The Challenge of United Nations Reform

Author/s (editor/s):

Christian Reus-Smit, Marianne Hanson, Hilary Charlesworth, William Maley

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'The Challenge of United Nations Reform', Keynotes 05, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, November 2004.

The international community founded the United Nations in 1945 as the centrepiece of an ambitious institutional strategy to prevent the recurrence of world war, global depression, and massive humanitarian crises, the most tragic of which had been the Holocaust. Sixty years later the world is again confronting multiple governance challenges, from combating transnational terrorism while maintaining existing constraints on the use of force to stabilising the world economy while alleviating endemic poverty and political alienation. None of these challenges can be met through unilateral or bilateral means alone, and the existing architecture of multilateral institutions is in serious need of reform. A renaissance in multilateral institutions will not proceed far, however, unless the central problem of reforming the United Nations is confronted. In this Keynote, a number of leading scholars consider three crucial aspects of UN reform: Security Council reform, renovation of the UN human rights system, and the role of the UN in responding to broader humanitarian crises.

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