6th Edition

The United Nations in the 21st Century

    416 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    416 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The United Nations in the 21st Century, Sixth Edition, provides a comprehensive yet accessible introduction to the UN. It explores the historical, institutional, and theoretical foundations of the UN as well as major global trends and challenges facing the organization today, including changing major power dynamics, new threats to peace and security, the migration and refugee crises, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the existential challenges of climate change and sustainability.

    Thoroughly revised and expanded, it contains two new chapters on the UN and the environment and on human security, including issues of health, food security, global migration, and human trafficking. There is enhanced analysis of theoretical perspectives on post-colonialism, feminist theory, constructivism, and non-Western views. New content has also been added on the UN’s budget crisis, public–private partnerships, and the role of women in the organization.

    By examining the UN as an intergovernmental organization facing the broader need for global cooperation to address economic, social, and environmental interdependencies alongside the threats posed by rising nationalism and populism, this popular text is the perfect reference for all students and practitioners of international organizations, global governance, and international relations.

    1 The United Nations in World Politics

    The United Nations in World Politics: Vision and Reality 

    Contending International Relations Theories 

    Dilemmas the UN Faces


    2 The Evolution of the United Nations System

    The League of Nations 

    The Origins of the United Nations 

    The Organization of the United Nations 

    Global Conferences and Summits

    Persistent Organizational Problems and the Challenges of Reform 


    3 Actors in the United Nations System

    The Role of States: The First UN 

    Coalitions, Blocs, and the Importance of Consensus 

    The Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat as Key Actors: The Second UN 

    Nonstate Actors: The Third UN 


    4 Maintaining International Peace and Security

    Linking International Relations Theories 

    Maintaining Peace and Security: The UN Charter and Its Evolution 

    Mechanisms for Peaceful Settlement and Preventive Diplomacy 

    Collective Security, Enforcement, and Sanctions 

    Peace Operations: Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding 

    Humanitarian Intervention—R2P and POC—Providing Human Security

    Arms Control and Disarmament 

    Countering Terrorism

    Dilemmas the UN Faces


    5 Economic, Human, and Sustainable Development

    The Organization and Approaches of the UN System for Promoting Development

    Operational Activities and Functional Divisions by Issue Areas

    The UN and Evolving Ideas About Development 

    The UN and Other Actors 

    Lessons Learned 

    Dilemmas the UN Faces

    6 Advancing International Human Rights

    From the League of Nations to the United Nations 

    UN Charter Principles and Organizational Structures 

    The Role of the UN in Human Rights 

    The Role of Nongovernmental Organizations 

    The Role of Celebrities

    Case Studies of the UN System in Action 

    Efforts to Address Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and War Crimes

    Evaluating the UN’s Human Rights Record 

    Dilemmas the UN Faces

    7 Protection of the Environment

    Genesis of an Idea: The Stockholm Conference

    The Institutional Framework for Environmental Protection

    Comparing UN System Initiatives on Ozone Depletion and Climate Change

    Protecting Biological Diversity

    Dilemmas the UN Faces

    8 Human Security: Health, Food, Migration, and Trafficking

    An Expanded View of Security 

    The UN, Health, and Human Security

    The UN and Efforts to Ensure Food Security

    The UN and the Refugee and Migration Crisis

    Dilemmas the UN Faces 

    9 Is There a Future for the United Nations?

    Does the UN Make a Difference? 

    Lessons About What the UN Cannot Do 

    Factors in UN Success and Failure 

    Can the UN Be Reformed? 

    Linking the UN to Global Governance 

    Appendix: Charter of the United Nations (Selected Sections)


    Karen A. Mingst is Professor Emerita at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and the political science department at the University of Kentucky.

    Margaret P. Karns is Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of Dayton and Senior Fellow in global governance and human security at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

    Alynna J. Lyon is Professor of Political Science and Faculty Fellow, Office of Senior Vice Provost, Engagement and Faculty Development at the University of New Hampshire.