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Über dieses Buch

Before the UN could be created the idea of a global body dedicated to the preservation of peace had first to be imagined. The book traces the evolution of a complex web of ideas that emerged from the ancient world concerning the need for a governing body to control the actions of sovereign nations.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
The idea for this book came to me while teaching a graduate course on the United Nations (UN). I had to recommend an introductory text that took the UN story further back than the doomed League of Nations. I could not find one. Paul Kennedy, in the most popular of these histories, The Parliament of Man: The Past Present and Future of the United Nations , spends just two paragraphs in his first chapter going through some of that prehistory. Kennedy dismisses the efforts of the Greek city-states to confederate and the various Enlightenment proposals to propose bodies that would settle disputes as “devices to chain national egoism.” Mazower, in his book No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations, looks to the ways Britain, suffering from its diminished world role in the wake of the enormous economic cost of the Second World War, and America that was ever eager to take its place in the world as the up-and-coming superpower, sought to establish a new Anglophone-controlled world order.
Laurence Peters

1. Collective Security: The Classical Legacy

Abstract
Peace scholars have generally categorized societies in terms of whether they hold either positive or negative versions of peace. Negative peace is, as the phrase implies, the absence or avoidance of war—secured by deterrence—while positive peace can be described as a society that adheres to notions of equality between peoples and social harmony based on shared notions of justice. Loosely speaking, the positive expressions of peace have been more prominently illustrated by the major religious movements found in the Asiatic societies (Hinduism, Buddhism) and the negative version expressed most clearly by the Western tradition that begins with the ancient Greeks. The negative view of peace relates more to the role of states in relation to their neighbors, and the positive one is grounded in personal values that relate to the formation of individuals’ duty to maintain harmonious communities. One way to view the United Nations (UN) is to see it as the product of these two traditions. The aspirational positive peace language of the UN Preamble that refers to “We the peoples of the United Nations to practice tolerance and live together in peace as good neighbors” coexists uneasily with the first paragraph of Article 1 of the charter that references the need to “maintain international peace and security” by taking “effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.”1
Laurence Peters

2. A Global Forum Dedicated to the Prevention of Conflict: The Visionary Architects

Abstract
Before such a far-fetched idea like the United Nations (UN) could exist, a body devoted to peaceful resolution of disputes first had to be imagined—a far more difficult task than it would seem because despite centuries of religious valorization of peace, no society had been able to avoid the endless repetition of war. Most people through the ages could be forgiven for thinking that war was, if not God-given, a natural fact of life. After all, it was supported by the key institutions of most ages, the crown and church, both of which were able to neuter any dissenting voice by either exile, excommunication, or worse. It was no wonder that the first thinkers to do the imagining of what a potential alternative to war was were intellectuals on the fringes of the society, obscure monks and clergymen, and one or two amateur philosophers. These small number of European intellectuals were eager to seek alternatives to constant war and busied themselves in designing imaginative “peace projects”— forums where the world’s rulers could sit down with each other and negotiate their way to resolving conflict peacefully. The designs they came up over roughly five hundred years constitute, as one writer suggests, “a largely undervalued intellectual tradition.”1
Laurence Peters

3. Balancing the Powers: Kant’s Key Contribution

Abstract
In this chapter we address Kant’s doctrine regarding his critical balance of power theory that formed the basis for his vision for a federated group of governments that would govern the world. In Chapter Eight, where we discuss the rise of the human rights movement, we will address the great German philosopher’s ideas about the treatment of all human beings, regardless of their citizenship, as he develops his doctrine of cosmopolitanism. Kant’s contributions in these two areas are nothing short of seminal in the conception of the United Nations (UN).
Laurence Peters

4. The Rise of International Law: The Decisive Contribution of Hugo Grotius

Abstract
The modern-day UN Charter relies on the rule of international law to bind states to accept the will of the Security Council. As a multilateral convention, the charter imposes a treaty obligation on its members but although sovereign governments still get to decide whether to execute UN resolutions or not, their basis in international law is not often challenged. The UN relies on two kinds of dispute resolution—the International Court of Justice, of which 65 states have accepted compulsory jurisdiction; and the arbitration powers given under the charter to the Security Council.1 The roots of this twofold division date back to antiquity and this chapter traces the emergence of the first forms of international law and the way that a key thinker in this field, Hugo Grotius, helped organize an inchoate mass of legal precedents that flowed from the courts of arbitration and shaped them into a body of international law capable of serving as the binding force behind the United Nations (UN).
Laurence Peters

5. Sovereignty: The UN and the Westphalian Legacy

Abstract
The 50 international delegates who assembled in 1945 in San Francisco to vote on the UN Charter recognized that there the international system that had produced two world wars in the space of 30 years needed to be radically rethought. What they were not sure about was what type of governing body would emerge—would it be a dictatorship of the big five who would run roughshod over the small powers’ hard-won efforts to establish their own independence, or would it be another global debating chamber, as impotent in the face of crisis as the discredited League of Nations?
Laurence Peters

6. The UN and the Rise of the Humanitarian Tradition

Abstract
Today, we take it for granted that given a humanitarian crisis, of which there have been more than a few in recent years, the United Nations (UN) will step in. There are no less than five UN agencies with humanitarian mandates—the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). The total budget of these agencies amounted to $7.1 billion in 2010, with over half being taken by the WFP alone, which manages $3.2 billion. This humanitarian aid budget now equals 31 percent of the total UN budget, with an additional 23 percent expended on health, education, and water sanitation.1 It was not always so. The founders intended the UN to be primarily an organization dedicated to resolving conflict and only marginally attending to the issues that might raise conflict.2 How did the UN get itself so involved in what could be loosely termed relief work?
Laurence Peters

7. The Peaceful Settlement of Disputes

Abstract
Article One Paragraph One States the UN Objective as Follows:
To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.
Laurence Peters

8. The Development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Abstract
When the US Department of State committee that was authorized to work on plans for the United Nations (UN) first produced its Outline Plan to the President in 1943, there was no mention made of human rights. Human rights concerns were assumed to be included under the organizations’ general purpose, then conceived as promoting “through cooperative effort the social advancement of nations and peoples.” The big three powers (the United States, USSR, and the United Kingdom) were more concerned about making sure any international body did nothing to affect their sovereignty—international law (following the Treaty of Westphalia) held that how a nation treated its own people, with some rare exceptions, was basically its own business. The League of Nations had also taken this view despite being made aware of the atrocities of the First World War.
Laurence Peters

Conclusion

Abstract
According to UN experts, the existence of the United Nations (UN) led to “fewer inter-State wars in the last half of the twentieth century than in the first half”—at a time when the number of countries achieving nationhood multiplied. Without the UN, the world would be a far more dangerous and insecure place. We can enumerate its successes: reducing nuclear proliferation, responding to the planets’ major humanitarian crises, alleviating rural poverty, slowing the world’s unsustainable population growth, reducing illiteracy, and prosecuting war criminals. The record of positive change is impressive, even awe-inspiring.
Laurence Peters

Backmatter

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