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Credited Courses

UNU Intensive Core Courses

United Nations System and Global Challenges (UNSGC)

2 credits

Course Description

The course will present students with the institutional and policy tasks the UN System– the only truly comprehensive multilateral institutional framework. The course will examine major challenges - armed conflict, human rights violations, climate change, barriers to free trade, under-development, lack of access to technology and innovation. These challenges are complex, multidimensional and can only be solved multilaterally. And here is the dialectic – the challenges are pressing, however the solutions should not be quick fixes - decision-makers should think about the effects on future generations, when addressing the most pressing issues of today. The UN System, with its large potential for international co-operation needs to become a global leader of sustainability, offering long-term strategies, uniting all actors towards solving global problems.

The core mandate of the United Nations originally was to maintain international peace and security and the course will study the shortages and advantages of the security mechanisms, the problems and the achievements of the UN organs to deal with threats to the peace. It will discuss many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a better place. The Organization’s work on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment, disaster risk reduction, international health, and climate change are introduced providing an overview of problems, mechanisms available, impacts, challenges and potential to grow.

Week 1: UN System: Origin, Structure

Lecture 1: Establishment of the UN System UN Charter. UN Principal Organs

  • San Francisco Conference
  • The UN System and the Cold War
  • UN Charter. Purposes and Principles of the UN
  • UN Charter as International Constitution: Legislative, Executive and Judicial Division of Authority
  • UN General Assembly, its Sessions and Committees

Lecture 2: UN Security Council: Powers and Limitations

  • Powers of the Security Council
  • Limitations: Legal, Political, Institutional
  • Right of Veto
  • UN Charter as International Constitution: Legislative, Executive and Judicial Division of Authority
  • Reform of the Security Council

Lecture 3: International Court of Justice

  • International Adjudication. ICJ Dispute Resolution Mechanisms. Nicaragua v. U.S. Issues of Jurisdiction & Admissibility
  • ICJ Advisory Opinions: Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons
  • ICJ and the ‘judicial review’ of Security Council resolutions. Lockerbie (Libya) and Genocide (Bosnia) Case
  • Reform of the Security Council

Week 2: Climate Change

Lecture 1: Environment (UNEP, UNDP, WB)

  • Rise of environmental concerns in Global agenda
  • Challenges: Millennium eco-systems assessment
  • Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and priority concerns

Lecture 2: Environmental security (WMO, ISDR, HABITAT)

  • GEOSS: Global earth observation system of systems
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Recovery and reconstruction: Housing

Lecture 3: Climate Change (UNFCCC, WMO)

  • IPCC reports
  • Projected global warming impacts
  • Projected global dimming impacts

Week 3: Peace and Human rights

Lecture 1: Peacekeeping Operations. Peacebuilding Mechanisms

  • Traditional and Second generation Peacekeeping. DPKO
  • Conflict Relapse and need of Peacebuilding
  • Establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission
  • Achievements and Shortages: Burundi, Sierra Leone

Lecture 2: Human Rights Mechanisms

  • Human Rights Council. Establishment. Critical Assessment of its work
  • Protection of vulnerable groups (UNHCR, CEDAW, CRC, UNICEF)

Lecture 3: International Criminal Tribunals

  • ICTY
  • ICTR
  • ICC
  • Universal Jurisdiction

Week 4:

Lecture 1: International Co-operation and Development (UNDP, World Bank)

  • Conceptualizing human development: HDI and Human security
  • Achieving MDGs
  • International cooperation: achievements and challenges

Lecture 2: Trade (WTO, UNCTAD)

  • Evolution of WTO
  • Globalization and Trade
  • IPO and Development challenges

Lecture 3: Global Health (WHO)

  • WHO Framework
  • Infectious deceases, AIDS
  • Global health delivery

Week 5:

Lecture 1: Science and Technology (UNESCO)

  • Higher education in a globalised world
  • Education for Sustainable Development: vertical and horizontal integration
  • Science and Environment: the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB)

Lecture 2: Food and Agriculture (FAO, IFAD)

  • Food security, status and projections
  • Agro diversity for sustainable food production
  • Investment in food production

Week 6: UN System: Way Ahead

  • Student Presentations

*Please note that the topics listed below may be subject to change.