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

by Paul Kennedy

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Paul Kennedy has provided a review of the success of the United Nations in various areas (peacekeeping, social and economic issues, human rights) and has discussed ways to ensure the UN remains relevant and effective.

All in all, the UN's "report card" shows a mixture of successes and disappointments, but Mr. Kennedy concludes that the world is better off for having created it. As the nature of challenges facing the world change (e.g., intra-state conflicts and global terrorism vs. nation-to-nation war), the UN may have to evolve some of its structures and decision-making processes in response. Change will be difficult given the multiple interests involved, and will likely have to be incremental. But, it will be worth the effort.

This is a great overview of the UN's many roles, its history and its structures for anyone interested in global politics. ( )
  LynnB | Jan 26, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375501657, Hardcover)

“With all its defects, with all the failures that we can check up against it, the UN still represents man’s best-organized hope to substitute the conference table for the battlefield.”
–Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

The signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945 was an unprecedented development in the history of humankind. For the first time, the world’s most powerful sovereign nation states came together to create an autonomous organization designed to, in the Charter’s words, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war [and] reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.” Sixty years later, the UN still doggedly pursues that mandate, albeit not without difficulty and certainly not without criticism.

In The Parliament of Man, the distinguished scholar Paul Kennedy gives a thorough and timely history of the United Nations that explains the institution’s roots and functions while also casting an objective eye on the UN’s effectiveness as a body and on its prospects for success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead.

Building on expertise he gained in drafting official reports for the UN’s fiftieth anniversary on how to improve the organization’s performance, Kennedy makes sense of the many commissions and committees, and how its six main operating bodies–General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council (UNESCO), Trusteeship Council, Secretariat, and International Court–operate and interact. Citing examples from the UN’s history, he shows how the five permanent members of the Security Council–the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France–on numerous occasions overcame political antagonisms to spearhead military supervision of aid in humanitarian crises, and how lack of cooperation among the great powers has hamstrung such initiatives as the control of greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbated the deleterious effects of globalization on developing nations’ economies.

As a body, the UN emerges here for what it is: fallible, human-based, oftentimes dependent on the whims of powerful national governments or the foibles of individual senior UN administrators, but utterly indispensable. In The Parliament of Man, Kennedy ably proves 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 social, environmental, and cultural agendas–and no institutions to attempt to put them into practice on the ground.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:59 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Scholar Kennedy gives a thorough history of the United Nations that explains the institution's roots and functions while also casting an eye on the UN's effectiveness as a body and on its prospects for success in meeting coming challenges. He makes sense of the commissions and committees, and how the six main operating bodies operate and interact. Citing examples from history, he shows how the five permanent members of the Security Council on numerous occasions overcame political antagonisms to spearhead military supervision of aid in humanitarian crises, and how lack of cooperation among the great powers has hamstrung such initiatives as the control of greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbated the deleterious effects of globalization on developing nations' economies. As a body, the UN emerges here for what it is: fallible, human-based, oftentimes dependent on the whims of powerful nations or the foibles of individual senior administrators, but utterly indispensable.--From publisher description.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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