details the UN's pioneering efforts at facilitating the decolonization of trust territories, one part of the story of the world organization's contribution to the processes of self‐determination for peoples in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. The work of the Trusteeship Council was linked to what arguably may have been the most important political change of the twentieth century. Paradoxically, the UN thus has contributed to strengthening the traditional notion of sovereignty around newly constituted states at the same time that it has contributed to its erosion, or at least redefinition, in other ways.

In Chapter 9, ‘Secretariat: Independence and Reform,’ James O. C. Jonah's three decades as a senior international civil servant suffuse the analysis of the staff members who are recruited to constitute what we have referred to as the ‘second UN.’ Taking as a point of departure the Nobelmaire principles formulated under the League of Nations and repeated by its successor, Jonah stresses the critical importance of independent and competent staff and the efforts championed especially by Secretary‐General Dag Hammarskjöld. He points out that politicians often blame government bureaucracies for failures and inadequacies, and that diplomats have a convenient scapegoat and can point a finger at the UN bureaucracy instead of a lack of political will. Nonetheless, Jonah sees the restoration and reinvigoration of the international civil service as the sine qua non of a strengthened United Nations in the new millennium.

Edward Newman's Chapter 10, ‘Secretary‐General,’ puts before readers his own analytical experience and writing about the Secretariat's most senior official, what the (p. 23) Charter calls its ‘Chief Administrative Officer.’ In the wake of the most serious and well‐documented scandal in UN history, the Oil‐for‐Food Programme, Newman explores the intricacies of trying to perform what is not an exaggeration to describe—in the words of the first Secretary‐General, Trygve Lie—as ‘the most impossible job in the world.’ While the Secretary‐General is not a principal organ, a separate chapter in this part is devoted to this topic because dealing with the new challenges of the contemporary world is in the small print in the job description of the UN's head. Shortly before this book went into production, the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council made a decision to appoint Ban Ki‐moon as the eighth person to hold the position.

In Chapter 11, ‘International Court of Justice,’ James Crawford and Tom Grant explore what journalists commonly call the ‘World Court.’ Crawford's writing and teaching about the UN's principal juridical organ is also infused with his practical experience before that body. Examining in detail the slow but steady growth of the global rule of law, Crawford and Grant begin with the juridical experiment of the League of Nations, the inaccurately labeled Permanent Court of International Justice. Charter Article 93 is clear that ‘All Members of the United Nations are ipso facto parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.’ As they point out, the Court in many ways goes against the grain of contemporary international relations and the proliferation of actors because Article 34 of its Statute specifies that ‘Only states may be parties in cases before the Court.’ While the ICJ's caseload has increased—until the 1990s, the fifteen judges handed down a ruling on only about a case and a half a year—there is little prospect that the ‘rule of law’ will be implemented soon by this body.

Part IV: Relationships with Other Actors

The fourth part of the Handbook provides an overview of how the world organization relates to the selected other actors whose activities are critically important to the actual functioning and performance of the UN system itself. The logic here is that it is impossible to understand the workings of the two United Nations without being familiar with the other institutions that often work in tandem with the world body.

In moving beyond the UN proper, in Chapter 12, ‘Regional Groups and Alliances,’ Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu draws on his own substantial writing about regional security and begins his analysis with the provisions of the Charter's Chapter VIII, ‘Regional Arrangements.’ The actual implementation of many Security Council decisions would have been a dead letter without subcontracting to these institutions—indeed, all of the more robust peace operations in the post‐Cold War world have included some form of involvement by regional arrangements. Sidhu clearly delineates their pluses and minuses in comparison with the universal United Nations. Of especial importance in thinking about the future resort to regional entities is the distinct difference in capacities between such regions as Europe with well‐financed (p. 24) and well‐equipped institutions and Africa, the continent with the most demand and perhaps the least capacity.

In Chapter 13, ‘Bretton Woods Institutions,’ Ngaire Woods's intimate knowledge of the Washington‐based international financial institutions (IFIs) is very much in evidence as she spells out the contributions and power of these institutions that are de jure part of the UN system but de facto not. The power and procedures of the IFIs form a theme that creeps into all of the historical and actual depictions of the UN's efforts to foster economic and social development. Criticism is not in short supply. The far greater resources of the IFIs are one element, but the more distinguishing characteristic consists of the weighted voting procedures that differ from the principle of sovereign equality of such UN bodies as the General Assembly. In Washington, the voice of the ‘haves’ (the main financial backers) is much louder and more influential than the ‘have nots’ (the recipients of World Bank and IMF financial resources). And the voice of the United States is the loudest of all, enjoying the same kind of effective veto in the Bretton Woods institutions that it possesses in the Security Council.

