The United Nations

William Keylor

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
The United Nations


The United Nations (UN) organization that was created at the end of World War II was the product of a firm commitment by the victorious powers in that conflict to establish an international mechanism for the prevention of another deadly and destructive world war. The founders of the UN were intent on learning from the flaws and missteps of its predecessor, the League of Nations, which had been established at the end of World War I but failed to prevent the outbreak of another global conflict. Since the UN’s inception, scholars have subjected the charter, procedures, and policies of the international organization to a searching examination. All agree that the UN has failed to live up to the lavishly optimistic expectations of its founders. But there is substantial scholarly disagreement about the effectiveness of the organization as well as the policies that it has pursued and programs it has initiated in response to a succession of global crises. The literature addressing the subject of the UN is vast: it comprises general works aimed at the educated public that assess the organization’s record of achievement, highly technical analyses of the operation and outcome of specific UN programs and initiatives, and scholarly studies that analyze functional aspects such as voting patterns in the Security Council and the General Assembly. The UN itself issues a wide range of reports on its activities in order to disseminate information about the work that it does across the globe. Nongovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations Association in the United States, actively promote the UN cause by calling attention to its successes. Critics of the organization have published exposés of its flaws and failures. Undergraduates and graduate students should be aware of the controversial nature of some of the scholarship on this subject.

Article.  5345 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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