The United Nations System

A Reference Handbook

by Chadwick F. Alger


A malevolent conspiracy for one-world government or a force for peace and international harmony? Few organizations are as widely misunderstood—or influential—as the United Nations. This indispensable guide lays bare its workings and assesses its track record in maintaining peace and human rights over the last 60 years.

Print Flyer

November 2005


Pages 375
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/International Relations

From the beginnings of the Cold War to efforts to control Saddam Hussein's weapons program, this indispensable guide to the history and workings of the UN system shows how this widely misunderstood organization has helped to make the world a safer place and what its future prospects are likely to be.

Rising from the ashes of World War II, the UN's birth was announced on October 24, 1945. Its military arm began in 1948 with the deployment of just 36 soldiers, tasked with supervising a fragile cease-fire in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since then it has undertaken more than 50 peacekeeping missions and concluded 500 multilateral conventions on human rights, arms control, environment, terrorism, and many other subjects.

The United Nations System examines the continuing controversy that surrounds this organization. Whereas conservatives accuse the UN of wavering in the face of gross violations of its own resolutions by Saddam Hussein, many liberals have lambasted it for failing to take decisive action against genocide in the Balkans and in Rwanda. Highly readable and packed with useful facts and illustrations, this book is essential reading for those who wish to make up their own minds.


  • Features the original texts of key UN documents such as the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Details the chronology of the UN system and the changes that have occurred since its founding in 1945


  • Reveals the ways in which the workings of the UN system affect our everyday lives
  • Provides insight on the underutilized potential that the UN System offers for long-term peace building
  • Discusses the extent to which the UN system provides a framework for global governance
Author Info

Chadwick F. Alger, Ph.D., is Mershon Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Emeritus at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. He received his degree in political science at Princeton University. He has conducted extensive firsthand research at UN headquarters in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland, and is the editor of The Future of the United Nations System: Potential for the Twenty-First Century.



"This book should be in all libraries that need up-to-date information on globalization, the United Nations, and the interrelationship between countries. This would include all university libraries."—American Reference Books Annual

Series Description

Contemporary World Issues

24-hour cable news. Millions of Internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about. Visit the entire list of titles in the series at


  • Subject coverage spans six main categories:
  • Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that supports statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, Web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms

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