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Would the World Be Better Without the UN?

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Do we need the United Nations? Where would the contemporary world be without its largest intergovernmental organization? And where could it be had the UN’s member states and staff performed better?

These fundamental questions are explored by the leading analyst of UN history and politics, Thomas G. Weiss, in this hard-hitting, authoritative book. While counterfactuals are often dismissed as academic contrivances, they can serve to focus the mind; and here, Weiss uses them to ably demonstrate the pluses and minuses of multilateral cooperation. He is not shy about UN achievements and failures drawn from its ideas and operations in its three substantive pillars of activities: international peace and security; human rights and humanitarian action; and sustainable development. But, he argues, the inward-looking and populist movements in electoral politics worldwide make robust multilateralism more not less compelling. The selection of António Guterres as the ninth UN secretary-general should rekindle critical thinking about the potential for international cooperation. There is a desperate need to reinvigorate and update rather than jettison the United Nations in responding to threats from climate change to pandemics, from proliferation to terrorism. Weiss tells you why and how.

Author: Weiss Thomas
Pages: 220
ISBN: 9781509517268
Cover: Paperback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018


About the Author


Foreword, Kofi A. Annan

List of Figures and Tables

List of Abbreviations


Part One: Building Blocks

1. “Three” United Nations

2. Four UN Ailments

Part Two: The World without the UN and Its Ideas and Operations?

3. A More Violent World with Diminished International Peace and Security?

4. A More Repressive and Unkind World with Diminished Human Rights and Humanitarian Action?

5. A More Impoverished and Polluted World with Diminished Development?

Part Three: The World with a More Creative and Effective UN?

6. A Less Violent World with More International Peace and Security?

7. A Less Repressive and Unkind World with More Human Rights and Humanitarian Action?

8. A Less Impoverished and Polluted World with More Development?

9. Let’s Be SeriousÑThe UN We Want (and Need) for the World We Want



Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.

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