Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drezner's only three-quarters right about the UN

D. Drezner answers W.R. Mead's bizarre assertion that the UN is "less prestigious and influential than it was in the 1940s and 1950s," but in doing so Drezner, IMO, stumbles once or twice. First, he says, in effect, that the General Assembly was never important. I don't think that's quite right. The 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (referred to by me in this post) had a large symbolic importance and almost certainly some real-world effects, and the NIEO (New Intl. Ec. Order) declarations of the '70s also had some significance, contrary to Drezner's dismissal of them. I'm also not sure I would paint the UN's effectiveness as "entirely a function of the current state of great power politics" (emphasis added). That's a very major factor but probably not the only one. What are the other factors? Well, perceptions of the UN among electorates and in the world as a whole probably matter, too. And no doubt some other things, such as the quality of the organization's leadership and staff...

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