The United Nations in the 21st Century  book cover
6th Edition

The United Nations in the 21st Century

ISBN 9780367481551
Published March 31, 2022 by Routledge
416 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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)

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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.