Selective Security

War and the United Nations Security Council since 1945

By Adam Roberts, Dominik Zaum

© 2008 – Routledge

96 pages

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Paperback: 9780415474726
pub: 2008-07-30
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About the Book

In contrast to the common perception that the United Nations is, or should become, a system of collective security, this paper advances the proposition that the UN Security Council embodies a necessarily selective approach. Analysis of its record since 1945 suggests that the Council cannot address all security threats effectively. The reasons for this include not only the veto power of the five permanent members, but also the selectivity of all UN member states: their unwillingness to provide forces for peacekeeping or other purposes except on a case-by-case basis, and their reluctance to involve the Council in certain conflicts to which they are parties, or which they perceive as distant, complex and resistant to outside involvement.

The Council’s selectivity is generally seen as a problem, even a threat to its legitimacy. Yet selectivity, which is rooted in prudence and in the UN Charter itself, has some virtues. Acknowledging the necessary limitations within which the Security Council operates, this paper evaluates the Council’s achievements in tackling the problem of war since 1945. In doing so, it sheds light on the division of labour among the Council, regional security bodies and states, and offers a pioneering contribution to public and governmental understanding of the UN’s past, present and future roles.

Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter One The Inherent Selectivity of the Council's Roles Chapter Two Wars and Crises since 1945: The Overall Record Chapter Three Proposals for UN Standing Forces: A Record of Failure Chapter Four Innovation and Flexibility since the End of the Cold War Chapter Five Accountability and Reform Conclusion Problems and Opportunities of Selective Security Today Appendix UN Security Council-Authorised Military Operations, 1950-2007

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Adelphi series

The Adelphi series is The International Institute for Strategic Studies' flagship contribution to policy-relevant, original academic research.

Eight books are published each year. They provide rigorous analysis of contemporary strategic and defence topics that is useful to politicians and diplomats, as well as academic researchers, foreign-affairs analysts, defence commentators and journalists.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS027000
HISTORY / Military / General
POL011000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POL012000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POL035000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General