The United Nations in the 21st Century

Karen A. Mingst, Margaret P. Karns, and Alynna J. Lyon

Fifth Edition • July 12, 2016 • 360 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813349640 • $39.00 USD$50.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813350486 • $22.99 USD$22.99 CAN

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For readers seeking more background on the book’s major themes, a list of Suggested Sources for Additional Research (PDF, 84 KB) that includes books, journals, and websites is available for immediate download.

“The authors present a solid case that unless the UN reforms to meet ‘the demands for governance and the challenges of diminished sovereignty…’ it will become increasingly irrelevant. . . . [The book] provides ample information on the dynamics of the 21st century world politics that have shaped the role of the UN.” —International Journal on World Peace

The United Nations in the 21st Century provides a comprehensive yet accessible introduction to the United Nations, exploring the historical, institutional, and theoretical foundations of the UN. This popular text for courses on international organizations and international relations also discusses the political complexities facing the organization today.

Thoroughly revised throughout, the fifth edition focuses on major trends since 2012, including changing power dynamics, increasing threats to peace and security, and the growing challenges of climate change and sustainability. It examines the proliferating public-private partnerships involving the UN and the debates over reforming the Security Council and the Secretary-General selection process. This edition also includes new case studies on peacekeeping and the use of force in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali, transnational terrorism and the emergence of ISIS, the Security Council’s failure to act in Syria, the Syrian and global refugee/migrant crisis, and the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals and framing of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Karen A. Mingst is Lockwood Chair Professor, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and Department of Political Science, University of Kentucky.

Margaret P. Karns is Professor Emerita of Political Science, University of Dayton and Visiting Professor, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance, The McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston.

Alynna J. Lyon is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire.

List of Illustrations
List of Acronyms
1  The United Nations in World Politics
The United Nations in World Politics: Vision and Reality
Contending International Relations Theories
Dilemmas the UN Faces in the Twenty-First Century
Structure of the Book
2  The Evolution of the United Nations System
The League of Nations
The Origins of the United Nations
The Organization of the United Nations
Persistent Organizational Problems and the Challenges of Reform
3  Actors in the United Nations System
The Role of States
Coalitions, Blocs, and the Importance of Consensus
The Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat as Key Actors
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
Coping with Terrorism
Future Challenges for the UN’s Role in Peace and Security
5  Economic Development and Sustainability
The Organization of the UN System for Promoting Economic Development
The UN and Evolving Ideas About Development
The UN and Other Actors
Lessons Learned
The Persistent Dilemmas
6  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
Case Studies of the UN System in Action
Evaluating the UN’s Human Rights Record
7  Human Security: The Environment, Health, and Migration
An Expanded View of Security
Protection of the Environment
Health and Human Security
Human Security: The Refugee and Migration Crisis
Dilemmas in Human Security
8  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)

Praise for Prior Editions

“The authors present a solid case that unless the UN reforms to meet ‘the demands for governance and the challenges of diminished sovereignty…’ it will become increasingly irrelevant. . . . [The book] provides ample information on the dynamics of the 21st century world politics that have shaped the role of the UN.” —International Journal on World Peace

“This text presents a comprehensive study of the prospects and challenges for the United Nations in the twenty-first century. It is essential reading for anyone interested in international organization and global politics. The accessible and engaging writing makes it ideal for classroom use.” —Meena Bose, Hofstra University

“…The United Nations in the 21st Century provides a thorough and accessible overview of the world’s preeminent international organization. It is updated to include the most recent global challenges, from terrorism to piracy to global warming, and to reflect the importance of new players on the international scene. Mingst and Karns provide historical background and a detailed description of the UN system’s many institutions and actors. I have used earlier editions for my undergraduate courses and am eager to adopt this new-and-improved version.” —Alexander Thompson, Ohio State University

“This is a welcome update of a valuable text for courses on the United Nations, international organization, or IR. Clear organization and accessible writing make it exceptionally user-friendly for undergraduate teaching. Highlights ways the UN has adapted (or not) to new challenges of the 21st century.” —Richard Stahler-Sholk, Eastern Michigan University

“To find such breadth and depth of material on the United Nations and its activities in a book of this size is remarkable. The effective mix of theory, practice, actors, and issues is complemented by an engaging and easy-to-read narrative. The approach and content of this new edition ensure that the book remains valuable reading for all students of the United Nations and international organizations.”
—Courtney B. Smith, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University

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