Would the World Be Better Without the UN?
Would the World Be Better Without the UN?
Do we need the United Nations?  Where would the contemporary world be without its largest intergovernmental organization? And where could it be had the UN’s member states and staff performed better?

These fundamental questions are explored by the leading analyst of UN history and politics, Thomas G. Weiss, in this hard-hitting, authoritative book. While counterfactuals are often dismissed as academic contrivances, they can serve to focus the mind; and here, Weiss uses them to ably demonstrate the pluses and minuses of multilateral cooperation.  He is not shy about UN achievements and failures drawn from its ideas and operations in its three substantive pillars of activities: international peace and security; human rights and humanitarian action; and sustainable development.  But, he argues, the inward-looking and populist movements in electoral politics worldwide make robust multilateralism more not less compelling.  The selection of António Guterres as the ninth UN secretary-general should rekindle critical thinking about the potential for international cooperation. There is a desperate need to reinvigorate and update rather than jettison the United Nations in responding to threats from climate change to pandemics, from proliferation to terrorism. Weiss tells you why and how.
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  • February 2018
  • 240 pages
  • 158 x 227 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $72.75
  • 9781509517251
  • Paperback $26.00
  • 9781509517268
Table of Contents
  • Contents
  • About the Author
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword, Kofi A. Annan
  • List of Figures and Tables
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Part One: Building Blocks
  • 1. “Three” United Nations
  • 2. Four UN Ailments
  • Part Two: The World without the UN and Its Ideas and Operations?
  • 3. A More Violent World with Diminished International Peace and Security?
  • 4. A More Repressive and Unkind World with Diminished Human Rights and Humanitarian Action?
  • 5. A More Impoverished and Polluted World with Diminished Development?
  • Part Three: The World with a More Creative and Effective UN?
  • 6. A Less Violent World with More International Peace and Security?
  • 7. A Less Repressive and Unkind World with More Human Rights and Humanitarian Action?
  • 8. A Less Impoverished and Polluted World with More Development?
  • 9. Let’s Be SeriousÑThe UN We Want (and Need) for the World We Want
  • Notes
  • Index
About the Author
Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.
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"I salute this book because it helps us to understand the crucial importance of the UN in tackling the considerable challenges facing the world today. Tom Weiss has engagingly and honestly asked a very tough question - Would the World Be Better without the UN? His negative reply is an indispensable guide for anyone worried about the future of the planet and of the UN."
Kofi A. Annan, former UN Secretary-General

"If you can only read one book on the UN, this is it: Why the UN matters, what it needs to do better, and what we need to do to make that happen."
Craig Murphy, Wellesley College and University of Massachusetts
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