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date: 08 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter makes the case for greater analytical precision and historical reflection about the balance between change and continuity within the United Nations since its founding in 1945. The most pertinent changes fall under four headings: the emergence of new threats and new technological opportunities; the increasing role of non-state actors; the reformulation of state sovereignty; and the emergence of a multipolar world. This chapter examines the nature and role of each of these in today’s international system and urges readers to keep in mind three distinct analytical problems: defining the nature of change; determining the meaning of success and failure; and tracking the ups-and-downs in world politics. It also introduces the forty-four chapters that follow in The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations.

Keywords: multilateralism, UN Charter, international peace and security, human rights, humanitarian action, sustainable development, World War II, continuity, change

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