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United Nations Intellectual History Project Series

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United Nations Intellectual History Project Series

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Ahead of the Curve?

UN Ideas and Global Challenges

Louis Emmerij, Richard Jolly, and Thomas G. Weiss. Foreword by Kofi A. Annan

Ideas and concepts are arguably the most important legacy of the United Nations. Ahead of the Curve? analyzes the evolution of key ideas and concepts about international economic and social development born or nurtured, refined or applied under UN auspices since 1945. The authors evaluate the policy ideas coming from UN organizations and scholars in relation to such critical issues as decolonization, sustainable development, structural adjustment, basic needs, human rights, women, world employment, the transition of the Eastern bloc, the role of nongovernmental organizations, and global governance.

The authors find that, in many instances, UN ideas about how to tackle problems of global import were sound and far-sighted, although they often fell on the deaf ears of powerful member states until it was apparent that a different approach was needed. The authors also identify important areas where the UN has not stood constructively at the fore.

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Development without Destruction

The UN and Global Resource Management

Nico Schrijver. Forewords by James Crawford and Supachai Panitchpakdi

Since 1945, the UN has been actively engaged in conceptualizing strategies for both economic development and a sustainable environment. From a broad historical perspective, Development without Destruction sketches the role played by organizations and individuals in the UN system in developing and consolidating principles of international law and international governance with respect to natural resource management. Nico Schrijver highlights the UN's efforts to generate and implement strategies to resolve tensions between economic development and environmental protection, conservation and exploitation, sovereignty and internationalism, and armed conflict and peaceful access to natural resources. Schrijver's thorough analysis is an indispensable guide to management of the critical environmental issues on today's global agenda.

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Global Governance and the UN

An Unfinished Journey

Foreword by John Gerard Ruggie. Thomas G. Weiss and Ramesh Thakur

In the 21st century, the world is faced with threats of global scale that cannot be confronted without collective action. Although global government as such does not exist, formal and informal institutions, practices, and initiatives -- together forming "global governance" -- bring a greater measure of predictability, stability, and order to trans-border issues than might be expected. Yet, there are significant gaps between many current global problems and available solutions. Thomas G. Weiss and Ramesh Thakur analyze the UN's role in addressing such knowledge, normative, policy, institutional, and compliance lapses. The UN's relationship to these five global governance gaps is explored through case studies of some of the most burning problems of our age, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, humanitarian crises, development aid, climate change, human rights, and HIV/AIDS.

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Human Rights at the UN

The Political History of Universal Justice

Roger Normand and Sarah Zaidi. Foreword by Richard A. Falk

Human rights activists Roger Normand and Sarah Zaidi provide a broad political history of the emergence and development of the human rights movement in the 20th century through the crucible of the United Nations, focusing on the hopes and expectations, concrete power struggles, national rivalries, and bureaucratic politics that molded the international system of human rights law. The book emphasizes the period before and after the creation of the UN, when human rights ideas and proposals were shaped and transformed by the hard-edged realities of power politics and bureaucratic imperatives. It also analyzes the expansion of the human rights framework in response to demands for equitable development after decolonization and organized efforts by women, minorities, and other disadvantaged groups to secure international recognition of their rights.

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Human Security and the UN

A Critical History

S. Neil MacFarlane and Yuen Foong Khong

How did the individual human being become the focus of the contemporary discourse on security? What was the role of the United Nations in "securing" the individual? What are the payoffs and costs of this extension of the concept? Neil MacFarlane and Yuen Foong Khong tackle these questions by analyzing historical and contemporary debates about what is to be secured. From Westphalia through the 19th century, the state's claim to be the object of security was sustainable because it offered its subjects some measure of protection. The state's ability to provide security for its citizens came under heavy strain in the 20th century as a result of technological, strategic, and ideological innovations. By the end of World War II, efforts to reclaim the security rights of individuals gathered pace, as seen in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a host of United Nations covenants and conventions. MacFarlane and Khong highlight the UN's work in promoting human security ideas since the 1940s, giving special emphasis to its role in extending the notion of security to include development, economic, environmental, and other issues in the 1990s.

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Preventive Diplomacy at the UN

Bertrand G. Ramcharan. Foreword by Leon Gordenker

The concept of preventive diplomacy has captivated the United Nations since it was first articulated by Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld a half-century ago. Successive generations of diplomats and statesmen have invested in the idea that diplomatic efforts might be able to head off international conflicts and disasters. Dramatic successes, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, contrast with dramatic failures, such as the inability of UN efforts to halt the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In this careful study, distinguished former UN civil servant Bertrand G. Ramcharan traces the history of the practice of preventive diplomacy by UN Secretaries-General, the Security Council, and other UN organizations, and assesses the record of preventive diplomacy and examines its prospects in an age of genocide and terrorism.

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Quantifying the World

UN Ideas and Statistics

Michael Ward

Good data, Michael Ward argues, serve to enhance a perception about life as well as to deepen an understanding of reality. This history of the UN's role in fostering international statistics in the postwar period demonstrates how statistics have shaped our understanding of the world. Drawing on well over 40 years of experience working as a statistician and economist in more than two dozen countries around the world, Ward traces the evolution of statistical ideas and how they have responded to the needs of policy while unraveling the question of why certain data were considered important and why other data and concerns were not. The book explores the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of the UN's statistical work and how each dimension has provided opportunities for describing the well-being of the world community. Quantifying the World also reveals some of the missed opportunities for pursuing alternative models.

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The UN and Development

From Aid to Cooperation

Olav Stokke

The UN and Development provides the first comprehensive overview of the development policies and activities of the United Nations system from the late 1940s to the present. With an explicit focus on the history of the ideas that have been generated, institutionalized, and implemented by UN organizations, this book examines changing trends in development paradigms from the concept of technical assistance to underdeveloped countries, as they were called in the late 1940s, to development cooperation in the 21st century. Olav Stokke traces this fascinating story and demonstrates the UN's essential role and its future challenges in aiding the least developed countries and the globe's billion poorest inhabitants.

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The UN and Global Political Economy

Trade, Finance, and Development

John Toye and Richard Toye

Against the backdrop of a 20-year revolt against free trade orthodoxy by economists inside the UN and their impact on policy discussions since the 1960s, the authors show how the UN both nurtured and inhibited creative and novel intellectual contributions to the trade and development debate. Presenting a stirring account of the main UN actors in this debate, The UN and Global Political Economy focuses on the accomplishments and struggles of UN economists and the role played by such UN agencies as the Department of Economic (and Social) Affairs, the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development, and the Economic Commission for Latin America (and the Caribbean). It also looks closely at the effects of the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, the growing strength of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the 1990s, and the lessons to be drawn from these and other recent developments.

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The UN and Transnational Corporations

From Code of Conduct to Global Compact

Tagi Sagafi-nejad in collaboration with John H. Dunning. Foreword by Howard V. Perlmutter

Are transnational corporations (TNCs) and foreign direct investment beneficial or harmful to societies around the world? Since the birth of the United Nations more than 60 years ago, these questions have been major issues of interest and involvement for UN institutions. What have been the key ideas generated by the UN about TNCs and their relations with nation-states? How have these ideas evolved and what has been their impact? This book examines the history of UN engagement with TNCs, including the creation of the UN Commission and Centre on Transnational Corporations in 1974, the failed efforts of these bodies to craft a code of conduct to temper the revealed abuses of TNCs, and, with the advent of globalization in the 1980s, the evolution of a more cooperative relationship between TNCs and developing countries, resulting in the 1999 Global Compact.

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