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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 Research 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 classification index code 54e. United Nations and subject heading (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.
- Cot, J.-P. et A. Pellet (dir.), La Charte des Nations Unies en 2 volumes: commentaire article par article, Paris, Economica, 2005.
- Chestermans, S., Th. Franck and D. Malone, Law and Practice of the United Nations: Documents and Commentary, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Goodrich, M., E. Hambro, and A. Simons, Charter of the United Nations: Commentary and Documents, New York, NY, Columbia University Press, 1969.
- Hassler, S., Reforming the UN Security Council Membership: The Illusion of Representativeness, London, Routledge, 2013.
- Moore, J. and J. Pubantz, Encyclopedia of the United Nations, New York, Facts on File, 2008.
- Osmanczyk, E. and A. Mango, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements, New York, NY, Routledge, 2003.
- Volger, H., A Concise Encyclopedia of the United Nations, Leiden, Nĳhoff, 2010.
- Weiss, Th. and S. Daws (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007.
- Wet, E. de, The Chapter VII Powers of the United Nations Security Council, Oxford, Hart, 2004.
- Alston, P., “The United Nations: No Hope for Reform?”, in A. Cassese (ed.), Realizing Utopia: the Future of International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 38-51.
- Blavoukos, S., and D. Bourantonis, “The UN Security Council Reform Debate”, in K.E. Jørgensen and K.V. Laatikainen (eds.), Routledge Handbook on the European Union and International Institutions : Performance, Policy, Power, London, Routledge, 2013, pp. 128-140.
- Eitel, T., “The UN Oligarchs and their Privileges”, in H.P. Hestermeyer (ed.), Coexistence, Cooperation and Solidarity: Liber Amicorum Rüdiger Wolfrum, Part 2, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2012, pp. 1439-1461.
- Feighery, T.J., “The United Nations Compensation Commission”, in C. Giorgetti (ed.), The Rules, Practice, and Jurisprudence of International Courts and Tribunals, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2012, pp. 515-543.
- Majinge, C.R., “The United Nations and the Future of the Rule of Law”, Journal of African and International Law, 3 (2010), No. 2, pp. 457-487.
- Suy, E., “Certain Other Perspectives for a Reform of the United Nations Security Council”, in E.R. Rieter, H. de Waele and K.C. Wellens (eds.), Evolving Principles of International Law: Studies in Honour of Karel C. Wellens, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2012, pp. 91-101.
- Szewczyk, B.M.J., “Variable Multipolarity and U.N. Security Council Reform”, Harvard International Law Journal, 53 (2012), No. 2, pp. 449-504.
- Thakur, R., “Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations: Global Governance Venue or Actor?”, in J.P. Muldoon (ed.), The New Dynamics of Multilateralism: Diplomacy, International Organizations, and Global Governance, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2011, pp. 249-265.
- Tottten, S., “Aspects and Components of the United Nations that Constitute Impediments to the Prevention and Intervention of Genocide”, in S. Totten (ed.), Impediments to the Prevention and Intervention of Genocide, New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers, 2013, pp. 133-165.
- Wouters, J. and P. Schmitt, “Challenging Acts of Other United Nations’ Organs, Subsidiary Organs, and Officials”, in A. Reinisch (ed.), Challenging Acts of International Organizations before National Courts, Oxford [etc.], Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 77-110.
- Official Document System of the United Nations
- United Nations General Assembly Resolutions
- United Nations Security Council Resolutions
- United Nations Treaty Collection
- United Nations Bibliographic Information System
Periodicals, serial publications
- United Nations Chronicle
- Yearbook of the United Nations
- Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs
- Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law
1. United Nations at a glance
2. The Term of Office of the United Nations Secretary-General
Electronic article available in library.
Electronic book available in library.
1. United Nations at a glance
United Nations at a glance / [United Nations]. - New York, NY : United Nations, cop. 2013. - VI, 217 p. : ill. ; 26 cm United Nations publication. - Sales no. E.11.I.16. - 2013
Keywords: United Nations, Manuals,
Keywords: United Nations, Manuals,
2. The Term of Office of the United Nations Secretary-General
The Term of Office of the United Nations Secretary-General / James Crawford. - Leiden : Nijhoff In: Le 90e anniversaire de Boutros Boutros-Ghalie : hommage du Curatorium à son Président / Académie de Droit international de la Haye = The 90th Birthday of Boutros Boutros-Ghali : Tribute of the Curatorium to its President / Hague Academy of International Law, ISBN 9789004246188: (2012) - 2012
Keywords: United Nations, Secretary-General,
Keywords: United Nations, Secretary-General,
These publications are selected for you by H. Thijssen.
Hassler, S., Reforming the UN Security Council Membership: The Illusion of Representativeness, London, Routledge, 2013.
This book comprehensively examines the different proposals put forward for reforming the UN Security Council by analysing their objectives and exploring whether the implementation of these proposals would actually create a representative and more effective Security Council. The book places the discussion on reform of Security Council membership in the context of the council’s primary responsibility, which is at the helm of the UN collective security system. The author contends that only a Council that is adequately representative of the UN membership can claim to legitimately act on the members’ behalf. This book offers an inquiry into the Council’s constitutional framework and how far that framework still reflects the expectations and intentions of the founding nations, whilst remaining flexible enough to satisfy today’s, and possibly tomorrow’s, membership. Through the use of policy-oriented jurisprudence and elements of the International Law/International Relations theory this book explores how reform can best be realised.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Plate, T., Conversations with Ban Ki-moon: What the United Nations is Really Like: The View from the Top, Singapore, Marshall Cavendish, 2012. Showcase item
“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.”View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
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.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
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.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
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.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Tzanakopoulos, A., Disobeying the Security Council, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011.
