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The Charter of the United Nations: A Primer

 

Introduction

In the course of a 37-year military career, which included UN peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia, I never once read or even saw a copy of the Charter of the United Nations. I don’t know of any other officers who did, nor did I ever even hear it discussed. And, and so far as understanding our employment and our missions, that was pretty much it for my generation of officers. And still it seems today that much current debate, even at very high levels, is little better informed and no less careless of details than were my generation.

This is just not good enough. Ill informed debate is not useful discussion, and we have learned the hard way that unrealistic expectations produce ill judgement, which can and often does lead to self-fulfilling prophecies of failure.

To the extent that the United Nations is the pre-eminent system and authority for, inter-alia, the maintenance of international peace and security, and to the extent that we really do care about these issues, we need to know the Organization better, and there is no better way to know this Organization than through familiarity with its mighty Charter. (As you can see from the illustration above, I have since put a lot of miles on my copy of the Charter, even, as you can also see, while I was in fact working Chapter VIII.)

The Charter of the UN is a remarkable document. Drafted in 1945, and entering into force just six months after the drafting, it has been amended on only four occasions, the last over 40 years ago.

We will in this article describe and explore the following Chapters of the Charter of the United Nations:

Chapter I: Purposes and Principles
Chapter III:  Organs
Chapter IV: The General  Assembly
Chapter V: The Security Council
Chapter VI: Pacific Settlement of Disputes
Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression
Chapter VIII: Regional Arrangements

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A BOOK WITH A VIEW: A REVIEW OF ROSE OF SARAJEVO, By Ayse Kulin

Kindle edition, published by AmazonCrossing, Seattle
Originally published by Remzi Kitabevi, Istanbul, 1999
Reviewed for Peacehawks by Jamie Arbuckle

Introduction

The author describes her book succinctly and accurately in her introduction:

This book tells the story of the heroic and honorable people who survived the horrendous war in Bosnia that took place from April 5, 1992 to February 26, 1996, during which Sarajevo was held under siege for 1,395 days, without regular electricity, communications or water. Ten thousand six hundred Bosniaks – of whom 1,600 were children – lost their lives. Those who survived were pressured to accept the Dayton Agreement.   With this treaty, 51 per cent of Bosnia was left to Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the Serbs, who comprised only 34 percent of the population before the war, gained 49 per cent of the land. (location 31).

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INTO AFRICA – REALLY!

A review for Peacehawks of Sandpaper: A Story of Africa, by Angela Mackay. 2013.
- by Jamie Arbuckle

Angela Mackay has written a simply marvelous novel of Africa. It is perhaps the best book I’ve read this year, and it takes us truly into an Africa we think we know, or at least we think we know of: the post-colonial legacy of exploitation and neglect, and the post-independence period of corruption and incompetence have combined to produce a dystopia characterized by poverty, ignorance and protracted internal strife. Life is nasty, brutish and short, and we’ve heard it all before – we might even have been there. But when you have laid this book down, you will at last know how little you knew.

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UNO: WHAT TRIBE IS THAT?

Panel 2 of a triptych: A book review for Peacehawks of Hammarskjoeld: a Life, by Roger Lipsey, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2013. 738 pp; illus, footnotes, indexed, bibliography.

by Jamie Arbuckle

Introduction

There have of course been several books about Dag Hammarskjoeld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. The most authoritative was Sir Brian Urquhart’s Hammarskjoeld[1] first published in 1972; Urquhart combined immediacy – he was there – with scholarship. More recently (2011), there has been the extremely useful and readable work by Manuel Froehlich. [2]

Do we need another biography of Dag Hammarskjoeld? As we wrote in the first panel of this triptych[3], we believe that there are some stories that are so important to us that they need to be retold afresh in each generation, and there is no redundancy in the retelling. Each generation needs to hear, in its own voice and in its own time, the vital stories of the times. The past is not necessarily fate, but it is often prologue. And living in history is like map reading: if you know where you were and how you have gone, you should know where you are, and you can have a good idea where you are going. Updating the map from time to time can never be of no use.

