Forever North-South? The political challenges of reforming the UN development system

Baumann, Max-Otto
External Publications (2017)

published on Third World Quarterly 07 Dec 2017, 1-16


Member states of the United Nations (UN) agree that its development system needs substantial reform given its fragmentation and outdated structures, as well as new demands from the 2030 Agenda. Yet, a recent two-year reform process yielded no substantial reform decisions. Why did member states fail to endorse the necessary reforms despite almost unanimous recognition of the need for change? This paper describes member states’ conflicting positions on reforming the UN and analyses their failure to delegate authority to the UN development system. North and South, donors and recipients, are locked in a struggle for power and control, maximising bilateral influence at the expense of the benefits of multilateral cooperation.
The paper contributes to the pool of UN studies, adding a decidedly political perspective of the reform process. It is based on diplomatic statements, negotiation drafts and interviews with UN diplomats.

About the author

Baumann, Max-Otto

Political Science


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