This volume is the up-to-date English version of the fifth Italian edition of a textbook on the United Nations which was first published in 1971 by CEDAM (Padua).
The book aims to provide a comprehensive legal analysis of problems concerning membership, the structure of U.N. organisations, their functions and their acts taking into consideration the text of the Charter, its historical origins, and, particularly, the practice of the organisations. Developments in United Nations practice subsequent to 1971 have obviously been taken into account. As a general working criterion, the more recent practice has been added to the pre-existing one, rather than substituting it, even when past practice may appear to be obsolete. Indeed one of the aims of the book is to trace the `story' of the United Nations from its birth precisely through an analysis of the practice. Moreover, since the Charter has never undergone any substantive modifications, one cannot exclude that what may appear to be old and obsolete today could become of current interest in the future. For this reason the examination of former practice will sooner or later become useful to anyone seeking to interpret the Charter.
For instance, in 1975 the United States proposed the admission of the two Vietnams, which were separate countries at that time, and of the two Koreas, under the `package' technique. Thus the well-known 1948 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the `package' proposed by the Soviet Union for collective admission in the 40s and 50s again became timely, despite its having appeared obsolete.
This legal analysis which is free of dogmatism and firmly linked to practice describes the role played by the United Nations in the past and at present better than many lengthy and inconclusive political or sociological studies. The book is very much focused on the Charter as it stands while it only marginally deals with reforms that might be introduced, such as those concerning the structure of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Indeed, it is difficult to foresee radical reforms, giving the UN an entirely new shape. This is particularly true with regard to endowing the Organisation with the force and efficacy that would be needed for the maintenance of peace and security. Recent events have clearly shown how unfeasible such an endowment would be.
The International IDEA Handbook on Democracy Assessment is a robust and sensitive guide to assessing the quality of democracy and human rights in any country around the world. The
Handbook introduces an easy-to-use and universal methodology for assessing the condition of democracy in any country, or its progress in democratisation, that has been developed in a three-year action programme at IDEA, the inter-governmental Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Sweden.
Handbook provides a means to measure systematically the full range of values, institutions and issues relating to modern democracy that is sensitive to the underlying principles and democracy and the differences between democracies themselves. It is therefore both universal in application and capable of responding to particular aspects of any one nation's democratic arrangements. The animating principle of the
Handbook is that only citizens of a nation themselves are qualified to assess the quality of their own democratic arrangements. Thus, it provides a self-help guide, which gives academics, lawyers, political practitioners, journalists and interested citizens the tools to assess the state of their democracy, or any key aspects of their democracy.
Handbook is above all a practical working document that draws on the actual experience of assessing democracy in different countries, comparative knowledge and research, and democratic principles and practice. It gives a
step-by-step guide to the purposes and methods of democracy assessment; who to involve; how to use the research tools; how to validate the findings; what standards of practice to adopt; and how to present and publicise a finished assessment. It contains extracts from completed assessments, guidance on the use of qualitative and quantitative data, examples of codes of democratic practice and international and regional standards, and a vast list of accessible data sources.
The methodology was created by a team of political scientists assembled from all regions of the world by International IDEA and has been tried and tested in a variety of countries, including Bangladesh, El Salvador, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea and the United Kingdom. International organisations like the World Bank and UNECA are adapting it for in-country use. The four main authors and editors have been directly involved from the inception of the project - in developing and refining the methodology and participating in and advising on the nine country studies that form the essential practical core of experience on which this invaluable
Handbook is based.