The Twists and Turns of the History of the United Nations Development Programme

Date01 September 2014
Published date01 September 2014
Book Reviews 679
“new dimension” central to the UNDP’s mandate,
eventually leading to a “Consensus” adopted by the
Governing Council in June 1970 integrating these
principles and orienting the UNDP’s organizational
Indeed, the author points out that the discussion of
the UNDP’s role went on in a rather piecemeal man-
ner for decades.  e Human Development Report,
published for the f‌i rst time in 1990, represented an
important breakthrough in terms of the UNDP’s
positioning.  e report moved beyond consider-
ing gross national product growth, income, wealth,
production of commodities, and capital accumula-
tion. Introducing the concept of human development
as “a process of enlarging people’s choices,” it chal-
lenged the dominant, exclusively economic meas-
urement of development (UNDP 1990). Although
this is highlighted in his book, Bhouraskar expresses
surprise, noting that “it took such a long time for
UN legislative bodies and UNDP administration to
realize what was evident.” Growth strategies changed
over time, with the question of poverty lurking in the
background, and it was only in the 1990s that the
“consensus on poverty eradication, human resource
development, democratic governance, environ-
ment and national ownership” crystalized (198).
Nevertheless, as the author observes, from a techni-
cal assistance point of view, these issues were never
discussed comprehensively, and the UNDP operated
in a piecemeal manner.
e report on which the “Consensus” was founded
referred to the idea of centralizing the mobilization
and allocation of resources in the UNDP. However,
that possibility was left aside, being considered
impracticable “in the light of political dif‌f‌i culties and
vested interests in the system” (28). Indeed, the new
approach would soon be challenged by new trends
in the international system and by some “inf‌l uential
donors”—to whom Bhouraskar often refers but never
identif‌i es. He claims that those donors were frustrated
by a prevailing multilateral approach and recipient
Digambar Bhouraskar, United Nations Development
Aid: A History of UNDP (New Delhi, India:
Academic Foundation, 2013). 230 pp. $49.95
(cloth), ISBN 9789332700086.
Digambar Bhouraskar’s book United Nations
Development Aid: A History of UNDP follows
his f‌i rst volume, in which he presented the
history of United Nations aid from 1946 to 1966, and
extends that narrative to 2010.  e United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) was established
in 1966 by the merger of two preexisting programs
of technical assistance, the Expanded Program of
Technical Assistance and the United Nations Special
Fund.  e author chronologically analyzes the evolu-
tion of the UNDP from four main perspectives: the
UNDP’s mission, mobilization of resources, program
implementation, and evaluation, each of which con-
stitutes a separate section of Bhouraskar’s book.
is analytical approach unavoidably leads to some
repetition and overlap but allows us to keep track
of the historical sequence of events, giving specif‌i c
insights into each of them. In the following para-
graphs, an attempt is made to highlight the most
relevant issues emerging through the four sections of
the book.
Without receiving any particular mandate at the time
of its creation, the UNDP continued to administer
resources made available through the mechanisms in
use by its two predecessors. It continued to follow a
project approach based on the review and f‌i nancing
of proposals prepared by recipient countries with the
support of specialized agencies. However, the prin-
ciple of countries’ sovereignty in deciding their own
priorities for assistance, together with the concept of
country programming and targets, fed debate about
the UNDP’s mandate in its f‌i rst years of existence.
In the early 1970s, in the context of the UN’s pro-
gram for the Establishment of a New International
Economic Order, the promotion of countries’ self-
reliance and institutional development became the
e Twists and Turns of the History of the United
Nations Development Programme
Sonia M. Ospina and Rogan Kersh, Editors
Eduardo Missoni
Bocconi University, Italy
Eduardo Missoni is adjunct professor
at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy and in
its postgraduate management school (SDA
Bocconi). His teaching and research activi-
ties focus on management of international
institutions and nonprof‌i t organizations
and global health and development. He
also teaches courses at other institutions,
including the University of Milan Bicocca,
Italy and the Geneva School of Diplomacy
and International Relations, Switzerland.
He has more than 30 years of experience
in the f‌i eld of international development
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 5, pp. 679–681. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12266.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT