Sunday, February 18, 2007

A good article on the United Nations system

Read "Is the UN Doomed?" by Tony Judt in The New York Review of Books (Volume 54, Number 2 · February 15, 2007). Subscription or online payment is required to read this.

Bob Maybury alerted me to this review of three recent books about the United Nations.

"There are actually many UNs of which the military and political branches (General Assembly, Security Council, Peacekeeping Operations) are only the best known." UNESCO is the first of several that Judt names.

"Much of the work done by these units is routine. And the "soft tasks" of the UN- addressing health and environmental problems, assisting women and children in crisis, educating farmers, training teachers, providing small loans, monitoring rights abuse -- are sometimes performed just as well by national or nongovernmental agencies, though in most cases only at UN prompting or in the wake of a UN sponsored initiative."

Judt may underestimate the global importance of UNESCO's leadership in providing the vision for "Education for All", or the catalytic role of UNESCO in focusing the world's attention on the preservation of world heritage sites.

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