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.

Online publications released during September/October 2014

Gostin, Lawrence O., and Eric Friedman, “Ebola: A Crisis in Global Health Leadership” (October 2014), Lancet, 384 (2014), pp.1323-1325.
Abstract: At the core of the present Ebola crisis in West Africa is a lack of global health leadership. WHO should be the global health leader, following its constitutional charge, yet it is significantly under-resourced, having a direct effect on its rapid response capacity. The Organization’s response to this crisis has been constantly …

Talmon, Stefan A. G., “The Legalizing and Legitimizing Function of UN General Assembly Resolutions” (October 2014). AJIL Unbound, 18 July 2014; Bonn Research Papers on Public International Law No 8/2014.
Abstract: Larry Johnson recently called for more thought to be given to “innovative and inventive non-use of force measures which the UN General Assembly could employ in situations where the Security Council has been blocked”. This paper considers the possible impact of such resolutions given the limits of the General …

Bosco, David L., “Assessing the UN Security Council: A Concert Approach” (October 2014), Global Governance, 20 (2014), pp. 545-561.
Abstract: This article distinguishes between the UN Security Council’s “governance” and “concert” functions and argues that the latter is important in assessing the body’s diplomatic value. It presents data suggesting that serving together on the Council deepens diplomatic linkages between permanent members. It also argues …

Farrall, Jeremy M., “Rule of Accountability or Rule of Law? Regulating the UN Security Council’s Accountability Deficits” (September 2014), Journal of Conflict Security Law, 19 (2014); RegNet Research Paper No. 2014/45.
Abstract: This article examines how the attempt to pursue Security Council accountability relates to parallel efforts to strengthen the rule of law. The article argues that accountability and the rule of law are closely connected and that steps to promote one have the potential to reinforce initiatives that promote the other. …

 

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.


1. Histoire de la Direction des Nations Unies et des organisations internationales
Histoire de la Direction des Nations Unies et des organisations internationales / Nicolas de Rivière. - Paris : Editions A. Pedone In: La France et le droit international / sous la direction de Gérard Cahin, Florence Poirat, Sandra Szurek, ISBN 9782233007032: vol. 2. - 2014
Keywords: France, International organizations, United Nations, International relations, Diplomacy, Foreign policy,

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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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  • Schwartzberg, J.E., Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, Tokyo, United Nations University Press, 2013.

    Schwartzberg, J.E., Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, Tokyo, United Nations University Press, 2013.

    Global problems require global solutions. However, the United Nations, as presently constituted, is incapable of addressing many global problems effectively. One nation-one vote decision-making in most UN agencies fails to reflect the distribution of power in the world at large, while the allocation of power in the Security Council is both unfair and anachronistic. Hence, nations are reluctant to endow the UN with the authority and the resources it needs. This book is rooted in the proposition that the design of decision-making systems greatly affects their legitimacy and effectiveness. It proposes numerous systemic improvements, largely through weighted voting formulae that balance the needs of shareholders and stakeholders in diverse UN agencies. It indicates ways by which the interests of regions can supplement those of nations and by which the voices of non-governmental organisations and ordinary citizens can also be heard. In numerous contexts, it promotes meritocracy and gender equity.

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

    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. Showcase item

    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 [2013].

    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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  • Plate, T., Conversations with Ban Ki-moon: What the United Nations is Really Like: The View from the Top, Singapore, Marshall Cavendish, 2012.

    Plate, T., Conversations with Ban Ki-moon: What the United Nations is Really Like: The View from the Top, Singapore, Marshall Cavendish, 2012.

    “Only eight people have been privileged to hold the job of Secretary General since the United Nations’ founding in 1945. And only one of them has ever told the inside story of the UN while still holding that special office. That man is Ban Ki-moon, the veteran diplomat and former star foreign minister of South Korea now in his second term as ‘SG.’ Because he understands that the UN is in crisis — and because he fears the reasons for this are not widely understood — he believes it is time to unveil the truth about the organization and explain why its failure would be a catastrophe. The result, via unprecedented conversations with American journalist Tom Plate, is a deeply revealing book about the kinds of issues and challenges whose resolutions (or lack thereof) will in fact determine the future of the world.”

