Chapter 9: International organizations in conflict resolution

On the United Nations

There is a considerable literature on the UN, but rarely is it as analytical as one would like. However, there are two books that are in a category of their own:

T.G. Weiss, D.P. Forsythe, R.A. Coate and K.K. Pease 2014. The United Nations and Changing World Politics. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Now in its seventh edition this work is an indispensable and comprehensive introduction to the work of the UN with regard to security, human rights and development.

Lloyd Axworthy 2001. ‘Human Security and Global Governance: Putting People First’, Global Governance, 7 (1): 19–23, the former Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, outlines the concept of human security. It was guiding Canadian approaches to the UN during the Liberal government and had an impact on UN affairs.

High Level Panel 2004. A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility. Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, United Nations. This high-level panel, appointed by Kofi Annan as UN Secretary-General, produced one of the most ambitious public reports to reform the UN system since the end of the Cold War. Its recommendations span many aspects of what is treated in Chapters 9–11 in Understanding Conflict Resolution, including Security Council reform.

On the security council

Sebastian Einsiedel, D.M. Malone and U.B. Stagno 2015. The Security Council During the 21st Century. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. This is a sequel to a previous volume edited by David M. Malone in 2004, thus updating and further deepening the analysis of the work of the UN Security Council, as the most powerful of the UN organs engaged in peace and security matters.

Relevant may also be Peter Wallensteen 1994. ‘Representing the World: A Security Council for the 21st Century’, Security Dialogue, 25: 63–75. There has been a constant quest for reforms of the Security Council. Very little has happened, but there are ideas. This article outlines logical possibilities for making the Council more representative, without losing its efficiency.

T.G. Weiss and K.E. Young 2005. ‘Compromise and Credibility: Security Council Reform?’ Security Dialogue, 36 (2): 131–54. In this article, the prolific UN observer Thomas G. Weiss and a colleague outline the possibilities and impossibilities of UN Security Council reform.

The UN secretary-general

A general treatment of the UN Secretary-General is by Simon Chesterman (ed.) 2010, Secretary or General? The UN Secretary-General in World Affairs. Cambridge University Press. The same topic is discussed in

There are many good accounts of personal experiences in the UN. A valuable book giving the perspective from the top organ is the following: Kofi Annan and Nader Mousavizadeh 2012. Interventions: A Life in War and Peace. Penguin Books. In this work, the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan (at the helm of the UN 1997–2006) gives an account of his early days in Ghana, as well as his many years in various positions in the United Nations. It gives an eye-opening perspective of the organization from the inside.

Regional organizations

Compared to the extensive work on the UN, there is less comparing regional organizations, their strengths and weaknesses with respect to peace and security. Most recent is a collection of chapters dealing in particular with EU, OSCE, AU, ECOWAS and the League of Arab States:

P. Wallensteen and A. Bjurner (eds.) 2015. Regional Organizations and Peacemaking. Challengers to the UN? London: Routledge. This book outlines the role regional organizations can play in peacemaking. Thus, its contributions are relevant also for the aspects developed in Chapters 9, 10 and 11.