I can think of only one international body that can lay claim to a semblance of democracy: the United Nations. All the other organisations that regard themselves as global – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation – are creations of the west and their power structures reflect that fact. This is the reason why the United States has always had a troubled relationship with the UN; it is the one organisation where it is not assured of getting its own way. On the contrary, it often finds itself hugely outnumbered, resolutions on the Middle East and Israel being a classic trigger. That, rather than being strapped for cash, is why the US has always been so reluctant to pay its dues. So, it was no surprise to find the US boycotting this year’s UN World Conference against Racism in Geneva, or that it walked out of the first such meeting in Durban in 2001. America is invariably on the defensive on such occasions.