Bureaucracy in International Organizations: Building Capacity and Credibility in a Newly Interdependent World
This chapter provides a brief overview of the best-known and most universal of the international organizations, the United Nations system, or, as it is informally known, “the world organization.” It focuses on the operations of the secretariats of the United Nations system, and the challenges, problems, constraints, and successes that have shaped their bureaucratic development. The emergence of international organizations has been a notable development of the twentieth century. The League of Nations failed dismally, but provided useful lessons for operating an international bureaucracy. The United Nations system struggled during the long Cold War period from about 1945 to 1989. The 1990s give the United Nations system unexpected new opportunities to achieve their basic goals but raise as well the question of whether their bureaucratic systems and political support are up to the task. The haphazard growth of United Nations system programs, dealing with almost every field of human activity, has led to persistent efforts at reform.