In Chapter 14, ‘Civil Society,’ Paul Wapner's extensive research on nonstate actors is obvious as he spells out how the UN's approaches to NGOs and civil society have evolved. The appearance of this important element in what we above called the ‘third UN’ began with the vision of Charter Article 71, an early effort to reflect in the organization's deliberations the reality of the Charter's opening lines, ‘We the Peoples of the United Nations.’ He points out that there have always been tensions between the world organization's state‐centered character and its aspiration to represent all the citizens of the globe. Many other chapters point to specific instances of inputs from NGOs—in global conferences, as executing agents for projects, as monitors and advocates—but Wapner's main concern is the enhanced legitimacy and accountability that come from involving civil society in intergovernmental deliberations and programs.

Craig N. Murphy's Chapter 15, ‘Private Sector,’ brings to the fore his lifelong teaching and analytical preoccupations with international political economy. He provides an extensive discussion of the for‐profit sector's growing involvement—after being held at arm's length for much of the UN's first half century—not only as a lobby but as an active partner in international cooperation. He begins with the irony that intergovernmental organizations arose largely in response to problems and opportunities created by capitalist industrialism, what we now call ‘economic globalization.’ In seeing both the benefits and costs of capitalism's foot in the UN door, Murphy explores the complement to non‐profit civil society in the for‐profit business world. As part of globalization's continuing march, the growth of transnational corporations (TNCs) has been at least as dramatic as that of civil society.

In Chapter 16, ‘Media,’ Barbara Crossette's career as a working journalist is evident in her treatment of a surprisingly understudied part of the puzzle of UN affairs, namely how it interacts with and is reflected in the treatment by print and visual media. While it is commonplace to point to the ‘CNN effect’ (or the ‘BBC (p. 25) effect’), Crossette is less impressed by evidence of such influence. She is more concerned to parse the various parts of the UN's public relations machinery and explore what makes ‘news’ for reporters covering the world organization. Here she is careful to trace the substantial changes over time—part technological, part political—that for a time rendered the UN of little news value. That, of course, changed with the end of the Cold War and the escalating number of crises on the world organization's daily agenda. She suggests that the UN itself try to set agendas rather than reacting to events as it has in the past.

Part V: International Peace and Security

Reflecting the UN's birth amidst the smoldering ashes of World War II, the fifth part of the Handbook is designed to provide the essential details—in addition to the dynamics of the principal organs discussed previously—of the organization's original raison d'être. The delegates from the fifty‐one states gathered in San Francisco had in mind the tragedies of interstate war and the memory that World War I had supposedly been ‘the war to end all wars.’ They were responding to future threats of aggression and were seeking to maintain international peace and security in what can only be, with any historical perspective, a Sisyphean task to ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.’

This part begins with Chapter 17, ‘Disarmament,’ by Keith Krause whose own research and teaching has focused over the years on the control of various types of arms. The failure of the League of Nations did not preclude UN work in this area—indeed, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it seemed imperative. This unheralded part of the world organization's work has in many ways represented a profound adaptation of UN structures, and Krause points to disarmament efforts (including the Conference on Disarmament and the International Atomic Energy Agency), the Nuclear Non‐Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the UN Special Commission in Iraq, and more recent efforts to tackle the problems of antipersonnel land mines and small arms. While he does not downplay the interests of major powers as circumscribing the UN's possible contributions, nonetheless Krause sees intergovernmental institutions as possessing a limited but valuable autonomy to shape these interests as well as to frame the normative structures within which these interests are pursued.

In Chapter 18, ‘Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Conflict Prevention,’ Rama Mani brings her own practical and analytical experience to bear on the issues spelled out or implicit in Charter Chapter VI, ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes.’ Continuity and change come together in an unusual way. She examines the array of arrows that traditionally have been in the UN Secretary‐General's quiver—negotiations, fact‐finding, mediation, good offices, conciliation, and arbitration—along with some more recent inventions, including international tribunals and regional arrangements. As a result of leadership by Secretaries‐General Boutros‐Ghali and Annan, the (p. 26) ‘culture of prevention’ has become one of the world organization's main rhetorical emphases—an important contemporary interpretation of Chapter VI.

In Chapter 19, ‘Peacekeeping Operations,’ Michael W. Doyle and Nicholas Sambanis put before readers the essential dimensions of this UN ‘invention.’ ‘Chapter VI and a half’ is a term often used to describe the peculiar military efforts that go beyond the peaceful resolution of disputes in Chapter VI but fall short of the war‐fighting enforcement in Chapter VII, ‘Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression.’ Most of the chapter is devoted to analyzing the effectiveness of contemporary UN peacekeeping as part of a comprehensive strategy to achieve sustainable peace. Here, ‘success’ and ‘failure’ are really in the eye of the beholder, or a subjective judgment from the evaluator. For Doyle and Sambanis the emphasis is on how and when peace is ‘sustainable.’ The authors examine peacekeeping as it interacts with peacemaking, peace enforcement, and post‐conflict reconstruction—indeed, the standard character of second‐generation operations was multifunctionality, a novelty in comparison with traditional peacekeeping during the Cold War era. Drawing upon their own empirical work, they see participation, rather than a mere cessation of violence, as the key variable in success, which is more likely after non‐ethnic wars, in countries with relatively high development levels, and when UN peace operations and substantial financial assistance are available. Unfortunately, these conditions rarely characterize UN operations starting in the dramatically turbulent years of the 1990s.