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  • Simma, B. (ed.), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.

    Simma, B. (ed.), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.

    Since the second edition of this commentary on the Charter of the United Nations was published the text of the Charter may not have changed but the world has. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a lasting impact on international law and the Commentary has been fully updated to take their impact into account. The new edition has been completely revised and features a completely new chapter on UN reform, analyzing the effect of reforms which have already been implemented and examining why other proposals for reform have failed. It will assess how these proposals could be improved, with a particular focus on the Security Council. This new edition also includes coverage of the creation of the Human Rights Council and the impact of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. This is the authoritative, article-by-article account of the legislative history, interpretation, and practical application of each and every Charter provision. Written by a team of distinguished scholars and practitioners, this book combines academic research with the insights of practice, and is an indispensable work of reference for all those interested in the UN. The Commentary will be crucial in providing new directions for the development of international law and the United Nations in the twenty-first century.

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  • Annan, K.A., Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, London, Allen Lane, 2012.

    Annan, K.A., Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, London, Allen Lane, 2012.
    Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2001, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to a world still reeling from the terrorist attacks of September 11. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” proclaimed Annan, “we have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further—we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations, or regions.” Yet within only a few years the world was more divided than ever—polarized by the American invasion of Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the escalating civil wars in Africa, and the rising influence of China. Interventions: A Life in War and Peace is the story of Annan’s remarkable time at the center of the world stage. After forty years of service at the United Nations, Annan shares here his unique experiences during the terrorist attacks of September 11; the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the war between Israel, Hizbollah, and Lebanon; the brutal conflicts of Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia; and the geopolitical transformations following the end of the Cold War. With eloquence and unprecedented candor, Interventions finally reveals Annan’s unique role and unparalleled perspective on decades of global politics. The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General, Annan has led an extraordinary life in his own right. His idealism and personal politics were forged in the Ghanaian independence movement of his adolescence, when all of Africa seemed to be rising as one to demand self-determination. Schooled in Africa, Europe, and the United States, Annan ultimately joined the United Nations in Geneva at the lowest professional level in the still young organization. Annan rose rapidly through the ranks and was by the end of the Cold War prominently placed in the dramatically changing department of peacekeeping operations. His stories of Presidents Clinton and Bush, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, and public figures of all stripes contrast powerfully with Annan’s descriptions of the courage and decency of ordinary people everywhere struggling for a new and better world. Showing the successes of the United Nations, Annan also reveals the organization’s missed opportunities and ongoing challenges—inaction in the Rwanda genocide, continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the endurance of endemic poverty. Yet Annan’s great strength in this book is his ability to embed these tragedies within the context of global politics, demonstrating how, time and again, the nations of the world have retreated from the UN’s founding purpose. From the pinnacle of global politics, Annan made it his purpose to put the individual at the center of every mission for peace and prosperity. A personal biography of global statecraft, Annan’s Interventions is as much a memoir as a guide to world order—past, present, and future.
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  • Anderson, K. Living with the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order, Stanford, CA, Hoover Institution Press, 2012.

    Anderson, K. Living with the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order, Stanford, CA, Hoover Institution Press, 2012.

    In this book international legal scholar Kenneth Anderson analyzes US-UN relations in each major aspect of the United Nations’ work—security, human rights, universal values, and development—and addresses the crucial question of whether, when, and how the United States should engage or not engage with the United Nations in each of its many different organs and activities. The author looks at the main United Nations organs and functions and suggests the form of engagement that the United States should take toward it, giving workable, pragmatic meaning to “multilateral engagement” across the full range of the United Nations’ work. He offers principles for a permanent relationship based on ideals and interests between the United States and the United Nations—and provides guidance for long-term US policy.

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Database

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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