The UN: A Situation Report


The UN: A Situation Report is a review of two recent books on the past, present, and future of the UN; in short, of its relevance in a changing and uni-polar world at the end of Kofi Annan’s two terms as Secretary-General. The books’ focus is both on the organization’s successes and failures, and its efforts at self-reform in the face of near-constant criticism. They are reviewed as individually divergent in quality but as a formidable “situation report” when read in tandem. Paul Kennedy’s The Parliament of Man, save for its first of three parts, is generally criticized for its lack of depth and overly ambitious breadth, while James Traub’s The Best Intentions is praised as a highly skilled biography of Kofi Annan cum analysis of the UN’s relationship to the United States during his tenure. Both books make a case for the UN’s continued relevance and importance in the wake of Annan’s leadership. While Kennedy merely asserts this position, however, deflecting most criticism away from the organization, Traub is far more probing and critical in his analysis. They are reviewed together as a worthy, if heavily imbalanced, situation report on the UN as it enters its 62nd year.


Comparative and Foreign Law | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Human Rights Law | International Law | Law and Politics | Organizations Law

Date of this Version

December 2006