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date: 16 February 2020

(p. vi) Acknowledgments

(p. vi) Acknowledgments

In the sixty‐plus years 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 Oxford Handbook on the United Nations fills a long‐standing gap in the small library of distinguished guides to the humanities, sciences, and social sciences published by Oxford University Press (OUP). For libraries and research depositories worldwide, this book brings alive the historical, legal, political, and administrative details of the UN's many roles in well over a half‐century.

Our task was to contextualize the world organization's role in helping to realize international achievements that, by the standards of previous centuries, have been unprecedented. Inevitably, the early hopes have wavered, especially when dashed by the bitter realities of international politics and conflicting economic interests. Even so, the vision and early ambitions have never been entirely lost—and the UN has continued to refashion its goals and objectives through the ups and downs of subsequent decades. We hope that we have captured the hopes and the despair, the triumphs and the tragedies, what has been achieved and especially what challenges remain.

One of the more agreeable tasks in writing a book is thanking the people who helped along the way. We begin with our editor at OUP, Dominic Byatt, who was not bashful about asking the two of us to assemble, between two covers, 400,000 words about the six‐decade history of the present generation of global institutions. His confidence was reassuring, his astute advice invaluable, and his warm support unstinting. We would also like to express our gratitude to the OUP team who worked so efficiently with Dominic on this volume: Lizzy Suffling and Claire Croft for their administrative and organizational support, and Tom Chandler for his willingness to take on such a substantial copyediting task and complete it with such care and thoroughness.

The next round of appreciation goes to the forty‐seven invited contributors whose analyses and prose grace these pages. When we agreed to edit this Handbook in June 2004, the task seemed daunting. Taking into account the commercial limits of what was a feasible project, we outlined what we thought every reader should know about the world organization but might be afraid to ask. After having decided upon the magic number of forty chapters, we then set about locating knowledgeable contributors. Using our respective multinational and multi‐generational address books, along with those of colleagues, and searching libraries and our own bookshelves, we assembled what readers will agree is a world‐class team. They have all either written extensively on the topic of their essays or been active practitioners in a (p. vii) related field—indeed, the vast majority have done both. Clearly, this Handbook reflects that collective wisdom.

It is no exaggeration to state that we could not have successfully completed a project of this magnitude and complexity without superb staff support at our two institutions. In the process of compiling the chapters, it suddenly dawned on us that we were actually trying to put together the equivalent of four edited books. The lion's share of the staff work was accomplished at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies of The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. Five graduate students in particular should be singled out. First and foremost, we are extremely grateful to Ausama Abdelhadi who, from the very outset through June 2006, helped organize the logistics of this endeavor, chased down sources, and checked facts; and we relied on him for his critical eye in the logic of presentations. Quite simply, this volume would not have taken the shape it did without his help. Ian Jones and Zeynep Turan tidied up many of the early drafts and also checked citations and facts. Janet Reilly took over the relay in August 2006 and helped shepherd the manuscript through the queries, copy‐editing, and page‐proofs. Last but certainly anything except least, Danielle Zach Kalbacher's fastidious editing and attention to statistics improved the quality of many presentations, including our own; the care that she gives to every detail of a final product is exemplary, and in this case the very size of the manuscript made for an enormous number of details. And at the London headquarters of the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom, Veronica Lie exercised a meticulous eye to support the European side of the project, undertaking substantial research and the rewriting of several chapters. She was ably assisted by Tim Kellow, Mark Rusling and Natalie Samarasinghe. These nine individuals deserve a special round of applause from us and our readers.

We are also grateful for the financial and intellectual support that came from William Kelly, the president of The CUNY Graduate Center, and from the United Nations Intellectual History Project and our colleagues Richard Jolly and Louis Emmerij. The Graduate Center has been the home away from home for this entire undertaking.

The chapters here are totally independent examinations of the pluses and the minuses of many aspects of the world organization. Readers should keep in mind that this is a handbook on and not of the United Nations. We speak for all the contributors in saying plainly that the group as a whole consists of critical multilateralists. These are the voices of professionals who see the need for international cooperation to guarantee human survival with dignity, but no one is a card‐carrying member of the UN fan club. The editors and the authors do not speak for the United Nations. The pages of this book represent our informed thinking, no more and (we hope) no less.

To all who participated and contributed with such dedication and skill, “thanks” is really a pale reflection of our gratitude.

T.G.W and S.D.

New York and London

December 2006 (p. viii)