Alynna Lyon, associate professor of political science, has written a book that explores the United States' relationship to the United Nations. In "US Politics and the United Nations: A Tale of Dysfunctional Dynamics" (Lynne Rienner Publishers), Lyon examines the waxing and waning of U.S. support for the U.N., tracing events, actions and decisions from the end of World War I to the present.
"The United Nations, a largely U.S.-fashioned organization, is the subject of debate, derogatory remarks, perpetual lack of funding, and even obstructionism by the United States," writes Lyon in her introduction. "Beginning in the mid-1970s, the U.S. foreign policy community began to voice its mistrust of the United Nations. By 2003, the U.S.-U.N. relationship had deteriorated to the point at which a sitting president declared the institution 'irrelevant' and predicted that the U.N. was heading toward extinction."
Lyon points out a paradox in this position: the number of global problems that increasingly require international cooperation. For comprehensive coordination between countries, civil society and the private sector, the U.N. is really "the only game in town."
"The United States appears to be avoiding — and in some cases even undermining — the very institutional frameworks it helped create to manage these demands," she writes.
In "US Politics and the United Nations," Lyon weaves together a consideration of international context, U.N. institutional dynamics and U.S. domestic politics to conceptualize and explain the trials and tribulations of the U.S.-U.N. relationship.
Lyon has recently authored a second book on the U.N., with Karen A. Mingst and Margaret P. Karns, "The United Nations in the 21st Century" (5th edition, Westview Press). The book provides an introduction to the United Nations, exploring the historical, institutional and theoretical foundations of the U.N. This newest edition focuses on major trends since 2012, including changing power dynamics, increasing threats to peace and security, and the challenges of climate change.
Lyon's research focuses on conflict mobilization, international organizations, peacekeeping and American Foreign Policy. She has published several articles and book chapters on these topics. She is faculty advisor for the UNH Model United Nations program.