The U.N. Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century. Edited by David M. Malone. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2004. 745pp.

“Encyclopedic,” “authoritative,” “timely,” “wide-ranging”—these are the adjectives used by experts on the back cover to describe the contributions in The U.N. Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21 st Century. While often there is little congruence between what is printed on the cover and what is inside, such is not the case here. David Malone and his forty collaborators, many of them experts on the topic, have published an invaluable collection of articles focusing on changes in the United Nations Security Council since the end of the Cold War and by extension to the U.N. more generally. Between a thematic and historical overview of the Security Council are over 550 pages of analysis. The articles are grouped by common themes, each covering major changes in the functioning of the Security Council.

The first section explores the new issues addressed by the Security Council since the 1990s, including human rights, democratization, terrorism, conflict prevention, and armed nonstate actors. The respective authors show the history of how the theme they each address arrived on the U.N. agenda, its supporters and opponents, and how the issue affects—and in some cases, undermines—traditional principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in states’ domestic affairs. In every case, the authors analyze the challenges and constraints the Council confronts as these modern issues are added to an already full agenda of a body organized around post-World War II politics.

In the second part, the authors explore the methods used to enforce Security Council decisions, as well as how those methods have changed over time. Most critical is the expansion of Chapter VII authorizations and what such authorizations mean, legally. In addition, several authors address the changes to the use of more targeted sanctions and provide intensive cases on the use of sanctions in Iraq and Angola. Perhaps the most original discussion revolves around the U.N.’s exercise of “virtual trusteeship” in the administration of territories. Simon Chesterman offers a particularly useful typology of authority, from the U.N.'s supervisory authority in East Timor and Kosovo, to its executive authority in Bosnia, its administrative authority in Cambodia, as well as its monitoring authority in Afghanistan.

The operations and practices of the Security Council as an institution have, likewise, changed over time, as illustrated in the third section. While several chapters describe the major changes in procedure during the post-Cold War era—particularly the increased use of informal decision-making of the five permanent members (P-5), with its strengths and weaknesses—other articles cover the emergence of new key actors in Security Council deliberations, such as the convening of various Groups of Friends, the role of the U.N. Secretary-General and the innovative use of his/her Special Representatives, the increased council collaboration with regional organizations (ECOWAS, NATO, CIS), and the involvement of NGOs. Interestingly, James A. Paul's article on NGOs examines not only why NGO involvement has increased but how that has occurred. In addition, discussions of both the Arria Formula briefings and informal channels are particularly revealing. Finally, well-worn but critical examinations of U.N. reform and the role of the U.S. are included.

The changing role of the Security Council in the management of specific conflicts is the subject of the fourth section. While there are some cases which have been covered in depth in other publications (e.g., the Middle East peace process, Namibia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo), others represent cases which have been less well studied, including Mozambique, Haiti, Sierra Leone, East Timor, and Ethiopia/ Eritrea. Students will find these analyses useful, with the insider's accounts (Colin Keating on Rwanda and Ian Martin on East Timor) and African perspectives (Adekeye Adebajo on Ethiopia/Eritrea and Ibrahim A. Gambari on Rwanda) most revealing.

Drawing implications from such a voluminous work is problematic. Steven R. Ratner focuses on the council’s impact on the development of international law, while Cameron R. Hume and David Malone take a broader view, highlighting major implications for Chapter VII operations and the integration of cross-cutting issues into the Council's agenda. Even though the detail and scope might be a bit overwhelming for undergraduates, graduate students and scholars will utilize this volume for research and scholarly perspectives in the coming years.

Karen A. Mingst, University of Kentucky
October 2005

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