IP1005 International Organisations in Global Politics (1)
This module introduces students to the structure of the United Nations, the key intergovernmental organisation in global politics. Knowledge of its structure and procedures provides an important context for all the other modules in International Politics. One policy domain of global politics that is uniquely focused on the UN, conflict resolution and peace-keeping, is also covered, to illustrate how the UN system operates.
The lectures and classes will outline the structure and procedures of the six principal organs of the United Nations and how they relate to each other. The wider UN system, including the programmes, funds and specialised agencies and the co-ordination processes between them, will also be outlined. A contrast will be made between analysis of the UN as a forum for the interaction of states and as a complex political system, including governments, the secretariats and transnational actors.
Learning Outcomes: Subject knowledge and understanding
On successful completion of this module, a student will be expected to be able to
- Outline the structure and the functions of the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the specialised agencies, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat;
- Specify how the UN is financed and the reasons for its financial problems;
- Distinguish between different types of political actors and coalitions of actors that take part in UN policy-making processes;
- Analyse the processes that determine the production of UN resolutions;
- Understand the UN's role in conflict resolution and peace-keeping;
- Define the concepts of the state, sovereignty, supranationality, transgovernmental and transnational relations and analyse their use in competing explanations of political outcomes at the UN.
The module will provide historical background on the creation of the United Nations and the growth in its membership and its activities. The formal structure, the composition, the mandate and the procedures of the main organs will be outlined. This legal approach will be contrasted with a political analysis of how different transgovernmental, transnational and intergovernmental actors form coalitions to determine policy at the UN. The system of financing the regular budget, peace-keeping operations and voluntary funds will be reviewed so that students understand the political, legal, financial and administrative crises that have been caused by the UN's lack of resources. The knowledge of the institutional, legal, political and financial processes will be applied to understanding the UN's role and its limitations, in the domains of conflict resolution and peace-keeping.
Questions will be raised about the impact of the UN on the domestic and the global legitimacy of policy-making by governments. A reductionist, state-centric analysis of the UN will be compared and contrasted with a holistic analysis of the UN as a distinct political system, in which all participants are socialised into collective norms and constrained by established procedures and past decisions.
Learning and teaching methods
Acquisition of knowledge and understanding is promoted through a combination of lectures and interactive classes. Students are encouraged to undertake extensive reading and independent study in order to understand the topics covered in lectures and classes and to broaden and deepen their knowledge of the subject.
Students also receive feedback on their coursework to encourage them to reflect on what they have produced.
Each students will produce one essay of up to 2,000 words, give a class presentation and answer two questions in an unseen examination. In order to pass the module, the student must gain an average mark of at least 40%. The module average is calculated from the exam mark weighted at 70% and the coursework weighted at 30%.
For degree programmes where this is a compulsory module, compensation is not permitted for failure. If the Assessment Board requires a resit, each component for which a mark of less than 40% has been achieved will be resat or a specific assessment activity will be required.
Indicative Reading list
- J. Baylis and S. Smith, The Globalization of World Politics, (327.101BAY).
- P. Taylor and A J R Groom (eds), The United Nations at the Millennium. The Principal Organs, (xxx).
- E. Luard, The United Nations. How it Works and What it Does, (327.17UN).
- J. Kaufmann, United Nations Decision-Making, (327.17UN).
- UNITAR, The Making of a Delegate, (327.17UN).
- R. O. Keohane & J. S. Nye, 'Transgovernmental relations and international organisations', in M Smith et al, Perspectives on World Politics, (327SMI).
- J.W. Foster (ed.), Whose World is it Anyway?, (327.17FOS)
- P. Willetts, 'The Conscience of the World'. The Influence of Non-Governmental Organisations in the UN System, (327.17WIL).
- A. James, The Politics of Peace-Keeping, (327.171JAM).
- M. R. Berdal, Whither UN Peace-Keeping?, (327.11AP281).
- N. D. White, Keeping the Peace, (341.23WHI)
Centre for International Politics, School of Social Science, City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB.
Page maintained by Peter Willetts
Page produced on 8 August 2005
Updated on 8 August 2005