The United Nations and crisis management: six studies

Author/s (editor/s):

Coral Bell , Gary Klintworth, Shirley Lithgow, Norman MacQueen, Russell Swinnerton

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 104

Since the end of the Cold War in 1989 the United Nations Security Council has emerged as the primary forum of diplomatic crisis management for the society of states. The deployment of military forces under its aegis, in places like Bosnia and Somalia, has increased eight-fold, the peacekeeping and 'peace-enforcement' budget has increased exponentially, and many countries, including Australia, have assigned forces to UN operations. The list of casualties in UN forces has also grown, as have the criticisms of its military rules of engagement and bureaucratic methods. 

These six studies constitute a guide to both the operations and the difficulties. Coral Bell provides a brief analysis of the nature of the crises the United Nations is attempting to manage, and a history of the fall and rise of UN power since 1945. Gary Klintworth provides a guide to the legal and political complexities of intervention in the domestic affairs of member states. Captain Russell Swinnerton (RAN) provides an insider's account of the preparation and management of Australian forces for UN operations. Norman MacQueen provides a history of earlier UN peacekeeping efforts, and Shirley Lithgow an account of the UN's one apparently solid diplomatic success, Cambodia operation. The section of the UN Charter detailing the powers of the Security Council is printed as an appendix. The monograph as a whole should be very useful to anyone taking a serious interest in the United Nations, or in contemporary crises.

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