The United Nations has come in for severe criticism from the likes of US ‘Ambassador’ John Bolton and his fellow neo-con hawks for its post-colonial biases, notably against Israel, and from liberals who believe it should be more active in pursuing the agendas of human-rights lawyers and NGOs. Ironically, its most stalwart defenders are such autocracies as China and Russia, as well as the many dictatorships represented in the General Assembly, for the UN manages to combine its global humanitarian and peace-keeping efforts with a staunch defence of the sovereign integrity of its member nation states. The US seems to be taking a fresh look at the organisation. After the aggressive unilateralism of George W Bush, the UN may come back from the margins under the more multilaterally minded Barack Obama, an early recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize because of his rediscovery of diplomacy. Here is an opportunity indeed.
Mark Mazower is a British historian who has written specialist books on the Balkans as well as two synthetic histories of Europe in the first half of the twentieth century, the first of which is considerably better than the second. Nowadays the Professor of History and World Order