What role should the UN play in international politics?
Fourth edition. February 2014.
The United Nations: Challenges and Change introduces students to the debates about the role of the UN in the world. Today, the United Nations is at the center of world affairs. With 193 member states and a vast network of global agencies, the UN’s work includes trying to end civil wars, most recently in Syria; enact environmental regulation; and coordinate efforts to alleviate poverty. Since Franklin Roosevelt led the creation of the UN, the United States has provided leadership and had unmatched influence within the United Nations. Today, as the international community debates changes to the UN, the United States must consider the role it will play within the organization and the role it should have in international affairs.
A series of readings trace the emergence of the League of Nations to the formation of the United Nations. Students will examine the UN’s role in the world through an evaluation of three areas of UN work: the Security Council, peacekeeping, and the Human Rights. Each of these sections draws on case studies to foster thoughtful consideration of the UN’s achievements and shortcomings.
Power and Representation in the United NationsAfter compiling and organizing data, students consider issues of geographic representation and power on the Security Council. Students then consider Saudi Arabia's recent decision to reject a seat on the Security Council.
Writing a CharterTo comprehend the complexities of constructing a "founding document," students write a charter for a hypothetical high school sports conference.
Role-Playing a UN DecisionTaking on roles of UN member states, students weigh in on possible responses to a hypothetical crisis and evaluate the UN decision-making process from multiple perspectives.
Role-Playing the Three OptionsWorking cooperatively to develop and present different policy options to U.S. Senators, students are able to clarify and evaluate alternative U.S. policy recommendations.
Responding to CrisisStudents examine the crisis of the civil war in Syria and work in small groups to consider both the UN and U.S. response.
Additional reference material for added context and support.
Emmerij, Louis, Richard Jolly, and Thomas G. Weiss. Ahead of the Curve?: UN Ideas and Global Change. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001). 280 pages.
Luck, Edward C. UN Security Council: Practice and Promise. (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006). 208 pages.
Moore, Jonathan. Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention. (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999). 336 pages.
Power, Samantha. “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide. (New York: Basic Books, 2002). 610 pages
Weiss, Thomas G., David P. Forsythe, and Roger A. Coate. The United Nations and Changing World Politics. (Boulder: Westview Press, 2001). 334 pages.