Overcoming the Past

  • Sandrine Tesner
  • Georg Kell


The end of the Cold War, the globalization of the economy, and the announced “end of history” were all factors in the UN’s decision to renew its ties with the private sector. Although nothing precluded such collaboration from the time of the UN’s creation in 1945, the conditions required to strike that partnership did not prevail until the 1990s. Private-public partnerships are not a new concept, however. They existed in the fifteenth century in the form of associations between the rising traders of Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands, and political leaders all over Europe. Taking place at the crossroads between the economic and the political realms, the fairs of the Hanseatic League can be seen as the forerunners to such contemporary summits as the World Economic Forums annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. But once the nation-state made its entrance on the world stage in the seventeenth century, it became the responsibility of political bureaucracies to regulate the content and format of economic relations. Governmental control over the economy remained in place until increasing exchanges and the rise of an international business class in the second half of the nineteenth century challenged the nationalist model of mercantilism. The new state of affairs had its credo, liberalism, whose laissez-faire version ruled economic discourse until 1945. The drafters of the United Nations Charter did not question the key assumptions of free trade and free capital flows, but the Great Depression imposed some compromises on nineteenth-century laissez-faire.


Private Sector Foreign Direct Investment World Trade Organization Security Council International Labor Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This portrayal of Venice’s glory can be found in Braudel/Duby , La Méditerranée, Les Hommes et l’Héritage. Paris: Champs Flammarion, 1986;Google Scholar
  3. see chapter on Venice. See also Braudel , Le Modèle Italien. Paris: Champs Flammarion, 1994.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    John Gerard Ruggie, Constructing the World Polity: Essays on International Institutionalization. London: Routledge, 1998, p. 145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 6.
    François Furet, La Révolution, 1770–1880. Paris: Hachette Littératures, 1988.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    It can be argued that President Wilson had not explained the aims and strategies of the League to the American people and had not expended much energy on lobbying members of Congress to support it. The lesson would not be lost on Franklin Roosevelt thirty years later. See John Gerard Ruggie, Winning the Peace: America and World Order in the New Era. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, for an original treatment of U.S. congressional positions toward multilateralism since 1900.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Charles Poor Kindleberger, The World in Depression: 1929–1939. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See Robert C. Hilderbrand, Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990, p. 47.Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    Georg Schild, Bretton Woods and Dumbarton Oaks: American Economic and Political Postwar Planning in the Summer of 1944. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995, p. 183.Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    John Gerard Ruggie, “International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order,” in International Regimes, ed. Stephen D. Krasner. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983. A reworked version of the original article can be found in Constructing the World Polity, pp. 62–84.Google Scholar
  11. 44.
    The following provide good general discussions of structuralist and dependency theories: Joan E. Spero, The Politics of International Economic Relations. New York: St. Martins Press, 1990;Google Scholar
  12. Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987;Google Scholar
  13. and Jeffry Frieden and David Lake, International Political Economy: Perspectives on Global Power and Wealth. New York: St. Martins Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  14. The classic text on the structuralist agenda of third world countries is Stephen D. Krasner, Structural Conflict: The Third World Against Global Liberalism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  15. 63.
    Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye. Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition. Boston: Little, Brown, 1977.Google Scholar
  16. 66.
    The tale of her ambassadorship is vividly recounted in Allan Gerson’s The Kirkpatrick Mission, Diplomacy Without Apology: America at the United Nations, 1981–85. New York: Free Press, 1991. The author was Ambassador Kirkpatrick’s legal counsel at the U.S. Mission to the UN.Google Scholar
  17. 74.
    Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.Google Scholar
  18. 77.
    Jagdish Bhagwati, A Stream of Windows: Unsettling Reflections on Trade, Immigration, and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998, pp. 38–39. Bhagwati also notes that the 1990 level must be compared to a share of trade to GNP of 3.6 percent in 1950.Google Scholar
  19. 82.
    See Sandrine Tesner, How to Do Business with the United Nations: The Complete Guide to UN Procurement. New York: UNA-USA, 1995, 1996, and 1997 editions.Google Scholar
  20. 103.
    For a theoretical background to this speech, see Ruggie, Constructing the Word Polity, p. 67, especially the reference to Karl Polanyi: “Laissez-faire was planned.” See Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press, 1944.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sandrine Tesner 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandrine Tesner
  • Georg Kell

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations