Wartime Origins and the Future United Nations

“Do we need another cataclysm to re-kindle the imagination and energy and cooperation that was in the air in the 1940s, or are we smart enough to adapt in anticipation?” This is the key question behind a compelling story of the origins of the United Nations funded by a grant from Carnegie Corporation. For today’s decision makers and policy analysts, the creation of the UN system during World War II is a largely unknown or forgotten story. This book aims to recover the wartime history of the world body in order to shed light on a possible and preferable future.

At the close of the Second World War, imaginative and transnational thinking about solutions to post-war problems demonstrated a realization that what was needed was an intergovernmental "system" with enough power and competence to work. Back then, the UN was established as a vital necessity for post-war order and prosperity, not a liberal plaything or public relations ploy as many critics now claim.

Today, there is a growing and widespread recognition of the fundamental disconnect between the nature of trans-boundary problems and the solutions considered feasible by 193 UN member states. To move forward, the authors say, there needs to be a set of blueprints for a "third generation" of intergovernmental organizations forged by new thinking and new institutions that may, in fact, have antecedents in wartime thinking and experimentation. 

Wartime Origins and the Future United Nations includes essays by eleven international experts in history, political science, and related fields. The writer/editors are Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor of Political Science and Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

Listen to an interview with Thomas G. Weiss and Morning Briefing host Tim Farley on Sirius XM radio’s POTUS politics channel.