United Nations

Introduction

United Nations | Research Guide International Law

The United Nations is an international organization, founded in 1945. It was established to promote a set of global values: peace and security, self-determination of peoples, social progress and development, and human dignity. It was set up to serve as a centre for harmonizing the actions of its Member States in the promotion of these values. The Organization currently has 192 Member States. It acts mainly through its six principal organs. The General Assembly, where the entire membership is represented, can discuss any questions within the scope of UN Charter, and make recommendations to the Member States on any such questions. A number of executive councils have been established to effectively promote a particular value: the Security Council for peace and security, the Economic and Social Council for social progress and (sustainable) development, the Trusteeship Council for self-government (and self-determination). The Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to promote universal respect for human dignity. The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, and settles disputes between the Member States. The UN also has a Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General.

This Guide is intended as a starting point for research on the United Nations. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library’s systematic index code, i.e., 54e and keyword United Nations are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

New titles

The Peace Palace Library has a collection of over a million publications. Each week, about six hundred new titles are added to our collection: books, articles, documents, online publications, etc. On this page, access is provided to this week’s new titles mainly on the United Nations structure and organization and on the UN Charter.

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Bibliography

Reference works

Books

Articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

New titles

Updated every Friday morning.

The Peace Palace Library has a collection of over a million publications. Each week, about six hundred new titles are added to our collection: books, articles, documents, online publications, etc. On this page, access is provided to this week’s new titles mainly on the United Nations structure and organization and on the UN Charter.

Seems like there are no recent acquisitions right now.

Librarian's choice

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  • Niemetz, M. D., Reforming UN decision-making procedures : promoting a deliberative system for global peace and security, London, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.

    Niemetz, M. D.,  Reforming UN decision-making procedures : promoting a deliberative system for global peace and security, London, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.

    The institutional procedures for the UN’s decision-making on issues of global peace and security, first and foremost the Security Council (SC), were conceived with the objective of enabling a swift but internationally coordinated response to irregular situations of crises. Today, however, the UN is constantly involved in situations of conflict and has expanded its range of activities.

    This book offers a concrete and practically applicable answer to the question of how to reform the UN and increase the legitimacy of the UN’s decision-making procedures on issues of global peace and security. In order to provide this answer, it connects the minutia of institutional design with the abstract principals of democratic theory in a systematic and reproducible method, thereby enabling a clear normative evaluation of even the smallest technical detail of reform. This evaluation demonstrates that there is a range of feasible proposals for reform that could improve the SC’s accountability both to the General Assembly and to the general public, that could increase the opportunities for effective input from the UN membership and NGOs.

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars of the United Nations, International Organizations and regional governance.

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  • Bode, I., Individual agency and policy change at the United Nations : the people of the United Nations, London, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.

    Bode, I., Individual agency and policy change at the United Nations : the people of the United Nations, London, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.

    This book highlights how temporary international civil servants play a crucial role in initiating processes of legal and institutional change in the United Nations system. These individuals are the “missing” creative elements needed to fully understand the emergence and initial spread of UN ideas such as human development, sovereignty as responsibility, and multifunctional peacekeeping. The book: * Shows that that temporary UN officials are an actor category which is empirically crucial, yet usually neglected in analytical studies of the UN system. Focussing on these particular individual actors therefore allows for a better understanding of complex UN decision-making. * Demonstrates how these civil servants matter, looking at what their agency is based on.
    Offering a new and distinctive model, Bode seeks to move towards a comprehensive conceptualisation of individual agency, which is currently conspicuous for its absence in many theoretical approaches that address policy change * Uses three key case studies of international civil servants (Francis Deng, Mahbub ul Haq and Marrack Goulding) to explore the possibilities of this specific group of UN individuals to act as agents of change and thereby test the prevailing notion that international bureaucrats can only act as agents of the status quo. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of international organizations and the United Nations.

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  • Annan, K., Edward Mortimer (ed.), We the Peoples: A UN for the 21st century, Boulder, Paradigm Publishers, 2014.

    Annan, K., Edward Mortimer (ed.), We the peoples : a UN for the 21st century, Boulder, Paradigm Publishers, 2014

    During his momentous time as Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan played a decisive role in launching the Millennium Development Goals, establishing the International Criminal Court, and articulating the Responsibility to Protect as a guiding principle for international action. In 2001 – just after 9/11 – he and the UN jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize, ‘for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.’ These and other crucial events – including the crises over Kosovo and East Timor, and the war in Iraq – are encapsulated in this book of Kofi Annan’s key speeches from throughout his term of office. The selection gives a broad view of Annan’s most pressing concerns, and the eloquence with which he addressed them. Covering subjects from development, health, and climate change to the prevention of genocide and the ideal of diversity, these statements show how deeply involved the UN was in the most important issues of the era. We the Peoples is a timely and much-needed reminder of Annan’s ideas and priorities; his words on war, peace, humanity, and ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ still resonate today. This book will offer many pointers for maintaining and developing the UN as a vital instrument for humanity in the coming decades.

