This article is based on UN Voices: The Struggle for Development and Social
Justice (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), a volume of oral history
interviews with 73 individuals who were key to the evolution of UN
development thinking. This article has two purposes: to provide a flavour of
the UN story that those 73 voices tell in the book; and to discuss its central
conclusions about the role of international organisations as intellectual actors.
Oral history as method and product provides insights in solving a key puzzle in
contemporary affairs – how ideas eventually become part of international
discourse, policy, and action.