This brief article highlights some major contributions made by the United Nations to development thinking and practice from 1945 to 2000. The term ‘development’; is used here broadly to refer not only to increases in economic growth and per capita income and to structural change, but also to progress in promoting human rights, poverty reduction, employment generation, fairer distribution of the benefits of growth, participation in decision making at different levels, equality of men and women, child development and well-being, and social justice and environmental sustainability. There is first a discussion of the values that have underpinned UN work on development. This is followed by a summary of some key contributions made by the UN system to thinking on development issues. The article concludes with some observations on the ways in which these contributions were made and on strengths and weaknesses of the system in generating development ideas and action.
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