Although rooted in noble aims, the United Nations has a long history of failing to solve the world's most critical problems—such as war, terrorism, genocide, poverty and pandemics. Despite this poor track record, the U.N. has managed to increase its budgets and expand its mandate and activities into new areas in which it has little expertise. Billions of hard-earned American tax dollars are invested in the U.N each year, but U.S. efforts to improve the effectiveness of the organization seemingly have little effect. This book discusses the many weaknesses and failings of the current U.N. system and offers practical solutions for reform. The group of U.N. experts gathered here discuss a range of issues addressed by the U.N., including peace and security, international law, human rights, economic development, and transnational concerns like health and the environment. They suggest ways to improve efforts to work within the U.N. framework to address critical international problems and ways to work outside of it when the U.N. proves to be a poor vehicle. In some cases, they propose alternative multilateral efforts to address problems for which the U.N. is uniquely unsuited. Published in cooperations wtih the Heritage Foundation.
Kim Holmes makes a striking contribution....One theme that unites the volume is the need for the United States to work more closely with other democracies inside and outside the UN to isolate despotic states while giving greater voice to the American values of markets and freedom.
Richard S. Williamson
The United States has a large foreign policy tool box. The U.N. is just one implement. But there are times the U.N. can be very useful. Therefore the serious discussion of the U.N.'s mischief and promise in ConUNdrum is worthwhile reading for foreign policy scholars and practitioners. It contains many hard earned insights and ideas for reform.
'Multilateralism' is the buzzword of the Obama Administration's foreign policy. In this wide-ranging collection of essays, America's leading experts on multilateralism—John Bolton, David Rivkin, and Kim Holmes among them—explain the uses and, more often, misuses of multilateralism as a tool of American statecraft. Invaluable.
Townhall, October 2009
- Peter Brooks
ConUNdrum offers not only a smart analysis of how to think about the U.N. but also fresh ideas for how to help reform it to better advance peace and security, human rights and prosperity-all core American interests.
December 2009 The Washington Times
Conundrum advocates smarter global engagement, using the U.N. when possible and seeking alternatives when necessary.
A worthy volume.
March 2010 Rusi
A timely analysis of the UN's past and present effectiveness, which postulates how that reform may take place. Despite its reformative emphasis, the authors of the ten essays in ConUNdrum have thankfully avoided merely pointing the finger at UN officials. . . . ConUNdrum is a provocative book. It needs to be.
Here is the most practical and constructive array of proposals for U.N. betterment yet produced. Many of the best ideas don't stand a chance of getting through those Member States who thrive on bad international bureaucracy and can block reform. But every page of this volume can be cited to encourage U.N. improvement or shame the entrenched defenders of the status quo. This is no hatchet job but the most responsible collection of fresh ideas for the World Organization ever gathered between two covers.
Foreword: The Key to Changing the United Nations System
Chapter 1. Smart Multilateralism: When and When Not to Rely on the United Nations
Chapter 2. Making Law: The United Nation's Role in Formulating and Enforcing International Law
Chapter 3. Mission Improbable: International Interventions, the United Nations, and the Challenge of Conflict Resolution
Chapter 4. Dysfunction in International Environmental Policy: How the U.N. Undermines Effective Solutions
Chapter 5. Human Wrongs: Why the U.N. Is Ill-Equipped to Champion Human Rights
Chapter 6. The Quest for Happiness: How the U.N.'s Advocacy of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Undermines Liberty and Opportunity
Chapter 7. The United Nations and Development: Grand Aims, Modest Results
Chapter 8. Promoting Free Trade through the United Nations
Chapter 9. Restoring the Role of the Nation-State System in Arms Control and Disarmament
Chapter 10. Curing the International Health System
Conclusion: The United Nations—Neither Irrelevant nor Indispensable