An act against the law in which the perpetrator was unaware of its nature and over which he had no control leaves him, in many jurisdictions, immune from requests for court-awarded damages. Plaintiffs have no redress under these conditions and governments do not maintain public funds to compensate victims of such unintentional actions.
In the moral law of major religions, and in primitive or tribal societies, agents of acts against law or custom, even if these were unintentional, were nevertheless punished. Underlying justifications are related to concepts of impurity, moral tainting and violation of taboos, as well as to kismet, karma, and superstitious doctrines that describe persons as evil, cursed or bewitched when they are involved in behaviour threatening to local society. Some prosecutions of persons as accomplices before or after the fact (of criminality) may find fault simply in familial loyalty. Unstable and despotic regimes have practised summary justice under the wildest, guilt-by-association, reasoning.
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.