In Chapter 20, ‘Sanctions,’ David Cortright, George A. Lopez, and Linda Gerber‐Stellingwerf begin our consideration of enforcement with the least forceful provisions of Chapter VII. No other names are more intimately associated with this topic, on which the two senior authors have collaborated since sanctions became a favored tool of statecraft in the 1990s. This is certainly one area where substantial task expansion has occurred. During the UN's first forty‐five years, the Security Council employed sanctions only twice—against Southern Rhodesia in 1966 and South Africa in 1977. During the next fifteen years, however, the Council adopted dozens of sanctions resolutions levied against sixteen distinct targets, including states and nonstate actors. Partially as a result of the experience—and certainly the negative humanitarian consequences of sanctions in Iraq—we have witnessed selective and targeted sanctions that bear little resemblance to the poorly‐monitored, often blunt measures imposed in the early 1990s which often were manipulated by regimes to get their populations to ‘rally around the flag’. There is, however, little evidence that these less‐than‐comprehensive sanctions actually alter policy by the targeted political authorities.

In Chapter 21, ‘Peace Enforcement,’ Michael Pugh continues the discussion of Chapter VII with the ultimate enforcement measure, the use of military force to back up Security Council decisions. Bringing to the essay his own experience as an author, teacher, and journal editor on these matters, he contests the notion that there has been a significant change in the underlying determinants of UN enforcement. He begins by parsing the elastic definitions that surround this topic. He does not believe (p. 27) that enforcement is based either on fixed rights or on an evolving norm but rather on traditional power politics. Pugh concisely surveys the key cases after the UN's renaissance in the 1990s and documents the extent to which subcontracting to major powers and regional organizations was the only feasible way to project military force to back up international decisions. The predominant military power of the United States is a main theme. Pugh hesitates to characterize as an unqualified success any use of the blunt instrument of military enforcement—with or without a UN blessing. Pugh's chapter, as well as others, makes clear that UN peace operations are remarkably cheap—in 2005, for example, the combined cost of all UN peace operations was $5 billion, approximately 5 percent of annual US costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. And in spite of many criticisms, the numbers of soldiers in UN operations outnumber the foreign military deployments of any country other than the United States. In the first five years of the twenty‐first century, UN peacekeepers increased by nearly 500 percent. And during this same time, peacekeepers from regional organizations (often seen as the wave of the future) fell by half.

In Chapter 22, ‘Humanitarian Intervention,’ Ramesh Thakur applies his own broad‐gauged analytical experience to one of the most controversial topics of the 1990s—the use of military force to protect human beings. Humanitarian intervention is the extension of fourth‐century arguments by St. Augustine and seventeenth‐century ones by Hugo Grotius. But the current manifestation of ‘the responsibility to protect’ provides an interesting distinction for Thakur because the so‐called right to humanitarian intervention has been so controversial for so many developing countries. He thus begins his essay with an examination of humanitarian interventions by colonial powers in the nineteenth century. He then proceeds to what may be the fastest‐moving normative development of our times—namely that the rights of human beings sometimes trump those of the states in which they live. In spite of Charter Article 2 (7) and basic continuities in the Westphalian system, the redefinition of sovereignty—to include conditions of respect for human rights and of the principle of nonintervention when a state is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens from mass murder and war crimes—is a fundamental alteration in UN decision‐making and international relations.

In Chapter 23, ‘Post‐Conflict Peacebuilding,’ Roland Paris's extensive writing and teaching on the topic are obvious in his treatment of the UN's efforts to move beyond violence once peace finally breaks out. The proliferation of civil wars has presented a substantial challenge to the UN system in trying to rebuild state capacity in countries ripped apart by the new threats and actors described earlier. Paris describes the trial‐and‐error experiments of helping mend war‐torn countries in the 1990s. He sees a process of learning by which market democracy is no longer, if it ever was, seen as a miracle cure. There are no quick fixes because peacebuilding requires long‐lasting and intrusive forms of international involvement in post‐conflict countries, the kinds of commitment that are rare among donors. Among the more significant other lessons from UN efforts are the importance of building effective domestic institutions as well as the requirement for more effective coordination among the diverse array of (p. 28) international actors. The establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission in December 2005 as a result of the World Summit may be a step in the right direction.

Jane Boulden's Chapter 24, ‘Terrorism,’ provides readers with a tour d'horizon of UN efforts that began decades before that now fateful date, 11 September 2001, which many observers view as having fundamentally altered many international security calculations—certainly those of the United States. UN deliberations have assumed increased importance since that moment when a different type of possibility—namely the possibility of WMDs in the hands of a rogue state—has upped the international ante. Boulden discusses the two main sticking points in UN discussions, which ironically have led to several important treaties but to no definition. The first is captured by the expression ‘your terrorist is my freedom fighter’—that is, many countries view as legitimate armed violence by those fighting for national liberation. The second is whether ‘state terrorism’ should be included in any definition agreed by the vast majority of member states—the use of force by Israeli and more recently US forces, for some, is mentioned in the same breath as suicide bombers. Among the many new threats on the UN's current agenda, those described in this chapter stand out as unsettling future challenges.

