chapter  29
The need for rethinking the United Nations: modernizing through civil society
ByJohn E. Trent
Pages 12

The opening line of the frontispiece of Scholte’s Building Global Democracy? (2011) is: “The scale, effectiveness and legitimacy of global governance lag far behind the world’s needs”; the closing plea: “Pressing global challenges are crying out for more global governance” (Scholte 2011: i, 342). Malloch-Brown (2011: 241) argues for strengthening international institutions “because the world needs to have rules in place that allow for peaceful adjustments between states . . . We all now live in an underregulated hell where deteriorating earth, rivers, oceans, and climate go unchecked . . . We share the impact globally, but the solutions remain blocked at the national level.” These eloquent calls for the transformation of international institutions, especially the United Nations (UN), are two recent examples of recognition that the world cannot long continue the way it is without facing calamity. If one asks people what they consider to be the world’s worst problems, almost everyone has some idea: global warming, fi scal crises, terrorism, inequality, international mafi as, pollution, or pandemics. The list is endless. But the one thing they do not mention is the common denominator to all these global demons: the fact that humanity does not have the appropriate institutions for making authoritative decisions to resolve them. Hence, they-we-need to rethink the UN.