The UN at 60: on the 60th anniversary of its creation, Sir Richard Jolly reviews the chequered history of the world's foremost intergovernmental body.
This year the United Nations reaches 60. Although it has been under fire from critics for much of its life, the UN's record is much better than many realize. A recent independent report from the Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (see www.un.org) commented, 'The UN has been much more effective in addressing the major threats to peace and security than it is given credit for.... While there have been major failings and shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.
Shortcomings may also be:
The same can be said of the UN's contributions in the field of economic and social development--pioneering in the areas of economic strategy and statistics, sustainable development Sustainable development is a socio-ecological process characterized by the fulfilment of human needs while maintaining the quality of the natural environment indefinitely. The linkage between environment and development was globally recognized in 1980, when the International Union , human rights, and notably the rights of women and of children.
Often the UN's work has involved leading thinkers of the time. Ten Nobel prize winners Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
1969 Ragnar Frisch Jan Tinbergen
1970 Paul A. Samuelson
1971 Simon Kuznets
1972 Sir John R. Hicks Kenneth J. in economics worked closely with the UN--either as staff (for instance, Arthur Lewis Arthur Lewis may refer to:
Tinbergen , notable for expressing his disappointment at winning the prize for economics--he said he had hoped to win the peace prize!)
Four principles underlay the UN Charter and its work when it was established in 1945:
* Peace and negotiation under law, in place of war and national aggression
* Sovereign independence for the many countries under colonial rule
* Economic and social development to raise living standards living standards npl → nivel msg de vida
living standards living npl → niveau m de vie
living standards living npl worldwide
* Universal human rights boldest of all.
These principles grew out of the ashes of World War II. They represented not only a new vision of international cooperation for peace but also of global justice and economic cooperation to avoid repeating the mass unemployment and suffering of the Great Depression.
Yet despite this impressive vision, there was also a good deal of humbug, at least from the governments. The three major powers leading the effort--the US, the UK and the Soviet Union--each overlooked major contradictions with the principles in their own countries. The US had racist laws denying civil rights; the UK had its colonies and no intention of granting immediate independence; the Soviets, their gulags. But all three signed, along with 47 other countries--setting in motion a process of impressive change, far beyond what most contemporary observers expected.
Within a few years, India and Pakistan were independent, and the process was accelerating in Africa and elsewhere. By 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was adopted without dissent but with eight abstentions. had been drafted and adopted. And over 1949-51, three major reports on economic and social development laid out strategy for accelerated advance.
All this was a truly remarkable beginning. What explains this progress? The importance of committed and organized individuals and non-governmental groups emerges clearly from the record. The fact that the Charter refers 12 times to 'men and women', not just to people, is due to skilful skil·ful
adj. Chiefly British
Variant of skillful.
skilful or US skillful
having or showing skill
skilfully or US
lobbying by the four female delegates--out of the 160 at the founding conference.
On human rights, Christian Churches and the American Jewish Committee
Every decade since the 1940s has recorded further important UN advances, notwithstanding the long political stalemate of the Cold War. In many respects, more progress was made in the economic and social arena than in political matters. In 1961, for instance, President Kennedy launched the Development Decade, to accelerate economic advance in developing countries with a commitment to aid and private investment from the developed countries. This commitment became the 0.7 per cent target for development assistance, which still stands today.
Ten years later came the first round of global conferences, including: Environment and Development (1972); Population, and World Food (1974); and Science and Technology for Development (1979). Of special significance was the first World Conference on Women (1975), chaired by a man at the insistence of Mexico, but leading in 1979 to adoption of CEDAW CEDAW Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (United Nations)
CEDAW Component Explosives Damage Assessment Workbook (reference for blast effects software modeling) , the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Less successful were the Special Sessions on the New International Economic Order, which attempted to explore how international trade, finance and debt relations could be fundamentally changed to enable poorer countries to receive a greater and fairer share of the benefits. Fundamental change was not, however, acceptable to the richer countries.
With hindsight, most of these conferences played a major role in changing global awareness, mobilizing supporters and setting new policy challenges. True, implementation has generally been slower than needed. Many of the conferences were repeated in the 1990s, to evaluate progress and mobilize further advance--most notably the World Conference on Human Rights (1993), which created the new post and Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights.
In 2000 came the climax--the Millennium Summit The Millennium Summit was a meeting among many world leaders lasting three days from 6 September to 8 September 2000 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. . This was the largest ever assembly of heads of state and government--147 presidents and prime ministers, with senior representatives from 32 other governments.
The summit agreed a Millennium Declaration--a progressive, wide-ranging document, covering issues from poverty and sustainable development to security, governance and globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation , with actions to establish a more effective UN.
The Summit's focus on poverty reduction was highly operational: it agreed eight Millennium Development Goals “MDG” redirects here. For other uses, see MDG (disambiguation).
The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that 192 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. with 18 quantified targets. These are focused on halving the proportion of people in the world in poverty and hunger by 2015, and, in parallel, moving towards supportive goals on education, maternal and child mortality, the provision of water and sanitation, HIV/ AIDS and environmental sustainability.
The last five years have seen real progress towards these goals. Broadly, about one third of the goals score as 'completed or on track'; one third 'making some progress but too slow'; a final third 'no progress or going backwards'. The best performing countries are in Asia--China and South East Asia East Asia
A region of Asia coextensive with the Far East.
East Asian adj. & n. , especially--with Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. , the former Soviet countries and Arab states making more mixed, often much slower, progress. Of most concern is sub-Saharan Africa, which for most of the goals records 'no progress' and often 'going backwards'.
A new summit has been called for this September. The key questions will be how to accelerate progress in the countries lagging behind and how to build on successes in the others. A second challenge will be how to mobilize resources and political will to resolve conflicts, particularly in Africa. The world needs the vision to realize that conflict in any individual country today will affect many others.
Finally, the UN itself needs to be strengthened, with resources, but also with a revival of that early commitment to internationalism in·ter·na·tion·al·ism
1. The condition or quality of being international in character, principles, concern, or attitude.
2. A policy or practice of cooperation among nations, especially in politics and economic matters. , backed up by a renewal of support from people in every country. To this end, the Secretary General has issued his own report, In Larger Freedom (United Nations, 2005). This sets out priority actions to strengthen the UN's work towards freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity. This builds on the vision and commitment with which the UN started out: a vision which today's world desperately needs to regain.
Sir Richard Jolly was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UNICEF (y`nĭsĕf'), the United Nations Children's Fund, an affiliated agency of the United Nations. from 1982-96 and Special Coordinator of UNDP's Human Development Report from 1996-2000. He is currently Honorary Chair of the UN Association of the United Kingdom and Co Director of the UN Intellectual History Project.