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Book Chapter

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United Nations, peace, security, Cold War


This is the introductory chapter to "United Nations Reform and the New Collective Security" edited by Peter Danchin and Horst Fischer, Cambridge University Press, 2010. (EIUC Series in Human Rights and Democratization)


Whether viewed as a socio-legal project gently civilizing states away from an older politics of diplomacy, deterrence, self-help and legitimate warfare, or as an institutional project establishing a collective security system premised on the rule of law, the primary purpose of the United Nations today remains the maintenance of international peace and security and the abolition of the “scourge of war.” In March 2003, the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq, a member State of the United Nations, in order to disarm it and change the regime of Saddam Hussein. The war shook the United Nations and leading capitals around the world and exposed the tension between competing visions of world order. The stark incompatibility between these visions in turn prompted calls for both normative and institutional reform within the United Nations. First, was the structure of the Charter itself, and the body of international law on which it depends, still the correct framework by which to view and assess new and emerging threats in a post-September 11 world? Second, how could the 1945 UN peace and security architecture be made to work more effectively to respond to new threats and lessen the impetus for powerful States to “go it alone”? The essays in this volume address the question whether there is a compelling argument for a new collective security agenda, whether the Secretary-General’s 2003 High Level Panel dreamed the right dreams and saw the right nightmares, and whether normatively and institutionally we are in fact moving towards a new collective security paradigm.


International Law