In search of partnership
"The concept of "international community" is widely used today. But we live in an age when international law is increasingly flouted and when the world, thrown off balance by unequal development, torn apart by violence and approaching the end of a century whose problems it has failed to solve, is now preparing to plunge chaotically into the next. In these circumstances it seems difficult to understand how a notion so cruelly belied by history can have met with so much success." Such are the opening words of the article in this issue (see overleaf) in which French jurist René-Jean Dupuy analyses the concept of the "international community" in the modern world. An important part of his analysis is devoted to the supreme political expression of this community, the United Nations, which he regards as useful and indeed irreplaceable, despite its flaws and disadvantages, and as "an incomparable means, for Third World countries, of pressing their case vis-à-vis the wealthy".
On the eve of the 21st century, problems of unusual gravity confront the global community as it struggles to achieve self-expression. On the solution of these problems hinges the lasting establishment of a world order in which peace and justice prevail. Two of these major problems receive coverage in this month's magazine. The first is the way in which rampant world demographic growth and the urban explosion in the Third World are undermining efforts to bring about development and improve social conditions in the developing countries. Unsurprisingly in this context, the General Assembly of the United Nations has proclaimed 1987 as "International Year ofShelter for the Homeless". The second problem is a consequence of the paradox that poverty not only still exists in spite of the potential for progress inherent in modern technology but in some cases is actually becoming more acute or appearing in different forms, as in the case of those who have been called the "new poor" in certain technologically advanced societies.
Among the themes examined elsewhere in this issue are: international cultural co-operation (to which UNESCO makes a major contribution), an important recent archaeological discovery in China, the development of the reading habit in the Soviet Union, and the survival of traditional games and sports. These are just some of the many activities through which the diverse components of the human community are endeavouring to live "in partnership".