WELCOME TO “U.N. REFORM:
DESIGNS FOR A WORKABLE WORLD”
This is a new website, established only in February 2012; but before long it will embody much of my creative effort, over a long lifetime of activism in the causes of justice and peace. Although my career has focused mainly on South Asia (India and neighboring countries), where I have lived, carried out research and taught for more than four and a half years, the principal concern of this website, for the foreseeable future, will be how to make the world a better and more manageable place – not perfect, not totally free from violence, not an economic paradise – but generally lawful and workable. The United Nations system, I believe, can and should play a major part in that process. While that system presently suffers from numerous deficiencies, all of its shortcomings are capable of being corrected, long and difficult though many of the corrective processes will be.
I have recently completed a rather long book (about 600 pages), whose nineteen chapters will be incorporated into this website over the coming months. A basic premise of the book is that the design of decision-making institutions has an important bearing on the legitimacy of the decisions they reach. Good decision-making requires compromise. It must consider the views and capabilities of both shareholders, those who possess essential economic and technological resources, and stakeholders, those affected by major policy decisions. Decision-making systems must also be seen to be inclusive, involving representatives of the people (not just of states) in the allocation of decision-making power. With these ideas in the forefront of my thinking, I have devised numerous formulae for weighted voting in decision-making agencies within the UN system and have also devised ways by which the many expert voices of civil society (non-governmental agencies) can also be systematically heard and weighed.
It is not my intention to prescribe policies on such issues as climate change, sustainable development, human rights, migration, population growth, and so forth. Rather, I take the position that good decision-making systems will, in the fullness of time, be able to arrive at policies that will promote the good of our planet, rather than the interests of individual groups who happen to be militarily and/or economically powerful.
Along with the chapters of my book, this website will feature many articles - some published, others not - written over a period of several decades, in which I address various problems that are developed further in the book. A link to the relevant bibliography is provided.
Apart from my years in India, I have traveled – backpacking and by other inexpensive means - in about a hundred countries in all parts of the world other than Africa South of the Sahara and Antarctica. I’ve lived for four months to a year or more in Germany (where I did much of my military service), France, Spain, and the U.K. I have helped train various groups for the Peace Corps and for various study abroad programs. This involvement with other cultures has, I believe, given me a perspective on the world that is both unique and valuable.
Distinguished International Professor Emeritus University of Minnesota, and President, Minnesota Chapter, Citizens for Global Solutions