The curriculum unit The United Nations: Challenges and Change introduces students to the idea of "collective security," tracing the emergence of the League of Nations to the formation of the United Nations.

Videos for Readings: The videos below follow the outline of the printed curriculum unit. The headings correspond to the headings in the student readings.

Videos for Lessons accompany lessons in the teacher's guide of the printed curriculum unit.

Scholars Online: Videos for Readings

The United Nations: Challenges and Change


Susan Allee
Brown University

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro
Brown University

Ricardo Lagos
Former President of Chile

David Kennedy
David Kennedy
Brown University

P. Terrence Hopmann
P. Terrence Hopmann
Brown University

Jarat Chopra
Jarat Chopra
Brown University

Dennis Davis
Dennis Davis
High Court of South Africa

Part I: The UN and the International Community

What is international law? [David Kennedy - 0:55]

How has international law evolved? [David Kennedy - 1:40]

What makes international law effective? [David Kennedy - 1:14]

The UN Takes Shape

How does membership in the UN promote human rights? [Susan Allee - 1:14]

Fundamental Principles of the UN Charter

Why is there a tension between state sovereignty and international law? [David Kennedy - 1:20]

The Structure of the UN

What are some of the effective programs of the UN? [P. Terrence Hopmann - 1:08]

How has the "veto" affected the UN? [P. Terrence Hopmann - 1:14]

How did the U.S. relationship with the UN change after the Cold War? [P. Terrence Hopmann - 2:23]

Part II: Debating the UN’s Role

What is your perspective on the priorities and structure of the United Nations? [Ricardo Lagos - 1:30]

Security Council

What are unilateralism, bilateralism, and multilateralism? [P. Terrence Hopmann - 0:57]

What are the advantages and disadvantages of multilateralism? [P. Terrence Hopmann - 1:45]

What is an example of effective multilateralism? [P. Terrence Hopmann - 1:59]

Why are there permanent seats in the UN Security Council? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:05]

Is the UN a democratic organization? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:25]

What is civil society? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 0:31]

How has the 2003 invasion of Iraq affected the United States' reputation within the UN? [P. Terrence Hopmann - 1:21]


Is the United Nations an effective peacekeeping body? [Susan Allee - 3:00]

How do peacekeepers maintain impartiality? [Susan Allee - 2:30]

What makes peacekeeping in the Middle East challenging? [Susan Allee - 2:32]

What are examples of successful peacekeeping operations? [Susan Allee - 2:30]

What are examples of unsuccessful peacekeeping operations? [Susan Allee - 1:52]


What is ethnic cleansing? [Susan Allee - 0:52]

What is the difference between genocide and ethnic cleansing? [Susan Allee - 1:08]

How was the UN involved in Bosnian peacekeeping? [Susan Allee - 1:42]

How was the UN military intervention in the former Yugoslavia significant? [Jarat Chopra - 1:12]

What countries had sympathies with different groups in Yugoslavia? [Susan Allee - 1:14]

How did NATO’s intervention in Bosnia set a precedent? [Susan Allee - 1:23]

Timor Leste

When has the UN been successful in alleviating human rights abuses? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:20]

What were important lessons of the UN intervention in East Timor? [Jarat Chopra - 1:59]

Humanitarian Aid and Development

How was the use of military force to protect civilians in northern Iraq in 1991 significant? [Jarat Chopra - 1:25]

How did the events in Somalia dampen the enthusiasm for U.S. humanitarian intervention? [Jarat Chopra - 2:34]

The UN and Human Rights

What are human rights? [Susan Allee - 2:12]

What are human rights? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:14]

Are states today closer or farther apart in their understanding of human rights? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:27]

How does membership in the UN promote human rights? [Susan Allee - 1:14]

How does law protect human rights? [Dennis Davis - 2:05]

What is the relationship between international human rights law and state sovereignty? [Dennis Davis – 2:03]

What is the UN authorized to do when human rights are violated? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:44]

How can the UN and other international organizations prevent human rights abuses? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:21]

Why did the UN reform its system of dealing with human rights in 2006? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 0:56]

How do other states view the U.S. human rights record? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:54]

How are international courts becoming more important in addressing human rights abuses? [Dennis Davis – 1:48]

In 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's president. Why is this a challenge to human rights law? [Dennis Davis - 2:57]

Humanitarian Crisis in Darfur, Sudan

When do human rights abuses become genocide? [Susan Allee - 2:25]

When has the UN been unsuccessful in alleviating human rights abuses? [Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro - 1:01]