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1 Introduction • The North-South Encounter and the United Nations • The Paradox of Protectionism in the UN Secretariat • International Public Organizations as Intellectual Actors • The North-South Encounter in Outline • The Contribution of This Volume • Methodology and Sources The North-South Encounter and the United Nations After the SecondWorldWar,the new United Nations organization was the bearer of extravagant, even utopian, hopes for the development and maintenance of an international order that would safeguard the peoples of the world from the recurrence of the extraordinary destruction that they had just suffered . In the founding vision of faith and optimism, economic and social security was accorded an importance at least as great as, if not greater than, political and military security. The rationale for this was the acute collective consciousness of the economic disaster of the Great Depression of the s and the political opportunity that it provided for the forces of fascism and militarism to gain control over large populations in Europe and Asia. As long as this consciousness remained strong, so did the will of the member nations to cooperate in the reconstruction of the international economic order inside the framework the UN provided. This order was intended to encompass and benefit both the developed industrial countries and what were then referred to as the underdeveloped countries. However, this early period was cut short. As relations between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorated and each marked out the boundaries of their respective spheres of influence, Cold War attitudes suffused the whole international diplomatic climate. The solidarity of the great powers who were to lead the UN organization very quickly evaporated. 2 The UN and Global Political Economy Meanwhile, the intended parity of esteem within the UN between economic and military security concerns swiftly eroded. Diplomatic and military crises that potentially could have had nuclear consequences took center stage. The Security Council became the UN organ on which world attention focused, while the new Economic and Social Council became a cipher. Both councils were paralyzed by distrust and dispute and delivered little but stalemate , stagnation, and disappointment. The UN Secretary-General became wholly absorbed in the unenviable task of trying to mediate between two inflexible superpowers and was not able even to protect his own staff from the repercussions of that conflict. Between  and , the United States was able to maintain overall political control of the UN through the steady two-thirds majority it could command in the General Assembly.1 As the geopolitical situation stabilized after the death of Stalin in , circumstances began to enhance the authority and legitimacy of the UN as a genuine world forum. The accelerating process of decolonization played a critical part in this. The number of countries that were members of the UN swelled as more and more underdeveloped countries, free from the restraints of colonialism, joined the organization. The UN thus developed from a Western-dominated agency into a more truly global entity. For the United States, the accession of ex-colonial underdeveloped countries to the world body meant a gradual dilution of its ability to control and manage the organization. After , the U.S. could no longer rely on being able to muster a simple majority. The newly admitted countries, which refused to align themselves with either of the two superpowers, came to hold the balance of power in the General Assembly. For these recent ex-colonies, membership in the UN was both a symbol of and a guarantee for their newfound independence. They looked to the Secretary-General to support their rights and liberties through the UN, thereby enhancing his political role and making him less purely dependent on American guidance. Dag Hammarskjöld’s intervention in the Congo in – was the major manifestation of this new UN politics. After Hammarskjöld’s death in , a typical Cold War struggle ensued between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over his successor, ending with the appointment of the first non-European UN Secretary General. U Thant was a Buddhist and socialist from Burma who had experienced colonialism at first hand and who saw the major division of the world as that between rich and poor countries rather than between capitalism and communism. He embodied a new “Third World” perspective that identified economic development as a central concern of the UN system. The term “Third World,” popular in Introduction 3 the s as a collective phrase for underdeveloped countries, linked the state of underdevelopment negatively with the East-West Cold...