A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2003
Ideas and concepts are arguably the most important legacy of the United Nations. Ahead of the Curve? analyzes 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 policy ideas coming from UN organizations and scholars in relation to such critical issues as decolonization, sustainable development, structural adjustment, basic needs, human rights, women, world employment, the transition of the Eastern bloc, the role of nongovernmental organizations, 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. The authors also identify important areas where the UN has not stood constructively at the fore.
“"Carefully researched and well documented, this dissection of the UN's contributions and failures in the areas of international economic and social development is an important addition to the literature." —Choice
"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 University”
“This groundbreaking book is the first volume of a projected series by the United Nations Intellectual History Project of which the coauthors, affiliated with the CUNY Graduate Center, are codirectors. Although many institutional histories of the UN have been written, this pioneering work fills a gap in scholarship by focusing on the UN as a crucible in the world of ideas in the economic and social realms. Oftentimes eclipsed by global political events, many of these ideas have not only raised global consciousness and permeated international public policy discourse but have also inspired and precipitated important international initiatives. The book's nine chapters trace the evolution of these ideas chronologically and thematically, highlighting the UN's role as an epicenter of global discussions of such critical transnational issues as sustainable development, structural adjustment, women's rights, population growth, the environment, and global governance. Carefully researched and well documented, this dissection of the UN's contributions and failures in the areas of international economic and social development is an important addition to the literature. A must purchase for academic libraries with major UN and/or international development collections. Upper—division undergraduates and above.May 2002”
— D. Ettinger, George Washington University
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Table of Contents
Preliminary Table of Contents:
List of Boxes, Tables, and Figures
Foreword, Kofi A. Annan
List of Abbreviations
1. Four Powerful Ideas and the Early Years
2. Development Hits Its Stride
3. Employment Creation and Basic Needs
4. UN World Conferences and Global Challenges
5. Current Orthodoxy, The New Social Question, and Policy Alternatives
6. The Socialist Bloc’s Collapse
7. Widening Global Gaps
8. Governance, Good Governance, and Global Governance
9. Conclusion: The United Nations and Ideas