Part VI: Human Rights

The sixth part of the Handbook aims to put before our readers insights into what many believe to be the most ‘revolutionary’ of UN ideas, the international measures to enhance the protection of human rights. The tension—some would say contradiction—is obvious between the respect for fundamental human rights and the Charter's call in Article 2 (7): ‘Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.’ Much of the recent debate revolves around the possible interpretations of ‘essentially.’

In Chapter 25, ‘Norms and Machinery,’ Bertrand G. Ramcharan's active thirty‐year UN career in the human rights arena is obvious as is his own extensive writing on the topic. His point of departure is the revolutionary implications of taking human rights seriously, which leads him to discuss two possible analytical lenses through which to examine the UN's story. On the one hand, there are the all too evident failures, with the massive violations of the rights of large groups of humankind frequently ignored. On the other hand, Ramcharan highlights the struggle to move forward with the standard that societies should be governed by a basic respect for human rights and without discrimination on grounds of race, sex, language, or religion. He examines the acute difficulties of the UN's using the bully pulpit while being mindful of the principles of respect and confidence‐building. The transformation of the Commission on Human Rights into the Human Rights Council as a result of the 2005 World Summit was the latest manifestation of clashing views between the West and many developing countries; but most observers viewed the (p. 29) March 2006 General Assembly decision to move ahead as a step in the right direction.

The experience and wisdom of Justice Richard Goldstone are clear from Chapter 26, ‘International Criminal Court and Ad Hoc Tribunals.’ His point of departure is a relatively longer‐run perspective of the last century and a half, which for him represents the relatively ‘recent’ experience in formulating a truly global rule of law. This chapter focuses on contemporary international efforts to consolidate and codify significant portions of existing customary international law through decisions rendered by the ad hoc UN tribunals for a number of countries and the passage of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In spite of the demonstrated reluctance and hostility from major powers, Goldstone sees as much change as continuity in that the ICC is an especially vital development in the emergence of a single model for international criminal justice, a substantial building block for the twenty‐first century.

In Chapter 27, ‘Humanitarian Action and Coordination,’ readers find substantial evidence of Jeff Crisp's intimate exposure to civilian intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations that work to protect and assist human beings caught in the throes of war. This ‘growth industry’ of the 1990s—expenditures went from $2 billion to $6 billion over the turbulent 1990s and in 2005 were close to $10 billion—is illuminated by his discussion of a network of institutions struggling to respond to the spate of what became known as ‘complex humanitarian emergencies.’ Crisp analyzes the history of UN humanitarian action, in both natural and human‐made disasters, as a way to argue that, while many contemporary problems have existed since 1945, they have become more acute with the dramatic growth in the humanitarian enterprise in the post‐Cold War period. The tensions over jurisdiction and turf present in other chapters come to the surface most clearly in Crisp's examination of the bevy of UN institutions, and their NGO partners, that flock to the scene of contemporary humanitarian emergencies.

Charlotte Bunch's Chapter 28, ‘Women and Gender,’ draws upon her teaching and research into this issue as well as her own active participation in many of the UN's more recent normative efforts in this arena. The UN's visible efforts for women began to be noticed with the preparation for the World Conference of the International Women's Year in Mexico City in 1975, but they actually started with earlier endeavors to quantify women's contributions to economic development. After discussing the differences between women and gender, Bunch critically examines the norms and their institutional manifestations as well as selected UN system efforts to promote women's rights in development, health, human rights, and peace and security. Bunch balances her evaluation of how much things have changed for women and girls over the last six decades with a criticism of the world organization itself whose moral authority is weakened by failing to live up to its own high standards in the recruitment and promotion of women.

Yves Beigbeder's World Health Organization (WHO) and UN career in headquarters and the field provides a background for Chapter 29, ‘Children.’ A host of international meetings, resolutions, movements, and reports have increased the (p. 30) interest of leaders and public opinion in the international protection of children's rights, the preoccupation of one of the UN's most popular units since its inception. UNICEF is the focus for Beigbeder's examination, but other UN organizations also enter into the diplomatic promotion of children's rights and into associated operational issues. The emphasis on children is hardly new—the League of Nations had a program, and many NGOs have been working on the issue for decades. The Convention on the Rights of the Child broke all records in terms of its rapid entry into force. And while in many ways nothing should be easier and less politically sensitive than protecting the next generation, the international protection of children's rights remains a twenty‐first century challenge.

