In This Review

Utopia Lost: The United Nations and World Order
Utopia Lost: The United Nations and World Order
By Rosemary Righter
Twentieth Century Fund, 1995, 421 pp

This frank and tough-minded appraisal argues that the United Nations has developed so complex and dysfunctional a structure and is based on such inherently contradictory premises that large parts of the international bureaucracy are beyond reform and should be allowed to wither on the vine. This is a tragedy, according to the author, chief editorial writer of The Times of London, because the need and opportunities for a multilateral organization responsible for collective security and international human rights standards have never been greater. With rich historical detail, Righter shows how the mechanisms of the United Nations undermine its larger purposes and impede multilateral organizations that might do the job more effectively. The author argues that it is time for Western governments to get over their patronizing tolerance for an increasingly irrelevant and discredited organization and to think seriously how to salvage a viable core. Along the way, Righter provides analyses of other multilateral organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank (both, in theory, agencies of the United Nations) that have managed to avoid the United Nations' disease.