Read "Is the UN Doomed?" by Tony Judt in The New York Review of Books (Volume 54, Number 2 · February 15, 2007). Subscription or online payment is required to read this.
Bob Maybury alerted me to this review of three recent books about the United Nations.
"There are actually many UNs of which the military and political branches (General Assembly, Security Council, Peacekeeping Operations) are only the best known." UNESCO is the first of several that Judt names.
"Much of the work done by these units is routine. And the "soft tasks" of the UN- addressing health and environmental problems, assisting women and children in crisis, educating farmers, training teachers, providing small loans, monitoring rights abuse -- are sometimes performed just as well by national or nongovernmental agencies, though in most cases only at UN prompting or in the wake of a UN sponsored initiative."
Judt may underestimate the worldwide importance of UNESCO and other UN agencies in protecting the free press, in pushing for scientific freedom, in promoting ethical conduct in the natural sciences, and promoting the application of social science research findings in public policy.