UN Ideas That Changed the World

UN Ideas That Changed the World

Richard Jolly, Louis Emmerij, and Thomas G. Weiss
Foreword by Kofi A. Annan
Distribution: World
Publication date: 8/12/2009
ISBN: 978-0-253-00337-9
Bookmark and Share

Available through various retailers

Other formats available:


Ideas and concepts have been a driving force in human progress, and they may be the most important legacy of the United Nations. UN ideas have set past, present, and future international agendas in many global economic and social arenas and have also led to initiatives and actions that have improved the quality of human life. This capstone volume draws upon findings of the other 14 books in the acclaimed United Nations Intellectual History Project Series. The authors not only assess the development and implementation of UN ideas regarding sustainable economic development and human security, but also apply lessons learned to suggest ways in which the United Nations can play a fuller role in confronting the challenges of human survival with dignity in the 21st century.

Author Bio

Richard Jolly is Honorary Professor and Research Associate of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

Louis Emmerij is Senior Research Fellow at The CUNY Graduate Center.

Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor of Political Science at The CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.


"I am ever more persuaded that the United Nations has a vital and inescapable role in the 21st century. The lessons since 1945, as set out in the United Nations Intellectual History Project Series, contain many insights for our common future. . . . UN ideas have been among the world organization's most important achievements. . . . This project will continue to inspire innovation and scholarship for many decades to come." —from the foreword by Kofi A. Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, 1997–2006

UN Ideas That Changed the World is an insightful and thought-provoking book. It is also a landmark work that comes at a critical moment in history. . . . UN intellectual leadership and collective imagination are more needed than ever to translate values and ideas into action for the common good." —Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil

"This vital book and the entire UN Intellectual History Project capture the path-breaking ideas that have brought about deep transformation to our world. . . . At this time when we face multiple threats to development, it is vital to reclaim and renew this legacy of the UN." —Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP

"How many divisions has the UN? This transposed version of Stalin's shortsighted question directed again the pope has been asked so often that it is time for an answer. Readers will find it in
UN Ideas That Changed the World. . . . As superbly told here, the UN's ideas—normative and descriptive, statistical and interpretive—are the heavy divisions that have given the UN the influence it has wielded for the past sixty years." —Michael W. Doyle, Columbia University and former UN Assistant Secretary-General

UN Ideas That Changed the World captures a 'lost' history—the UN's extraordinary contribution to economic and social ideas and action in the modern world. Jolly, Emmerij, and Weiss . . . argue that the UN's contribution will be indispensable in the future, and they are right." —Mark Malloch-Brown, UK Minister for Africa, Asia, and the UN and former UN Deputy Secretary-General

"As the book makes clear, the UN is important as a site—or as a sort of ecological environment—for not just the exercise of power but also the exercise of imagination." —
Foreign Affairs

"A telling account of ideas in action." —The New York Review of Books

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
List of Figures and Boxes
Foreword by [TBA]
I. UNIHP at a Glance
1. Overview
2. "Three UNs" and Their Impact
II. United Nations Ideas that Shaped the World
3. Human Rights: From Aspiration to Implementation
4. Gender and Women's Rights: From Empowerment to Equality
5. Development Policies: From National and Regional Perspectives to Beyond
6. International Economic Relations: From National Interests to Global Solidarity
7. Development Ideologies: From Planning to Markets
8. Social Development: From Sectoral to Integrated Perspectives
9. Sustainability: From Protecting the Environment to Preserving Ecological Systems
10. Peace and Human Security: From States to Individuals
11. Human Development: From Narrower to Broader Horizons
III. A Future for the UN and the Planet
12. A Balance Sheet
13. Challenges Ahead
14. Strengthening Global Governance
About the Authors