Some of the difficulties arising from jurisdictional disputes between intergovernmental agencies are compounded at the regional level, particularly in the case of the United Nations Regional Economic Commissions. These are specially prone to jurisdictional clashes, since they cover the whole array of economic and social matters and so impinge on the areas of competence of most Specialized Agencies.
The irrelevant organization of the UN regional economic commissions, which is largely responsible for the fact that so many governments have preferred to solve multilateral economic problems outside the UN, arises from the failure to lay down at the outset any consistent doctrine and consequent structure with regard to the relationship of UN regional activities with those of the Organization as a whole. Particularly unfortunate has been the UN doctrine, cherished since the foundation of the Organization, which regards political blocs as illegitimate bodies which should have no part in UN institutions, regional or otherwise. Not only are such blocs a part of reality which cannot be ignored except at the cost of failure, but they are in fact a positive necessity to the democratic structuring of any international body composed of sovereign states with varying interests.
In Europe and in Asia, at all events, governments look for political responsiveness and for effective regional action to the non-UN regional organizations. The regional economic commissions are left with those scraps of the whole which are not already being dealt with elsewhere. In Africa, for example, the political preference of many governments for the Organization of African Unity as compared with the UN Economic Commission for Africa is only partly outweighed by the superior equipment and experience of the latter in its own field.