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CHILD SOLDIERS: WEAPONS OF CHOICE, BUT WHOSE CHOICE?

A book review for Peacehawks:
They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, by Senator Romeo Dallaire, Arrow Books, London, 2010 (307 pp, 12.07 LBS)

By Jamie Arbuckle

INTRODUCTION

Canadian Senator and retired General Romeo Dallaire, the author of the best-selling Shake Hands With the Devil (Random House Canada, 2003), and the original commander of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Rwanda in 1994, has written another book, just as timely, urgent and compelling as his first.  Peacehawks  thinks it important that we inform you of this book as quickly as we can – I finished reading it an hour ago.

My life and my career have been very short on living heroes: Robert Rogers died almost a century and a half, and T.E. Lawrence five years, before I was born; I was 22 years old when Dag Hammarskjold was killed, and 23 when JFK was assassinated; my father died when I was only 32.  I didn’t expect to have any more heroes in my direct experience of life.  But I have been rarely privileged to know, even briefly to work with, Romeo Dallaire, and he is every inch a hero for our so dusty, spiteful and divided time. I thought you needed to know my view of the author as you read this review.

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WITH LAWRENCE IN VALHALLA

A book review essay for Peacehawks by Jamie Arbuckle

… the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with eyes wide open, to make it so.  This I did.

T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, by Michael Korda (Harper Collins, New York, 2010. Ilus, 762 pp. $35.00)

Other books discussed in this essay:

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by Lawrence of Arabia (Hazel Watson and Viney Ltd, Aylesbury, Bucks, 1926. Illus, 700 pp [Penguin Vers.])

Lawrence and the Arabs, by Robert Graves (Jonathan Cape, London, 1927. Illus, 454 pp)

Lawrence of Arabia, by Basil H. Liddell Hart (Da Capo Press, New York, 1937, Illus, 406 pp)

Introduction

Did we really need another bio of Lawrence? Well, the most recent of the several, Hero, by Michael Korda is, I think, the best of the bunch, and for me it has been worth the wait.

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REVIEW OF “RESTREPO”: WHEN A PICTURE IS NOT WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Restrepo, 2010, a film by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington.
Reviewed for Peacehawks by Jamie Arbuckle

It is a characteristic of our very advanced communications media that the medium is often not the message, and sometimes contains almost no message at all. This film is one such non-message.

The intention of the film seems to be to accompany the book, War, by Sebastian Junger. Junger is a skilled writer with a strong sense of contemporary history and is well known for his narrative skills, both of which are amply displayed in his book. War presents the operations of Battle Company, 2nd Parachute Infantry Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan from May 2007 to July 2008. (The other companies in the Battalion are called “Chosen” and “Destined” – the irony, as in so much of the terminology used here, is certainly unintentional.) In particular, the movie tells inter alia the story of the Second Platoon of Battle Company in combat outpost Restrepo, which was named for a very popular medic, Juan Restrepo, and which was established shortly after he was killed in action in Afghanistan.

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Light Candles or Curse the Darkness: East Timor Turns the Century

“Militaries that are doing something bad sometimes go into their shell. It’s them against the world.”
– Admiral Dennis Blair, CinC U.S. Pacific Command, on the Indonesian Armed Forces, in 1999.
“ … cutting off contact with Indonesian officers only makes the problem worse”
– Paul Wolfowitz
“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
– Confucius

- a book report by Jamie Arbuckle for Peacehawks:

If You Leave us Here, We Will Die – How Genocide was Stopped in East Timor, by Geoffrey Robinson, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2010, 317 pages, $35

INTRODUCTION

This book tells of the terrible and the wonderful events in East Timor, centred on but not limited to the years 1999- 2000, and of the candles that were lit then. For us the messages in this book are three, and they bear directly on our central belief that peace must be maintained at least as robustly as it is violated. These three messages concern:
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NOT BY DOVES, BUT BY HAWKS – PEACE GETS A CHANCE IN SIERRA LEONE

