United Nations


Block 1. Introduction

1.A. Review of international relations theories.

This block introduces (or reviews) the classic state-centric international relations theories and then challenges those principles with the effects of globalization. We review previous attempts like the Concert of Europe and the League of Nations, and their failings, to establish the lessons learned at the birth of the UN. Students will be given a brief survey of the evolution of the UN from birth through the Cold War, decolonization, and post-Cold War eras. Finally, a quick introduction to the principal organs of the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions.

1.B. Antecedents

1.C. World Politics: Continuity and change since 1945.

1.D. The three purposes of the UN and the related international organizations

1.E. Introduction to the principal organs of the UN system

Block 2. Collective Security

2.A. Disarmament

Peace and security is one of the principal purposes of the UN. The UN was founded in a desire to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” With the tragedy of two devastating world wars still in recent memory, peace and security provided the reason for founding the United Nations. Promoting peace and security requires a multifaceted approach, as is indicated by the list to the left. Each of these functions is defined, followed by the responsible organs and the process of policy formulation. Case studies are used for elaboration.

2.B. Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Conflict Prevention, and the International Court of Justice

2.C. Peacekeeping Operations

2.D. Sanctions

2.E. Peace Enforcement

2.F. Humanitarian Intervention

2.G. Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

2.H. Terrorism

Block 3. Human Rights

3.A. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The second principal purpose of the UN is advancement of human rights. That there are universal human rights is somewhat contentious. That an outside body like the UN has authority to intervene into the domestic affairs of a sovereign state is even more contentious. The inclusion of universal human rights establishes an inherent contradiction in the UN charter.

3.B. International Criminal Court and Ad Hoc Tribunals

3.C. Humanitarian Intervention


Block 4. Economic and Social Development

4.A. Bretton Woods

Economic and social development was originally a means to assure the ends of peace and security. Today, development is an end in itself. A massive reconstruction effort followed WWII accompanied by establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions to prevent the conditions that led to the Great Depression and to war. Today’s development includes the promotion of democracy and good government with transparency and accountability—nation building.

4.B. Economic and Social Council

4.C. Nongovernmental Organizations

4.D. Civil Society

4.E. Private Sector

Block 5. United Nations Reforms

5.A. Globalization Effects

This block of instruction concludes the course. A quick review is followed by challenges facing the UN and recommendations for meeting those challenges. Alternatives to the UN are also presented.

5.B. Widening Participation

5.C. Concert of Liberal Democracies

Return to Top of Page

Return to the Class Home Page.