Preventive Diplomacy at the UN

Preventive Diplomacy at the UN

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The concept of preventive diplomacy has captivated the United Nations since it was first articulated by Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjoeld a half-century ago. Successive generations of diplomats and statesmen have invested in the idea that diplomatic efforts might be able to head off international conflicts and disasters. Dramatic successes, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, contrast with dramatic failures, such as the inability of UN efforts to halt the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In this careful study, distinguished former UN civil servant Bertrand G. Ramcharan traces the history of the practice of preventive diplomacy by UN Secretaries-General, the Security Council, and other UN organizations, and assesses the record of preventive diplomacy and examines its prospects in an age of genocide and terrorism.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 296 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 20mm | 458.13g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0253219833
  • 9780253219831
  • 2,183,742

Table of contents

Series Editors' Foreword by Louis Emmerij, Richard Jolly, and Thomas G. Weiss
Foreword by Leon Gordenker
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Secretaries-General on Preventive Diplomacy


1. Preventive Diplomacy in the Concert of Europe, the Hague Peace Conferences, the League of Nations, and the UN Charter
2. UN Policies and Doctrines of Preventive Diplomacy
3. The Practice of Preventive Diplomacy by the Security Council
4. The Practice of Preventive Diplomacy by the Secretaries-General
5. Preventive Diplomacy during the Cuban Missile Crisis
6. The Practice of Preventive Diplomacy by Representatives of the Secretary-General and UN Subregional Offices
7. The Preventive Role of UN Peacekeepers and Observers
8. Preventive Diplomacy in the Economic, Social, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Fields
9. Preventive Diplomacy in an Age of Genocide, Terrorism, and Nontraditional Threats to Security
10. Cooperative Preventive Diplomacy with Regional and Subregional Organizations

Conclusion: Some Thoughts for the Future

About the Author
About the United Nations Intellectual History Project
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Review quote

This book is the tenth volume in the United Nations Intellectual History Project. It covers the concept of preventive diplomacy at the UN, making it one of the few works in the series on the peace and security functions of the UN. After describing preventive diplomacy before the UN's formation, Ramcharan (international human rights law, Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies) focuses on the work of the Security Council and the first seven Secretaries-General. This is followed by an informative chapter on Secretary-General U Thant's role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, perhaps the high point of UN preventive diplomatic negotiation. Subsequent chapters focus on preventive diplomacy by representatives of the Secretary-General, by UN subregional offices (e.g., in West Africa), by UN peacekeepers or observers, and by regional organizations. The author also broadens the concept's application of preventive diplomacy to economic, social, and human rights; to humanitarian affairs; and to genocide, terrorism, and nontraditional threats such as organized crime or nuclear smuggling. By broadening the notion of prevention, he argues for the relevance of the UN system. In the end, however, this is mostly a summary of UN speeches, memoranda, reports, and talking points that will not convince skeptics of the UN. Summing Up: Optional. Graduate and research collections. --ChoiceS. Waalkes, Malone College, Feb. 2009 "A superb work of scholarship by one of the most versatile scholar/practitioners of the UN." -Margaret Vogt, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs "No task is more fundamental to the United Nations than the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. Prevention, in particular, must be central to all our efforts. -Kofi Annan, former UN Secretar" -General
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About Bertrand G. Ramcharan

Bertrand G. Ramcharan is Professor of International Human Rights Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies and Chancellor of the University of Guyana. He was a member of the UN Secretariat for 32 years and served as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. He is the author or editor of more than 25 books on international law, human rights, and the United Nations.
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