As the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) comes to a close at the end of this year, it may serve as a model for successful peacekeeping, as well as a prototype for the UN’s new emphasis on peacebuilding.
- From UNAMSIL: A Success Story in Peacekeeping, from “End of Mission Press Kit”, December 2005, http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/past/unamsil/Overview.pdf
A book review, by Jamie Arbuckle, for Peacehawks:Operation Barras: the SAS Rescue Mission, Sierra Leone 2000, by William Fowler, Cassell, London, 2004. 211 pp, $9.95 (pb)

Introduction

In the summer of 2000 things just couldn’t have been much worse for the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Since February, 1998, nearly 650 persons – peacekeepers, relief workers, priests, nuns, diplomats, and normal people whose luck had run out – had been kidnapped, and 19 of them had been murdered. 575 of those taken were Blue Berets, the equivalent of a whole battalion. By late summer of 2000, about 600 persons had been released, including all of the UN peacekeepers. But about 50 were still captive and, when 11 British soldiers were seized on 25 August, things were getting pretty serious. Yet, less than two years later, the civil war had ended (and seems to have stayed that way), and in 2003 the Kimberly Process virtually ended traffic in the “blood diamonds”, which had been used to finance the rebels. In 2004 the disarmament of the rebel factions was completed and a war crimes tribunal was convened. At the end of 2005, just five years after that nadir of 2000, the peacekeeping mission was being phased out to a peacebuilding mission, and the close-out briefings in New York were presenting this as the poster child of a successful mission.
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Trackless Diplomacy – At Play in the Fields of the Lord’s Resistance Army

… the peacemaker must ‘wage’ peace.
– Ben Hoffmann
Peace Guerilla – unarmed and in harm’s way, my obsession with ending violence
By Ben Hoffmann, Ph.D., The Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation, Ottawa, 2009 206 pp., $12.96 (Cdn)
A review for Peacehawks by Jamie Arbuckle

 

This book is the story of Ben Hoffman’s efforts to end a nineteen-year old war between Sudan and Uganda. His chief instrument in this was the Nairobi Agreement, which had been mediated by former President Jimmy Carter in December, 1999. Ben, working on behalf of the Carter Center (http://www.cartercenter.org/homepage.html), was to oversee the implementation of the Agreement. To do so, he would have to end the guerilla war being waged by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army against the Government of Uganda, from safe areas within and with the support of Sudan. Kony’s LRA was an especially vile band, kidnapping children for “warriors” and “wives”. Kony himself, as Ben makes graphically clear, was mad, bad and dangerous to know. And get to know him Ben did, with all that entailed. If you take nothing else from this reading, you will empathize with the courage and the self-reliance required for this sort of intervention.
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The United Nations Today: As Good as it Gets?

- by Jamie Arbuckle, for Peacehawks

What’s Wrong With the United Nations, and How to Fix It
By Thomas Weiss,
Polity Press, 292 pp., $19.45, 2009

The UN … is essentially the collective agent of its member states. Many of the UN’s organizational incapacities could be corrected by additional resources from its member states, who devote but a tiny fraction of the resources they spend on national security to collective action under the umbrella of the United Nations.
Peacemaking and Peacekeeping for the New Century, Ottunnu and Doyle, Rowan and Littlefield, New York, 1996

This is an interesting book about the United Nations, and an impressive effort to get beyond the usual procedural and structural tinkering which has characterized and limited most efforts to “improve” the U.N. Thomas Weiss is certainly well qualified to write this book. He combines the skills and the background of a practitioner and a scholar: he served with the U.N. Secretariat for a decade, but has also distinguished himself as an academic for over 25 years, during which he has been a profound student of and a prolific writer, researcher and teacher about, the U.N.
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Managing Public Information in a Mediation Process

Buy or Download
Issue Areas
Conflict Management and Resolution
Mediation and Facilitation
Post-Conflict Activities
Centers
Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution

February 2009 Book by Ingrid A. Lehmann

Those who mediate international conflicts must communicate publicly with a wide variety of audiences, from governments and rebel forces to local and international media, NGOs and IGOs, divided communities and diasporas.

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