In Chapter 30, ‘Minorities and Indigenous Peoples,’ Maivân Clech Lâm begins her essay by reminding readers of World War II and the catastrophic results of having ignored minority rights during the interwar years. Her own writing and teaching about critical race theory provide an excellent vantage point for her clear delineation of the nature of the two nascent regimes of international human rights law that respond to both personal and collective vulnerabilities. UN efforts here have aimed to ensure that minorities are protected and can participate in the dominant societies in which they live, while the cultures of indigenous peoples require protection from the societies around them which, in all too many cases, have almost obliterated them. For the latter, globalization has both threatened their existence and made it possible for others to be aware of their plight.

In Chapter 31, ‘Human Security,’ Fen O. Hampson and Christopher K. Penny provide not only a fitting introduction to this crucial and increasingly salient policy topic but also a transition to the next part of the Handbook. They draw on their own substantial work on this topic, from the point of view of international relations and law respectively, to spell out the benefits of recalibrating the definition of ‘security’ to emphasize human beings instead of states. Indeed, human security is firmly entrenched in today's language of world politics and reflects the UN's role in advancing and sometimes enforcing new international norms that place the individual—and not member states—at the core of modern understandings of international security. However individual human security is defined, it has certainly been enhanced by the work of the United Nations. But Hampson and Penny do not shy away from pointing to some of the analytical and policy costs arising from casting the net widely, which was the dominant characteristic of the 2005 World Summit and has become an increasingly popular framing for many agencies and governments.

Part VII: Development

The purpose of the seventh part of the Handbook is to introduce briefly some of the more essential and pertinent aspects of the UN's efforts to foster economic and social development. While the maintenance of international peace and security was clearly the raison d'être for the world organization's founding, the emphases and the actual (p. 31) work have changed substantially over time. While development was originally framed essentially as a way to ensure peace, the rapid pace of decolonization resulted in a change in priorities for the world organization—development was an essential objective in and of itself for newly independent countries. The contributions of the UN to development thinking and practice are seriously understudied.61 Indeed, economic and social development—for example, the activities in such sectors as food, industry, and education—could be the subject of an entire handbook. Here, however, we have to content ourselves with an overview of several essential current topics that have clear transnational dimensions and also are part of the challenge of development. Readers should, of course, be mindful that many other chapters in the Handbook deal with important aspects of economic and social advancement.

Jacques Fomerand's long UN career and experience as an analyst and instructor is complemented by Dennis Dijkzeul's in Chapter 32, ‘Coordinating Economic and Social Affairs.’ Their chapter explores the historical and ongoing intricacies of cooperation across the various specialized agencies as well as special programs and funds of the UN's extended development system. They point to structural difficulties—separate funding and governing structures in institutions located across the globe—that are mixed with conventional bureaucratic politics and turf‐consciousness. Moreover, the authors highlight the autonomy of the World Bank and the IMF—whose resources and annual disbursements dwarf those of the entire UN system—that make the Bretton Woods institutions distinct from the UN system even if the organizational chart includes them as linked components. In thinking through the challenges of the Charter's connection between economic and social development and the fundamental purpose of saving future generations from the scourge of war, they trace the reasons why development became the work of the world organization with the influx of almost 150 countries since 1945. The oft‐heard criticism is of sclerosis in the UN system, but its evolution is actually never‐ending. In February 2006, for example, the Secretary‐General set up a fifteen‐member High‐level Panel on UN System‐wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian aid, and the environment. Whether this effort—co‐chaired by the prime ministers of Mozambique, Norway, and Pakistan—will result in tinkering or actually lead to a substantial rationalization of the system remains to be seen.62

Gian Luca Burci's analytical and practical familiarity provides the basis for Chapter 33, ‘Health and Infectious Disease.’ There is continuity between UN efforts and those by states in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The control of infectious diseases has an inherently international dimension because national boundaries do not halt pathogens; and the international movement of persons, animals, and goods makes every country vulnerable. Still, the dawn of new threats—HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARs, and avian flu to name just a few from the last decades—suggests new vulnerabilities as well as new possibilities for international cooperation through the WHO and other UN organizations. The major achievement to date which suggests the effectiveness of a multilateral attack on infectious diseases was (p. 32) the eradication of smallpox in 1980—moreover, poliomyelitis probably will be eradicated within the next few years. At the same time, any exploration of these successes has been tempered by failed campaigns to control malaria and tuberculosis along with the seemingly futile fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Whether framing diseases and bio‐terrorism as threats to international peace and security will foster multilateral or unilateral responses remains an open question.

In Chapter 34, ‘Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development,’ Nico Schrijver's exposure not only as an author and teacher but also as a legal practitioner is in evidence in his authoritative treatment of another quintessentially modern challenge that does not respect national boundaries, the effective management of the world's natural resources. While in 1945 the new world organization was conceived to maintain or restore international peace and security, Schrijver points out that throughout its existence the UN has had a profound impact on natural resource management, both conceptually and operationally. In many ways the UN's two blockbuster conferences on the topic of the human environment—in Stockholm in 1972 and in Rio de Janeiro in 1992—are markers of the efforts by state and especially nonstate actors to reframe the human relationship with the natural environment and development. As Schrijver points out, the initial clash between conservation and development has been reframed as ‘sustainable development,’ a useful analytical framework to bridge the North—South divide. The disconnect between the size of environmental challenges and the relatively feeble international machinery for addressing them—for example, the UN Environment Programme and the World Bank—is stark.