Also available as Fulltext e-book inside Peace Palace Library
This book examines how the United Nations Security Council, in exercising its power to impose binding non-forcible measures (‘sanctions’) under Article 41 of the UN Charter, may violate international law, i.e., limits on its power imposed by the UN Charter itself and by general international law, including human rights guarantees. Such acts may engage the international responsibility of the United Nations, the organization of which the Security Council is an organ.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Law and Practice of the United Nations : Documents and Commentary
Law & Practice of the United Nations: Documents and Commentary combines primary materials with expert commentary, demonstrating the interaction between law and practice in the UN organization, as well as the possibilities and limitations of multilateral institutions in general. Each chapter begins with a short introductory essay by the authors that describes how the documents that follow illustrate a set of legal, institutional, and political issues relevant to the practice of diplomacy and the development of public international law through the United Nations.
The authors help students form a realistic idea of the work of international diplomacy, as the negotiation and interpretation of such texts is an important part of what actually takes place at the United Nations and other international organizations. A wide variety of documents are presented, each of which must be read differently: treaties and resolutions based on political compromises, judicial opinions that are based on legal reasoning, policy documents intended to justify specific actions, and advocacy intended to pursue a national or other interest. Students will develop the ability to read these documents critically, parsing not only the meaning but the political and bureaucratic interests behind them.
Law & Practice of the United Nations is ideal for courses on the United Nations or International Organizations, taught in both law and international relations programs.Thomas Franck, Simon Chesterman and David Malone , 2007
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La Charte des Nations Unies en 2 volumes : Commentaire article par article
Signée le 26 juin 1945, entrée en vigueur le 4 octobre suivant, la Charte des Nations Unies a 60 ans. Si les résultats sont, à l’évidence, en deçà des espérances, l’action des Etats, la force propre des institutions, la souplesse du texte, ont permis aux Nations Unies de s’adapter aux exigences changeantes des relations internationales en dépit des mutations considérables qui ont marqué ces 60 dernières années : guerre froide, décolonisation, recherche d’un développement durable, menaces nucléaire et du terrorisme… Cette remarquable faculté d’adaptation, le miracle permanent que constitue l’existence même de l’Organisation, l’influence qu’elle continue d’exercer en dépit des tentations de l’unilatéralisme, justifient une étude d’ensemble de la Charte, dans une perspective juridique, à la lumière de la pratique. Sous la direction de Jean-Pierre Cot et Alain Pellet, 129 juristes – parmi lesquels 3 anciens Présidents, le Vice-Président et 2 juges à la Cour internationale de Justice, plusieurs ministres ou anciens ministres, de nombreux fonctionnaires internationaux ou diplomates familiers des Nations unies, des membres de la Commission du Droit international et une pléiade d’universitaires et de chercheurs – venant de 24 pays, mais tous francophones et se réclamant de la tradition juridique latine, ont uni leurs efforts pour faire le point des connaissances actuelles sur les Nations Unies. Comme les deux éditions précédentes, celle-ci se présente sous la forme d’un commentaire article par article, soigneusement mis à jour : mais elle a été enrichie de contributions abordant des sujets transversaux qui ne trouvent pas place dans le commentaire d’une disposition déterminée.Jean-Pierre Cot and Alain Pellet , 2005
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Spijkers, O., The United Nations, the Evolution of Global Values and International Law, Cambridge (etc.), Intersentia, 2011.
In this book, Otto Spijkers describes how moral values have determined the founding of the United Nations Organization in 1945 and the evolution of its purposes, principles and policies since then. A detailed examination of the proceedings of the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco demonstrates that the drafting of the United Nations Charter was significantly influenced by global moral values, i.e. globally shared beliefs distinguishing right from wrong, good from bad, and the current from a preferable state-of-the-world. A common desire to eradicate war, poverty, inhuman treatment, and to halt the exploitation of peoples, has led to an affirmation of the values of peace and security, social progress and development, human dignity and the self-determination of all peoples. All these values ended up in the UN Charter. The book further analyzes how the United Nations, and especially its General Assembly, has continued to influence the maturing of global morality through contributions to the values-debate, and to the translation of these values into the language of international law, including the law on the use of force, sustainable development, human rights and the right to self-determination.
- Heinonline, United Nations Law.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (MPEPIL), United Nations (UN), by Jochen A. Frowein.
- MPEPIL, United Nations, Specialized Agencies, by Eckart Klein.
- MPEPIL, United Nations, Purposes and Principles, by Pierre d’Argent and Nadine Susani.
- MPEPIL, United Nations Charter, Amendment, by Ingo Winkelmann.
- MPEPIL, United Nations Charter, Interpretation, by Philip Kunig.
- MPEPIL, United Nations Committees and Subsidiary Bodies, System of, by Beate Rudolf.
- United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law – Lecture Series, United Nations.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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 cooperationRead more
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 [...]Read more
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.Read more
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 [...]Read more
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 [...]Read more
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- Research guide United Nations Peace Palace Library
- Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM) -
- UN Office for Outer Space Affairs
- UN-Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)
- Yearbook of the International Law Commission
- United Nations Juridical Yearbook
- DagDok: Welcome to DagDok
- United Nations Diplomatic Conferences
- Special Tribunal for Lebanon
- Human Rights Council - Homepage
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