Reforming the United Nations

The Struggle for Legitimacy and Effectiveness


Author: Joachim Müller
The United Nations is in need of reform. There has always been widespread agreement that this is the case – indeed throughout the 60-year history of the Organization. Differences over the best cure reflect the political confrontation between its 191 member states. The institution has been criticized to lack legitimacy, to need accountability and to be inefficient with a bloated bureaucracy. Recently, allegations of mismanagement and corruption in the Oil-for-Food Program have led to a crisis of confidence. The public debate followed reform initiatives for enlarging the Security Council, achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and establishing new collective mechanisms to protect human rights, counter terrorism and respond to crimes against humanity. Strengthening oversight, governance and management practices aimed at introducing fundamental institutional changes. The publication describes the reform process leading to the United Nations Summit in September 2005. The achievements remain disappointing with the failure to approve a grand bargain. A number of recommendations are put forward to facilitate the reform process in the United Nations, realising, however, that this will remain cumbersome and a lengthy step-by-step effort.

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“All in all then, this is a very useful collection, containing a solid and insightful
introduction and reproducing six key documents. While many may question the
volume’s utility at present (given the recent publication date of all documents concerned
and their widespread availability), in future years it will no doubt become
convenient to have all documents together.”

Jan Klabbers in International Organizations Law Review, issue 4:1

”No library with any International Law content could be complete without all five volumes of this comprehensive, well-written and painstakingly supported collation of the heart of the contemporary U.N. reform process ”

ASIL Newsletter, Issue #36

Table of Contents,
List of Abbreviations,
Part I Reforming the United Nations: The Struggle for Legitimacy and Effectiveness, The History of United Nations Reform Efforts, 1950 to 2002,
1.1 Cold War, North-South Conflict and the Revitalization of the United Nations, 1950 to 1996, 1.2 Structural Adjustments and a New Vision: The Quiet Revolution, 1997 to 2002,
1.3 Security Council Reform: The Unfinished Business,
2. New Reform Initiatives: The Struggle for Legitimacy and Effectiveness, 2003 To 2006,
2.1 September 11, Iraq and The Issue of Collective Security.
2.2 A Fork in the Road: The Need for a Fundamental Assessment of The United Nations,
2.3 High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change: A More Secure World,
2.4 UN Millennium Project: Investing in Development,
2.5 United Nations Secretary-General: In Larger Freedom.
2.6 United Nations Oil-For-Food Programme: The Volcker Inquiry and Congressional Initiatives,
2.7 Security Council Reform: The Collapse of Aspirations,
2.8 2005 World Summit: A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity,
2.9 Follow-Up to The World Summit: Continued and New Reform Efforts,
2.10 Concluding Comments: Incremental Steps Towards Legitimacy and Effectiveness,
Part II, Documents, 1. A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, High-Level Panel On Threats, Challenges and Change, 2 December 2004, 2. Investing In Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve The Millennium Development Goals, UN Millennium Project, 2005, 3. In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights For, All Secretary-General, United Nations, 21 March 2005, 4. The Management of The United Nations Oil-For-Food Programme, Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-For-Food Programme, 7 September 2005, 5. 2005 World Summit Outcome, United Nations World Summit, 16 September 2005, 6. Investing in The United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide, Secretary-General, United Nations, 7 March 2006, Index Of Names.