In Chapter 35, ‘Organized Crime,’ Frank G. Madsen probes a little‐known but growing role of the UN, namely the world organization's contribution to combating transnational organized crime, including illicit traffic in drugs and in human beings. On the one hand, UN efforts in this arena are based on the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and thus are not new. On the other hand, reinterpretations of older conventions are crucial in today's world where rapid communications, global financial systems, and ease of transportation increasingly place national authorities at a disadvantage in fighting such illicit activity. Even the prosecution of criminal cases assumes extreme complexity when dealing with different criminal laws and different legal systems. As Madsen points out, eradicating terrorism and money laundering is like putting a stop to the trafficking of illicit drugs and humans in that these should be intrinsic and not additional UN activities.

In Chapter 36, ‘Democracy and Good Governance,’ W. Andy Knight's long‐standing research and teaching is very much in evidence as he examines what emerged in the 1990s as the overriding priority in approaches to development assistance and investment. Only a few states that signed the Charter in 1945 had democratically elected governments; but that number increased gradually to about forty in the 1970s and then dramatically after the end of the Cold War to around 120 countries today. Because of the intrusions into the so‐called domestic prerogatives of recipient states, the UN has had limited success in addressing the need for better national policies—liberalization and democratization are the essence of ‘good governance.’ (p. 33) At the same time, the UN system has struggled to go beyond organizing elections as the only component of ‘democratization.’ Pointing out that the terms do not figure in the Charter or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Knight nonetheless shows how much of the UN's normative and operational work has been devoted to these areas. The gap between rhetoric and reality constitutes a substantial democratic deficit—in member states and in the Secretariat.

In Chapter 37, ‘Human Development,’ Richard Jolly not only provides an overview of the approach of human development that has characterized much of UN development thinking since the early 1990s, but also helps highlight the importance of numerous institutions in the UN development system that are not singled out for separate treatment in this Handbook. Based on a long and distinguished career as a development practitioner and theorist, Jolly puts before readers the concern with accelerated economic and social development that has been a hallmark of the UN's efforts on behalf of developing countries from the outset. Arguing that the world organization and its component parts have followed a multidisciplinary approach to development—in contrast with the primarily economic framework championed by the World Bank and the IMF—Jolly concentrates on the conceptual approach that has been continually refined with the annual publication, beginning in 1990, of UNDP's Human Development Report. He also sees the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a possible bridge between the UN system and the Bretton Woods institutions.

Part VIII: Prospects for Reform

The final part of the Handbook returns explicitly to our main theme but looks more toward the future than the present or past. The ongoing struggle to update the world organization in light of the new threats and new actors that figure prominently in these pages was most obvious in the September 2005 World Summit in New York. Here, three authors put squarely before readers the constraints inhibiting radical structural alteration in the United Nations—those working against substantial reform, more flexibility in financing, and wider participation—but with a sensitivity to what may be possible in the next decade. All point to considerable evidence of adaptation and change over the last sixty years while indicating that no such impression is widely shared by even the intelligent reading public.

No one is better qualified than Edward C. Luck to write Chapter 38, ‘Principal Organs.’ A lifelong student of the UN's processes, policies, and practices as well as of what may be the most important national dimension, US—UN relations, he focuses on the proposals on the negotiating tables at the World Summit dealing with four of the principal organs (the Security Council, the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and the suspended Trusteeship Council) whose characteristics raise similar reform conundrums. As in all his writing, however, Luck is careful to situate these ambitious reform possibilities in a proper historical context. In fact, the world organization has (p. 34) evolved in so many ways that its founders might not recognize many of its activities on the contemporary stage. Reform and change have been a constant refrain. At the same time, Luck examines the intricacies and the politics of the peculiar moment that was the sixtieth anniversary. The world organization is no stranger to controversy and criticism, but attempts to solve political problems by procedural changes are bound to fall short. He reminds readers of the oft‐cited comment that reform is a process—not an event—and that the UN adapts to changing circumstances far more rapidly than it adopts structural reform.

In Chapter 39, ‘Financing,’ Jeffrey Laurenti's in‐depth familiarity—gathered in a number of capacities with private organizations working to foster multilateral cooperation—is obvious as he spells out the proverbial bottom line of the world organization's ability to act. Resources are one concrete way to measure political will and commitment. Moreover, while the topic of UN financing would appear to some as mere housekeeping and the details of administration as boring and of little interest, in fact some of the most contentious political struggles that have wracked and at times imperiled the world organization have centered on its financing. Because financial resources are a fundamental metric of power, Laurenti outlines why it is hardly surprising that the major donors want their preferences to be heard. That the UN is not a world government is perhaps most obvious here because it levies no taxes and has no independent sources of finance, but must rely on the assessed and voluntary contributions of its member governments. The clash between the realities of power, especially of the United States as the main contributor, and Charter values are reflected in the recurrent battles over the state of the UN's financial health.

