Individuals, groups and nations are often confused as to their wants and underlying values. Developing countries want foreign investments, and at the same time, some wish the end of the free-market economic system. Developed countries say they want world peace, and at the same time, some build enormous weapon stockpiles and wish to be the strongest peaceful nation. A kind of societal schizophrenia exists. This is more readily seen in pluralistic societies which, instead of policy setting, accept expedient compromises, and in two or three party democracies where there is alternation in controlling the government.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.