The UN After Sixty Years: Progress or Recurrence?
AbstractThis paper analyzes the historical trajectory or pathway of the United Nations. Its method or approach is that of macro-history. The paper distinguishes four potential pathways: progress, evolutionary growth, discontinuity, and recurrence or cyclicality. The paper argues that the UN is not on a path of progress from Divided Nations to United World; instead there is a recurring pendulum swing between golden ages of relative unity and dark ages of division. The paper argues that the course of UN history has been marked by four landmark cycles. The first was from the wartime unity of the Grand Alliance, and the establishment of the UN, to postwar, Cold War, division. The next was from the emergence of unity over decolonization and development circa 1960 to the North-South conflict. The third cycle was from the new unity in the early post-Cold War years to new divisions in the late 1990s. Most recently, we have witnessed a dramatic fourth swing of the pendulum from unity in response to 9/11 to bitter division over the Iraq War.