In Chapter 40, ‘Widening Participation,’ Chadwick F. Alger provides an appropriate book end with his examination of the changing face of multilateralism. He emphasizes the need for pluralizing the voices heard in UN deliberations, for taking more seriously the Charter Preamble's clarion call, ‘We the Peoples of the United Nations.’ His starting point resembles that of other chapters in this volume, namely that multilateralism has undergone continual change throughout the history of the United Nations; and he suggests that this dynamic process will continue. With the proliferation of actors and technologies, Alger observes the increasing involvement by nonstate actors in addition to the traditional foreign policy bureaucracies of member state governments. In the past, many observers saw the logical conclusion of UN efforts as a world government, modeled on those of existing states. But increasingly, the messier notion of global governance is the rubric under which many members of civil society attempt to improve international order. Alger calls upon readers to get involved in civil society organizations, business groups, and local groups and thereby change from unconscious to conscious participants in international society.

We wish readers bon voyage as they embark on their journey through the history of continuity and change in the United Nations since 1945.


(1.) Craig Murphy, International Organization and Industrial Change: Global Governance since 1850 (Cambridge: Polity, 1994).

(2.) Adam Roberts and Benedict Kingsbury, ‘Introduction: The UN's Roles in International Society since 1945,’ in United Nations: Divided World, 2nd edn., ed. Adam Roberts and Benedict Kingsbury (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 1.

(3.) Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977). A more recent treatment is Robert Jackson, The global Covenant: Human Conduct in a World of States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

(4.) Michael G. Schechter, United Nations Global Conferences (London: Routledge, 2005).

(5.) Inis L. Claude, Jr., Swords into Plowshares: The Problems and Prospects of International Organization (New York: Random House, 1956).

(6.) This is the definition used to determine whether a particular war was tabulated. Peter Wallensteen and Margareta Sollenberg, ‘Armed Conflict, 1989–2000,’ Journal of Peace Research 38, no. 5 (2001), 632. Some have argued that there has been an upswing in the number, intensity, and duration of civil wars, particularly since 1989. However, data indicate that the quantity of overall conflicts decreased while negotiated settlements increased over the 1990s. See Swedish International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 1998: Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 17. This SIPRI data is shortened and updated annually by Wallensteen and Sollenberg in the Journal of Peace Research.

(7.) UNDP, Human Development Report 2002: Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 85.

(8.) Andrew Mack et al., Human Security Report 2005: War and Peace in the 21st Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

(9.) Mary Kaldor, New & Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); Mark Duffield, Global Governance and the New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security (London: Zed Books, 2001); and Peter J. Hoffman and Thomas G. Weiss, Sword & Salve: Confronting New Wars and Humanitarian Crises (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).

(10.) Stephen John Stedman, ‘Spoiler Problems in Peace Processes,’ International Security 22, no. 2 (1997): 5–53.

(11.) See Union of International Associations, ‘International Organizations by Type (Table 1),’ in Yearbook of International Organizations (Brussels: Union of International Associations, 2006).

(12.) Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius, and Mary Kaldor, ‘Introducing Global Civil Society,’ in Global Civil Society 2001, ed. Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius, and Mary Kaldor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 4.

(13.) Kerstin Martens, NGOs and the United Nations: Institutionalization, Professionalization and Adaptation (Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 2.

(14.) See Johan Kaufmann, United Nations Decision Making (Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands: Sijthoff & Noordhoff, 1980).

(15.) Stephen Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).

(16.) Andrew Chadwick, Internet Politics: States, Citizens, and New Communication Technologies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

(17.) For example, see David Held and Anthony McGrew, with David Goldblatt and Jonathan Perraton, Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, and Culture (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999).

(18.) Richard O'Brien, Global Financial Integration: The End of Geography (London: Pinter, 1992).

(19.) Ernst B. Haas, Beyond the Nation‐State: Functionalism and International Organization (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1964).

(20.) Boutros Boutros‐Ghali, An Agenda for Peace (New York: UN, 1992), para. 17.

(21.) Paul Szasz, ‘General Law Making Processes,’ in United Nations Legal Order, ed. Oscar Schachter and Christopher Joyner (Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 1995), 35 and 59.

(22.) See, for example, Frances M. Deng et al., Sovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa (Washington, DC: Brookings, 1996); Kofi A. Annan, ‘We the Peoples’: The United Nations in the 21st Century (New York: UN, 2000); and International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), The Responsibility to Protect (Ottawa: ICISS, 2001).

(23.) Kofi A. Annan, The Question of Intervention: Statements by the Secretary‐General (New York: UN, 1999), 7.

(24.) Gerald B. Helman and Steven R. Ratner, ‘Saving Failed States,’ Foreign Policy, no. 89 (1992–1993): 3–20.

