The UN at 70, and the UK. Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Action, and Peace and Security: Lessons from Experience and Policy Recommendations
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2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the UN, a good moment for reflection about the strengths, weaknesses and priorities for change needed in the world’s most all-embracing international organisation which had already existed for over three times longer than the League of Nations. Such reflections are needed from each of the UN’s member countries – and in this IDS Evidence Report, they are insider reflections by UK citizens who have in different ways spent much or all of their careers working for or closely with the organisation, often in many parts of the world. The three Witness Seminars organised in May and October 2015 and January 2016 capture both personal experiences in a wide diversity of countries and situations, and informed thinking about the international organisation, both of its past and its future. Most of the pieces end with recommendations about ways to strengthen the UN – and, in particular, ways in which the United Kingdom as a major funder and permanent member of the Security Council, could use its influence and resources to help the UN better to adapt to meet future challenges. The full records of these Witness Seminars and much other background material will be added to the archive records of the UN kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, as part of the UN Career Records Project (UNCRP) and are thus available both historical and further research purposes. By their nature Witness Seminars ask individuals to review their experiences, with frankness and openness. By definition, their judgements on many issues will be subjective, without the footnotes or sources expected in a normal scholarly article. Their opinions are all the more interesting and important because they have emerged from real experiences. We hope articles in this IDS Evidence Report live up to this – though more than usual, we must point out that the opinions expressed here represent the views of the authors and participants in the Witness Seminars, and not necessarily those of the IDS, the UNA or BAFUNCS.