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The United Nations: past and present



The UN is approaching its seventieth birthday in 2015. Kofi Annan, its seventh secretary general, and the only incumbent not to have come from a national government, has written the most honest and insightful memoir of any occupant of the thirty-eighth floor, Interventions. Despite terrible setbacks in Bosnia and Rwanda, the United Nations remains the most representative and successful international organization in history. As Mark Mazower points out in his Governing the world, an acutely penetrating history of international governance, the successes of the UN are more than the founders of the ill-fated League of Nations could have dreamt of. Mazower's tour de force combines a history of the intellectual ideas of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and their eventual realization in the League of Nations and the UN. While his conclusions question whether faith in international institutions has been lost, the reality of universal membership of the UN and establishment of an International Criminal Court might suggest otherwise.