Thomas G. Weiss, Whats Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix it (Polity, 2008)

Six decades after its establishment, the United Nations and its system of related agencies and programs is perpetually in crisis. While World War I and World War II gave rise to ground-breaking efforts at international organization in 1919 and 1945, the UN today seems ill-equipped to deal with modern challenges to world order. Neither the end of the Cold War nor the aftermath of 9/11 has led to the creation of a “next generation” of multilateral institutions.
But what exactly is wrong with the UN, and how can we fix it? Is it possible to retrofit the world body? In this succinct and illuminating analysis, Thomas G. Weiss takes a diagnosis and cure approach to the world organization’s inherent difficulties. In the first half of the book, he considers: the problems of international leadership and decision making in a world of self-interested states; the diplomatic difficulties caused by the artificial divisions between the industrialized North and the global South; the structural problems of managing the UN’s many overlapping jurisdictions, agencies, and bodies; and the ever-demanding challenges of bureaucracy and leadership. The second half examines how to mitigate these maladies and points the way to a more ideal world in which the UN’s institutional ills might be “cured.” His remedies are not based on pious hopes of a miracle cure for the UN, but rather on specific and encouraging examples that could be replicated. With considered optimism and in contrast to received wisdom, Weiss contends that substantial change in intergovernmental institutions is plausible and possible.

This indispensable book will spark debate amongst students, scholars, and policy-makers concerned with international politics, as well as anyone genuinely interested in the future of the United Nations and international cooperation.

About the Author
Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor of Political Science at The CUNY Graduate Center and Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, where he is co-director of Wartime History and the Future UN and of the Future UN Development System. 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow and past president of the International Studies Association and recipient of its “2016 Distinguished IO Scholar Award,” he has served ACUNS in a number of capacities: executive director, editor of Global Governance, and chair of the Board. He was also Research Director of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Research Professor at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, Executive Director of the International Peace Academy, a member of the UN secretariat, and a consultant to several public and private agencies. He has authored or edited over 50 books and written 250 articles and book chapters about international peace and security, humanitarian action, and sustainable development.