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David Rieff questioned the UN's relevance. Not very constructive, says a UN official

By Edward Mortimer   November 2003

“It is easy for an outsider to be cynical about the UN.” David Rieff should know. He has been more cynical than most. His article (Prospect, October) contained a number of familiar jibes, but overall it marked a welcome departure from his previous tone. He thinks UN officials, including Kofi Annan, are acknowledging for the first time that everything is not OK. From our perspective, Rieff is acknowledging, for almost the first time, that we are not self-deluding hypocrites but people who have chosen to work in an imperfect institution, in the hope of being able to improve its performance.

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