Ahead of the Curve?

Ahead of the Curve? : UN Ideas and Global Challenges

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A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2003 Foreword by Kofi. A. Annan Ideas and concepts are arguably the most important legacy of the United Nations. Ahead of the Curve? analyses the evolution of key ideas and concepts about international economic and social development born or nurtured, refined or applied under UN auspices since 1945. The authors evaluate the trajectory of policy ideas coming from UN organisations and associated scholars in relation to such critical issues as de-colonisation, sustainable development, structural adjustment, basic needs, human rights, women, world employment, the transition in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the role of non-governmental organisations, and global governance. The authors find that, in many instances, UN ideas about how to tackle problems of global import were sound and far-sighted, although they often fell on the deaf ears of powerful member states until it was apparent that a different approach was needed. UN conferences, for example, provided the first forums for addressing issues that rather belatedly became global concerns, such as gender equality, population policies, environmental problems, social questions, and urban management. Moreover, these conferences have resulted in concrete actions and the achievement of important goals. Better late than never, the United Nations demonstrated the severe limitations of neo-liberal economic orthodoxy promoted by the Bretton Woods institutions. Only recently have these institutions begun to re-evaluate their approach to consider the importance of putting people first. The UN was also at the forefront in acknowledging the importance of non-governmental organisations for good global governance. The UN has benefited from their expertise and enlisted their support in implementing policy ideas, a course of action that has resulted in the growing acknowledgement of the importance of civil society. The authors do find important areas where the UN has not stood constructively at the fore. They lament, for example, the UN's hesitations in a global response to the AIDs pandemic and tardiness in pointing out the human costs and growing income gaps associated with economic liberalisation and globalisation.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 280 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 15.24mm | 204.12g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 025321467X
  • 9780253214676

About Louis Emmerij

Louis Emmerij is Senior Research Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he is co-director of the United Nations Intellectual History Project. Until 1999 he was special adviser to the president of the Inter-American Development Bank. Before that he had a distinguished career as president of the OECD Development Centre, rector of the Institute for Social Studies in The Hague, and director of the ILO s World Employment Programme. Among his recent books are: Economic and Social Development into the 21st Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), editor; Limits to Competition (MIT Press, 1995), co-author; Nord-Sud: La Grenade Degoupilee (First, 1992); Financial Flows to Latin America (OECD, 1991), co-editor; Science, Technology and Science Education in the Development of the South (Trieste, 1989); One World or Several? (Paris, 1989), editor; and Development Policies and the Crisis of the 1980s (OECD, 1987).Richard Jolly is Senior Research Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center where he is co-director of the United Nations Intellectual History Project and Professor Emeritus at the University of Sussex. Until mid-200 he was special adviser to the UNDP administrator and architect of the widely-acclaimed Human Development Report. Before this, he served for fourteen years as UNICEF s deputy executive director for programmes, and prior to that a decade as the director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. Publications to which he has contributed include: Development with a Human Face (1998); The UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions: New Challenges for the Twenty-First Century (MacMillan, 1995) Adjustment with a Human Face (Clarendon Press, 1987); Disarmament and World Development (1984); and Planning Education for African Development (1969).Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor at The CUNY Graduate Center, where he is co-director of the United Nations Intellectual History Project and editor of Global Governance. From 1990 to 1998 as a Research Professor at Brown University s Watson Institute for International Studies, he held a number of administrative assignments (Director of the Global Security Program, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Associate Director), served as the Executive Director of the Academic Council on the UN system, and co-directed the Humanitarianism and War Project. He has also been executive director of the International Peace Academy, a member of the UN secretariat, and a consultant to several public and private agencies. His latest books are Military-Civilian Interactions: Intervening in Humanitarian Crises (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999); Humanitarian Challenges and Intervention (Westview, 2000), 2nd edition with Cindy Collins; and The United Nations and Changing World Politics (Westview, 2001), 3rd edition with Roger A. Coate and David P. Forsythe."show more

Review quote

"With the publication of this first volume in the United Nations Intellectual History Project, a significant lacuna in 20th-century scholarship and international relations begins to be filled." - Kofi A. Annan, UN Secretary-General "A provocative reminder of the major role of the United Nations in global social and economic affairs in the postwar period; and a tantalizing taste of what is still to come in a major intellectual effort better to understand the UN's past and potential future role." - Prof. Gerald K. Helleiner, University of Toronto "This book as well as the whole project have the great value of raising questions about the easy, conservative realist approach that dominates diplomacy. I wish that I had had it when I was teaching courses on international organization." - Prof. Leon Gordenker, Princeton Universityshow more

Table of contents

Introduction; Four Powerful Ideas and the Early Years; Development Hits Its Stride; Employment Creation and Basic Needs; UN World Conferences and Global Challenges; Current Orthodoxy, The New Social Question, and Policy Alternatives; The Socialist Bloc's Collapse; Widening Global Gaps; Governance, Good Governance, and Global Governance; Conclusion - The United Nations and Ideasshow more

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