The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations

The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0375703411

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Parliament of Man is the first definitive history of the United Nations, from one of America's greatest living historians.Distinguished scholar Paul Kennedy, author of the bestselling The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, gives us a thorough and timely account that explains the UN's roots and functions while also casting an objective eye on its effectiveness and its prospects for success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead. Kennedy shows the UN for what it is: fallible, human-based, often dependent on the whims of powerful national governments or the foibles of individual administrators—yet also utterly indispensable. With his insightful grasp of six decades of global history, Kennedy convincingly argues that "it is difficult to imagine how much more riven and ruinous our world of six billion people would be if there had been no UN."

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regionally based, as well as regular two-year memberships. This clearly is an attempt to square the circle or several circles: Avoid angering the P5, respond to the demands that the Council should be bigger overall, and give some regional powers a special place, thus creating a three-tiered Security Council membership. Desperate to get at least some changes, a majority of the General Assembly may, in the future, vote in favor of something like this; and the P5, their privileges preserved, may not

Mixed properly, as they were between 1942 and 1945, they can work wonders. Thus, Gladstone was right, both for his time and for ours. The story of the past sixty years has not been one of unremitting setback and failure for the world body that we own. The United Nations organization is not like the great boulder that Sisyphus tried to roll uphill, only to have it repeatedly fall back to the bottom; it has sometimes slipped, but only for a while. When all its aspects are considered, the UN has

Election-Monitoring,” in Roberts and Kingsbury (eds.), United Nations, Divided World; and J. Boulden’s splendid work, Peace Enforcement: The United Nations Experience in Congo, Somalia and Bosnia (Westport, Conn., 2001). I also found very useful the comments provided in two works of an extremely different political provenance: F. H. Fleitz, Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests (Westport, Conn., 2002); and T. Barry with E. Leaver, The Next Fifty Years: The

should normally be taken by the disputing parties to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. If the contenders fail to agree, the Council can make its own recommendations in order to achieve “a pacific settlement of the dispute.” This is precisely where Chapter VI ends. The reader, plus all those governments that sign the Charter and pledge to fulfill its terms, are being walked up the garden path. It is all very logical. It is based upon the supposition that “the parties in dispute”

felt that they had too much on their plate already without becoming embroiled in Continental Europe’s myriad problems. Britain’s electorate had recoiled, massively, against any idea of a Continental commitment to France and pushed for social and economic improvements at home rather than strong armed forces. The dominions were straining for greater independence. India, Egypt, and much of the Middle East were full of unrest. The British economy was dislocated, a nineteenth-century creation in a

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