Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips
Chapter 15: The role of the United Nations in the governance of development
This chapter analyses the role played by the United Nations (UN) in the global governance of development since the end of the Cold War. The topic is quite appropriate to a volume concerned with the international political economy of governance. For one thing, development has emerged since the 1950s as a major subject of debate within the sphere of global governance (Payne 2005; Rist 2008; Burnell et al. 2011). Furthermore, the legitimacy of the UN as a global 'governor' is well established, especially in the development field (Jolly et al. 2004; Toye and Toye 2004; Murphy 2006; Weiss and Daws 2007; Stokke 2009; Avant et al. 2010). The chapter sustains the argument that the international political economy of governance is always constructed on the basis of an ideology which expresses a comprehensive set of beliefs pertaining to the international political and economic order, and whose goal is the regulation of political practices. Governance can be described in terms of its ultimate purpose, that is, to be a problem-solving mechanism by which 'individuals and institutions . . . manage their common affairs' (Commission on Global Governance 1995: 2). Yet it must be kept in mind that, for this mechanism to function, a prior framing of issues must take place, based on an overall view of 'how society should be organised' (Schwarzmantel 2008: 27). As shall be seen, the UN's governance of development clearly indicates the pertinence of such an explanatory framework.
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