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A Closer Look: Professor seeks stronger U.N.

By Saba Riazati

Oct. 17, 2006 9:00 p.m.

Michael Intriligator has worked with the United Nations and
academics around the world to increase the effectiveness of the
international government.

Intriligator, a professor emeritus of economics, political
science and public policy who has been with UCLA since 1963, has
studied the effectiveness of the United Nations and is currently
working with an international group of scholars and politicians to
make recommendations for changes within the international governing

He has dedicated the past 40 years of his life to studying
public policy, international governance, and now, how to bring
experts together to resolve larger issues by sharing ideas under a
common roof ““ all of which he never thought he would do when
he first began his career as an economist.

Intriligator’s activities extend far beyond merely
studying the disciplines. In fact, his growing popularity and
success come from the multiple projects he has worked on.

In particular, the newest project he is involved in includes
putting together ideas to improve international governance; this is
inclusive of trying to work to attain a more effective United
Nations Organization council.

When the U.N. formed in 1945, “it was built for a
different era with different issues and problems” than what
is seen and experienced today, Intriligator said.

Like most people passionate about an issue, the long list of
books and events to which he was invited to speak shows his
insistence on pursuing different mediums to voice his ideas and

And while serving as a guest speaker on the topic of governance
in the realm of the international community and publishing other
related books may seem to prove Intriligator’s dedication to
the study of the U.N., he soon found himself involved with another
organization dedicated to a similar discipline of study.

Two years ago, the opportunity to join the Global Governance
Group, an international group of scholars and politicians aiming to
advance policy recommendations, came to the surface.

The group’s first of a series of conferences began in
Athens immediately following the 2004 Olympics. Think
“Olympics of global governance,” Intriligator

Global governance refers to political interaction aimed at
solving problems that affect more than one region when there is no
power enforcing compliance, or more simply, “the management
of global processes in the absence of global government,”
Adil Najam, a scholar of the subject at Boston University, said in
a statement.

The group defined its purpose in the first meeting, which was to
provide a pre-negotiating forum to allow the exploration of new
ways of managing the world on the levels of government,
international organizations and civil society.

Intriligator has devoted more than 40 years to the study of
governance and matters related to the effectiveness of the U.N.,
and said he is part of the Global Governance Group in order to
promote the change he believes the U.N. needs to become a stronger
global tool than it is.

“Part of the problem is that the U.N. has become totally
ineffective (recently because) it’s become a beggar
organization,” Intriligator said, referring to the
organization’s lack of steady funding.

The funding problem could have been fixed if the U.N.’s
permanent members had approved an idea proposed by James Tobin some
time ago, Intriligator said.

Tobin, a Nobel laureate in economics, had suggested a tax on
currency exchange that foreigners often instated to create a less
speculative, more stable world currency market. One of his
suggestions was to allow proceeds of the tax to be used to fund the
U.N., but that proposal was vetoed.

“(Permanent members of the U.N.) don’t want the U.N.
to have an independent source of funding; they want to have the
U.N. under their finger,” Intriligator said of the
organization’s funding, which can be handicapping.

He said another weakening factor is the lack of military power
of the U.N.

“The U.N. did not live up to what it had hoped for because
it also never formed the military commission it was supposed to
have created,” Intriligator said.

Thus far, U.N. officials have been present both as speakers and
attendees of the meetings.

The group is continuing work on some of its proposals within
task forces and once the results of the task forces are out, the
group hopes to present its ideas to the international community,
inclusive of the U.N., Intriligator said.

Initiatives taken so far have been lauded by U.N. officials such
as Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former secretary-general of the U.N.
Boutros-Ghali has written a testimonial on the organization’s
Web site hoping the work being done becomes a permanent process
that will “promote peace development and the democratization
of international relations.”

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Saba Riazati
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