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  • Sievers, L., and S. Daws, The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 4th ed., Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    Sievers, L., and S. Daws, The Procedure of the UN Security Council (4th ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    The Procedure of the UN Security Council is the definitive book of its kind and has been widely used by UN practitioners and scholars for nearly 40 years.  This comprehensively revised edition contains over 450 pages of new material documenting the extensive and rapid innovations in the Council’s procedures of the past two decades. A one-stop handbook and guide, with meticulous referencing, this book has served diplomats, UN staff and scholars alike in providing unique insight into the inside workings of the world’s preeminent body for the maintenance of international peace and security. Thoroughly grounded in the history and politics of the Council, it brings to life the ways the Council has responded through its working methods to a changing world. The book explains the Council’s role in its wider UN Charter context and examines its relations with other UN organs and with its own subsidiary bodies.  This includes the remarkable expansion in UN peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions, sanctions and counter-terrorism bodies, and international legal tribunals. It contains detailed analysis of voting and decision-taking by the Council, as well as the place, format, and conduct of meetings.  It also seeks to illuminate the personalities behind the Council’s work – ranging from the diplomats who sit on the Council itself to the UN Secretary-General, and those outside the Council affected by its decisions. It concludes with reflections on the improvements that have made to the Council’s procedures over many decades, and the scope for further reform.

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  • Vreeland, J.R., and A. Dreher, The Political Economy of the United Nations Security Council: Money and Influence, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Vreeland, J.R., and A. Dreher, The Political Economy of the United Nations Security Council: Money and Influence, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Trades of money for political influence persist at every level of government. Not surprisingly, governments themselves trade money for political support on the international stage. Strange, however, is the tale of this book. For, in this study, legitimacy stands as the central political commodity at stake. The book investigates the ways governments trade money for favors at the United Nations Security Council – the body endowed with the international legal authority to legitimize the use of armed force to maintain or restore peace. With a wealth of quantitative data, the book shows that powerful countries, such as the United States, Japan, and Germany, extend financial favors to the elected members of the Security Council through direct foreign aid and through international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In return, developing countries serving on the Security Council must deliver their political support …or face the consequences

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  • Popovski, V., and T. Fraser (eds.), The Security Council as Global Legislator, London, Routledge, 2014.

    Popovski, V., and T. Fraser (eds.), The Security Council as Global Legislator, London, Routledge, 2014.

    Security Council resolutions have undergone an important evolution over the last two decades. While continuing its traditional role of determining state-specific threats to peace and engaging accordingly in various peaceful or coercive measures, the Security Council has also adopted resolutions that have effectively imposed legal obligations on all United Nations member states. This book seeks to move away from the discussions of whether the Security Council – in the current composition and working methods – is representative, capable or productive. Rather it assesses whether legislative activity by the Security Council can be beneficial to international peace and security. The authors examine and critique the capacities of the Security Council to address thematic international threats – such as terrorism, weapons proliferations, targeting of civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, piracy – as an alternative to the traditional model of addressing country-specific situations on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, the book seeks to assess the efficacy of the Security Council as global legislator in terms of complementing the Security Council’s mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security with a preventative and norm-setting capacity. The book presents views from a diverse range of Security Council stakeholders including academic scholars, political analysts, and international lawyers.

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  • Weinlich, S., The UN Secretariat's Influence on the Evolution of Peacekeeping, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

    Weinlich, S., The UN Secretariat's Influence on the Evolution of Peacekeeping, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

    Do international bureaucracies have a meaningful influence on world politics? Using the UN Secretariat and the evolution of UN peacekeeping as an example, this book shows that even international bureaucracies with limited autonomy can shape international politics. Peace operations are the UN’s flagship activity. Over the past decades, UN Blue Helmets have been sent all over the globe and have been performing an expanding set of intrusive tasks, while being supported by increasingly professional institutional structures. Silke Weinlich covers these operational, conceptual and institutional dimensions and focuses on three specific decisions that have been crucial to the evolution of UN peacekeeping: the establishment of the UN transitional administration in East Timor, the development of a peacekeeping doctrine, and the establishment of the Standing Police Capacity. With its integrative framework of analysis, this book makes a valuable contribution to the debate on the agency of international organisations.

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  • Genser, J. and B. Stagno Ugarte (eds.), The United Nations Security Council in the Age of Human Rights, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Genser, J., and B. Stagno Ugarte (eds.), The United Nations Security Council in the Age of Human Rights, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    This is the first comprehensive look at the human rights dimensions of the work of the only body within the United Nations system capable of compelling action by its member states. Known popularly for its failure to prevent mass atrocities in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Syria, the breadth and depth of the Security Council’s work on human rights in recent decades is much broader. This book examines questions including: how is the Security Council dealing with human rights concerns? What does it see as the place of human rights in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacekeeping? And how does it address the quest for justice in the face of gross violations of human rights? Written by leading practitioners, scholars and experts, this book provides a broad perspective that describes, explains and evaluates the contribution of the Security Council to the promotion of human rights and how it might more effectively achieve its goals.

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  • Weiss, T.G. (et al.), The United Nations and Changing World Politics, 7th ed., Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2014.

