What's Wrong With the United Nations and How to Fix it (Polity What's Wrong Series)

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9780745642987: What's Wrong With the United Nations and How to Fix it (Polity What's Wrong Series)

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

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

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

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About the Author:

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

Review:

"By far the most readable and imaginative recent book I have seen on what can easily be a dull subject. Weiss writes with insight and humor, and is undeterred by current taboos."
New York Review of Books

"Unafraid to diagnose and excoriate myriad flaws, he offers an unflinching analysis which simultaneously exudes a palpable passion for the organisation and a belief in both its capacity to change and its potential efficacy. Both his diagnosis and his prescriptions are compelling."
Millennium: Journal of International Studies

"Weiss, as a long standing observer of the politics of the UN, is in a formidable position to cast a critical eye over the problems facing the contemporary operation of the UN and offer some practical suggestions as to how these problems can be overcome."
Australian Journal of Political Science

"A well argued and clearly written work that deserves to be widely read, especially in an era when trust and support for the UN remain quite low."
International Affairs

"Very few actually know how the (UN) system works, how profound its crisis is, and what fundamental change is needed. Among those who do know is Thomas G. Weiss."
Ethics and International Affairs

"A comprehensive and extremely thoughtful analysis by the leading scholar of the UN in the United States, this should be required reading for the new US president, and the leaders of other nations as well."
Craig Murphy, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Wellesley College

"By any standard, this is a work of unusual ambition, scope, and insight. Only Tom Weiss, one of the UN's most prolific and experienced observers, could so adroitly capture the world body's perils and promise with such a winning combination of clarity, rigor, and wisdom."
Edward Luck, Columbia University

"This is a very timely book, given the broad spectrum of growing difficulties facing the international system and the United Nations. It provides an analytically powerful and empirically rich account of a UN in crisis, followed by a range of sensible suggestions to place the world organization on a more sound footing in its address of deepening challenges. It speaks to issues of profound scholarly and policy relevance in a way that is eminently accessible to a wide range of readers."
Neil MacFarlane, St Anne’s College, Oxford

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Weiss, Thomas G.
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