Our apologies to reader Dr Steven Slaughter, whose riposte on this topic found its way into our spam folder and was only just unearthed. To recap, this thread started with The Australian's Greg Sheridan writing that international relations courses at universities 'have an almost built-in bias towards multilateral institutions and the mythology of the UN.'

Steven Slaughter responds:

I teach a large postgraduate UN course and I have to say that I don't completely agree the assessment that students are blindly supportive of multilateralism. I know that while I teach the UN in ways that generally supportive of the UN as a tool, I try to be even handed between the strengths and weaknesses of the UN — even though the course has a clear constructivist line that the UN's influence is primarily through the ideas and norms it articulates or helps facilitate. But I have to say that students are pretty sceptical about the efficacy of the UN. Realism — of both reflective and unreflective varieties — is clearly alive and well in my experience.