    Weiss, T.G. (et al.), The United Nations and Changing World Politics (7th ed.), Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2014.

    This completely revised and updated seventh edition serves as the definitive text for courses in which the United Nations is either the focus or a central component. Built around three critical themes in international relations—peace and security, human rights, and humanitarian affairs—the seventh edition of The United Nations and Changing World Politics guides students through the complexity of politics and almost seven decades of UN activities. Students of all levels will learn what the UN is, how it operates, and what its relationships are with the universe of external actors and institutions, from sovereign states to the plethora of nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations now playing important roles in world politics. This new edition is fully revised to take into account recent events, including the UN’s actions in Libya and Syria, the tenure of Ban Ki-moon, the global economic and financial meltdown, and efforts to confront nuclear proliferation and climate change.

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Database

Subscription-based

The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (MPEPIL) is a comprehensive online resource containing over 1600 peer-reviewed articles on every aspect of public international law. It has been re-designed to improve the look and feel of the site, and the search functionality. Written and edited by an incomparable team of over 800 scholars and practitioners, published in partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, and updated throughout the year. All included articles are peer-reviewed and treat international law from a global/regional perspective. This major reference work is essential for anyone researching or teaching international law.

Free Access

The Official Document System of the United Nations (ODS) comprises the full text of United Nations parliamentary documents (including resolutions and decisions) issued at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the United Nations Office in Geneva since 1993 as well as at the United Nations Office in Vienna since 1997. They include pre-session, in-session and post-session documentation for meetings of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies and the Trusteeship Council, and for global conferences convened by the United Nations as well as for other meetings included in the Calendar of Conferences and Meetings authorized by the General Assembly. The documents and official records are stored in the official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Selected documents are available in German. Older UN documents are added to the system on a daily basis. The resolutions database, accessible only from the Advanced Search screen, contains the final official records version of all United Nations resolutions and decisions adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 up to and including 1993 (for General Assembly up to the 51st session of 1996). The system does not contain press releases, UN sales publications, United Nations Treaty Series or information brochures issued by the Department of Public Information.

Blogs

  • Hague Academy Model United Nations on Drone Warfare and International Law

    Directed energy weapons, drones, self targeting bullets, mobile tactical high energy lasers, military robots, spy weapons, weapons undetectable under an x-ray scan, remote controlled insect armies, self driving tanks, robotic mules, thermal camouflage, surveillance technologies and autonomous unmanned systems are some examples of the high tech weapons and military technology that are now used during warfare. The use of this state of the art military technology raises serious ethical and legal questions: (when) is the use of drones acceptable?

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  • Dag Hammarskjöld (1905 - 1961)

    Fifty years ago, the former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld tragically passed away in a plane crash, on his way to cease-fire negotiations with the leaders of Katanga province of conflict-ridden Congo.

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  • Conference about ICJ's judgment in the case between Nicaragua and the USA

    In 1986, the International Court of Justice issued its judgment on the merits in a dispute between Nicaragua and the United States of America. Twenty-five years later, members of the legal teams of both Nicaragua and the United States faced each other once again in the Peace Palace.

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  • Libya and the International Criminal Court (ICC)

    On February 16th 2011- following a wave of uprisings throughout the Middle-East- Libya experienced a so-called Day of Rage which led to protests breaking out to challenge Colonel Muammar Qadhafi’s 41 year old iron rule- the region’s longest. This blog will briefly discuss the actions taken by the United Nations Security Council and the ICC in response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Libya.

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  • THIMUN - The Hague Model United Nations Conference (23rd - 28th January 2011)

    The object of THIMUN is to give the youth an insight into the world’s problems and to seek solutions to problems such as human rights issues, environmental protection, disarmament, international peace and security, through negotiations, debate and discussion. The Model United Nations lets young delegates cooperate in order to search for solutions to these problems. This way, THIMUN helps the pupils to develop a spirit of international cooperation

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  • What Future for Western Sahara ?

    There is no prospect of resolving the decades-old conflict between Morocco and the Sahrawi independence movement Polisario on the future of Western Sahara. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, came to this conclusion in a gloomy report, dated 6 April 2010, to the Security Council. Ban Ki-moon reported that “it is clear [...]

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  • The Falkland Islands Conflict

    Tensions between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands came to a boiling point when the UK announced plans to begin offshore oil drilling near the remote islands in February 2010. This blog will briefly discuss this complicated dispute as well as the actions taken by both parties in the United Nations General Assembly.

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  • International Conference on Afghanistan, The Hague, 31 March 2009

    On 31 March 2009, the Dutch government is hosting the ´International Conference on Afghanistan: a Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context´ at the World Forum in The Hague.

    Building on the achievements of previous Conferences in Bonn, London and Paris, this Conference should reaffirm the solid and long-term commitment of the international community to [...]

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  • United Nations Day, 24 October 2008

    On 24 October 2008, the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter was celebrated. Since 1948 this event has been known as United Nations Day. It has traditionally been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the Organization. At the UN Headquarters [...]

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See also

More Research guides on International Organizations and Relations

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