(25.) Martin Meredith, The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (London: Free Press, 2005).

(26.) See Joseph E. Nye, Jr., The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

(27.) Donald J. Puchala, ‘The United Nations and Hegemony,’ International Studies Review 7, no. 4 (2005): 571–584.

(28.) Edward C. Luck, Mixed Messages: American Politics and International Organization 1919–1999 (Washington, DC: Brookings, 1999).

(29.) Nye, The Paradox of American Power.

(30.) For a variety of interpretations, see Rosemary Foot, S. Neil MacFarlane, and Michael Mastanduno, eds., US Hegemony and International Organizations: The United States and Multilateral Institutions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); Steward Patrick and Shepard Forman, eds., Multilateralism & US Foreign Policy: Ambivalent Engagement (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2002); David M. Malone and Yuen Foong Khong, eds., Unilateralism & US Foreign Policy: International Perspectives (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2003); and Michael Byers and Georg Nolte, eds., United States Hegemony and the Foundations of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

(31.) Harold K. Jacobson, Networks of Interdependence: International Organizations and the Global Political System, 2nd edn. (New York: Knopf, 1984), 84.

(32.) Quoted by J. Martin Rochester, Between Peril and Promise: The Politics of International Law (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2006), 27.

(33.) See Ramesh Thakur and Thomas G. Weiss, The UN and Global Governance: An Idea and its Prospects (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, forthcoming), ch. 1. See also Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore, Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004); and Margaret P. Karns and Karen A. Mingst, International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2004).

(34.) James N. Rosenau and Ernst‐Otto Czempiel, Governance Without Government: Order and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); and Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

(35.) UNDP, Human Development Report 1999: Globalization with a Human Face (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 8.

(36.) The following draws on Louis Emmerij, Richard Jolly, and Thomas G. Weiss, Ahead of the Curve? UN Ideas and Global Challenges (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 17–19; and The Power of UN Ideas: Lessons from the First 60 Years (New York: United Nations Intellectual History Project, 2005), 3–4.

(37.) Edward Hallett Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919–1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (London: Macmillan, 1939).

(38.) UNDP, Human Development Report 2005: International Cooperation at a Crossroads: Aid, Trade and Security in an Unequal World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 3.

(39.) Kalevi J. Holsti, Taming the Sovereigns: Institutional Change in International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 12–13.

(40.) Freedom House, Democracy's Century: A Survey of Global Political Change in the 20th Century (New York: Freedom House, 1999).

(41.) This information is updated from David M. Malone, ed., The UN Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2004).

(42.) David Held and Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt, and Jonathan Perraton, Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999), 53.

(43.) José E. Alvarez, International Organizations as Lawmakers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 273–337.

(44.) Erskine Childers with Brian Urquhart, Renewing the United Nations System (Uppsala, Sweden: Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, 1994), 143.

(45.) This figure represents approximately half of the biennial 1974–1975 budget. See UN General Assembly resolution 3551, 17 December 1975.

(46.) Childers and Urquhart, Renewing the United Nations System, 28–30, 143.

(47.) The related distinction between evolutionary and revolutionary change also is germane, as is the analytical distinction between punctuated equilibrium and evolution. See John Campbell, Institutional Change and Globalization (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 34.

(48.) Holsti, Taming the Sovereigns, 8.

(49.) Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2002).

(50.) See Michael Barnett and Thomas G. Weiss, eds., Humanitarianism in Question: Politics, Power, Ethics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008 forthcoming).

(51.) Robert Jervis, System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social Life (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).

(52.) Thomas G. Weiss, Military—Civilian Interactions: Humanitarian Crises and the Responsibility to Protect, 2nd edn. (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).

(53.) Kofi A. Annan, Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide, UN document A/60/692, 7 March 2006, 1.

(54.) Inis L. Claude, Jr., ‘Peace and Security: Prospective Roles for the Two United Nations,’ Global Governance 2, no. 3 (1996): 289–298.

(55.) Conor Cruise O'Brien, The United Nations: Sacred Drama (London: Hutchinson, 1968), book jacket.

(56.) See Robert W. Cox and Harold K. Jacobson, eds., The Anatomy of Influence: Decision Making in International Organization (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1973).

(57.) Francis. H. Hinsley, Power and the Pursuit of Peace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963).

(58.) The ‘UN Secretary‐General's Address to the General Assembly, as delivered on 23 September 2003,’ available at:

(59.) High‐level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility (New York: UN, 2004).

(60.) Kofi A. Annan, ‘In Larger Freedom: Decision Time at the UN,’ Foreign Affairs 84, no. 3 (2005): 66. This is the title of his own summary document for the summit: In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All, UN document A/59/2005, 21 March 2005.

(61.) The independent United Nations Intellectual History Project began a remedial effort in 1999. For information, see

(62.) United Nations High‐level Panel on UN System‐wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance, and the Environment, Delivering as One (New York: UN, 2006).