UN image cropOn the eve of its 70th birthday, the United Nations stands at a crossroads. 2016 marks a halfway point in the organization’s global efforts to eradicate poverty, hunger and discrimination and ensure justice and dignity for all peoples.

A set of eight “Millennium Development Goals” which were established at the turn of the century have achieved some success, including reducing extreme poverty by half.  However, the UN’s 193 member-states have now established a new set of “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs)—a new series of benchmarks that will be more difficult to achieve.

The Arizona Senior Academy (ASA) is presenting a discussion on the United Nations on Thursday (March 10) at 3:30 p.m. as part of the annual Great Decisions program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA). Jed Kee, professor emeritus of Public Policy and Public Administration, will facilitate the discussion.

There are major obstacles to the effectiveness of the UN, including competition from other agencies, co-option by donors, lack of coherence in a fragmented system of governance, questionable administrative capacity, and the complacency of its 80,000 international civil servants.

The ninth secretary-general, scheduled for appointment in 2016, will face the challenge of meeting a set of aggressive SDGs, then streamlining the cumbersome UN bureaucracy, and forging consensus among the world’s nations on controversial issues such as climate change.

The FPA provides a brief video overview and a briefing book which contains background information about the current issues, suggested discussion questions, and a list of further readings. People who have not already purchased the briefing book may still do so at http://fpa.org/great_decisions/?act=gd_materials.

The free presentation will take place in the ASA’s Great Room, 13715 E. Langtry Lane, and is open to the public.

Written by Jed Kee, Academy Village Volunteer

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The United Nations: Can It Be Reformed?: March 2016