JC History Tuition Online - What was the Plaza Accord - Global Economy Notes

What was the Plaza Accord?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Learn more about the economic challenges faced by the United States that prompted the Reagan administration to introduce the Plaza Accord of 1985 [Video by Danieljbmitchell]

New competitors; Trade deficits
Following the abandonment of the ‘gold standard’ in 1971, the United States (US) continued to experience severe trade deficits vis-à-vis Japan and West Germany. The Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark were relatively weaker than the US Dollar. This meant that these two advanced economies’ exports were cheaper than the American exports, fueling demand for the former group’s.

In the US, heavy manufacturers and automobile firms called for their politicians to embark trade protectionism. With American jobs at stake, the Reagan administration had to step in to manage this worrying trend.

At the beginning of the 1980s the American auto industry was reeling under pressure from foreign competition – deservedly so, as the quality of American-made autos from the Big Three was noticeably inferior to that of imports from Europe and Japan.

…Unable to meet this quality competition head-on, and having lost $4.2 billion in 1980, the Big Three American automakers pressed for the predictable solution: trade protectionism.

…After a heated debate at the White House, Reagan passively agreed to seek a “voluntary export restraint agreement” with Japan.

An excerpt from “The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989” by Steven F. Hayward.

In addition to the voluntary export restraint (VER) with Japan that limited the number of imported automobiles, the US government oversaw the meeting with the G5 nations. The G5 comprised of industrialised nations, namely United Kingdom, Japan, West Germany, France and the US.

The Plaza Accord
On 22 September 1985, the G5 nations met at the Plaza Hotel in New York. At main outcome was the formulation of an agreement to depreciate the US dollar relative to the Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark.

The main purpose of the accord, however, was to address the United States-Japan trade imbalance by making American goods less expensive and Japanese goods more expensive, so that Japanese customers would buy inexpensive American goods and Japanese companies would have to raise their prices in dollar terms and therefore lose customers.

… The time from 1986 until the middle of 1990 in Japan is often referred to as the ‘bubble economy‘. This period saw massive expansion, primarily due to a rapid surge in domestic demand – a growth in capital investments and in personal spending. Stocks and real estate prices skyrocketed.

An excerpt from “Government, International Trade, and Laissez-Faire Capitalism: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand’s Relations with Japan” by Carin L. Holroyd.

Although the Accord did manage to reduce trade deficits, the repercussion on the Japanese economy was severe. As the Japanese Yen appreciated relative to the US dollar, individuals and firms purchased real estate and stocks, pushing up the prices artificially. Speculators used their newly-purchased real estate as collateral to buy more. Eventually, the expanding asset bubble burst, ushering the ‘Lost Decade’ in Japan.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the Plaza Accord of 1985 was key in explaining the decline of the Japanese economy in the 1990s.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn how to write essays effectively. Our online learning classes are suitable for JC students taking either H1 or H2 History. We conduct thematic discussions and written practices to improve your reading, thinking and writing techniques.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - Why did Nixon abandon the gold standard - Global Economy Notes

Why did Nixon abandon the gold standard in 1971?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Let’s take a look at the implications of the collapse of the ‘gold standard’ on the US economy and the rest of the world [Video by Ampleforth]

An unsustainable model
Ever since the Bretton Woods system was established in 1958, the convertibility of United States (US) dollars to gold was fixed at $35 an ounce. Initially, the US government held nearly 75 percent of the world’s official gold reserves, instilling confidence in the global monetary system.

However, demand for gold increased in the 1960s when exports from Western Europe and Japan became more competitive with the US. Additionally, the large Cold War expenditures contributed to excess supply of US dollars in circulation.

The economy falters
In the late 1960s, the US economy was hit by the increase in inflation (5.4%) and unemployment (6%) rates. An unexpected phenomenon has occurred – stagflation, which meant a combination of slow growth and high inflation.

In order to fight stagflation, US President Richard Nixon addressed the nation on 15 August 1971, declaring the end of the fixed exchange rate system that underpinned the Bretton Woods ‘gold standard’.

The Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates based on the free convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold, which had been showing signs of strain for many years, came apart entirely on August 15, 1971. President Nixon’s announcement that the U.S. would no longer sell gold at $35 per ounce effectively set the dollar afloat. By December 1971, the dollar had fallen about 6% relative to a multilateral trade weighted average of currencies, as the world groped for a new international monetary system.

An excerpt from “Economic Policy and the Great Stagflation” by Alan S. Blinder.

Bold actions
During Nixon’s historic speech on 15 August, he raised three points to protect the US economy – lower unemployment rates, curb inflation and minimise international speculation.

For the third point, Nixon claimed that the ‘gold standard’ was not sustainable as currency speculators have been ‘waging an all-out war’ on the US dollar even though it functioned as a ‘pillar of monetary stability’ on the global scale.

I have directed Secretary Connally to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the American dollar except in amounts and conditions determined to be in the interest of monetary stability and in the best interests of the United States.

… If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.

The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.

An excerpt from a speech by Richard Nixon, 15 August 1971.

Nixon defended his position by asserting that the devaluation of the dollar was to ensure fair competition between the American workers and the rest of the world. Furthermore, he imposed a 10 percent tax on imported goods into the US as a temporary measure to protect domestic jobs.

Fragmentation of markets
In response, the European governments were taken aback by the policy shifts of the US government. On 10 September 1971, The New York Times reported that the imposition of tariff barriers may affect nearly 90 percent of the European exports to the US, amounting to $7 billion.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system was a turning point?

Join our JC History Tuition to comprehend the complexities of the global economy. Our online learning classes are suitable for students taking either H1 or H2 History. In preparation for the GCE A Level History examination, we provide thematic revision and writing practices.

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JC History Tuition - The Japanese Economic Miracle Revisited - Global Economy Notes

The Japanese Economic Miracle: Revisited

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

Examine the post-war economic development of Japan. [Video by Documentary Tube]

A global economic powerhouse: Japan
From 1968 to 2010, Japan gained international recognition as the world’s second largest economy. Before the devastating ‘Lost Decades’ of the 1990s, academics have sought to figure out the key factors that explained the remarkable growth of Japan. Notably, the keiretsu is well-known contributor of Japan’s economic growth.

Keiretsu: The Japanese business network
After World War Two, the United States dissolved the family-owned conglomerates known as the zaibatsu. Then, six major keiretsu (commonly known as the ‘Big Six’) were formed, such as Sumitomo, Fuyo, Sanwa and Mitsui. The keiretsu comprised of a group of large companies that connected different entities in the production line, like the manufacturers and distributors.

Thus, the Keiretsu can also be seen in practice as the major force behind the transformation of Japanese society from a postindustrial into a postmodern society, in close cooperation with powerful political and social influences.

An excerpt from “Keiretsu Economy – New Economy?: Japan’s Multinational Enterprises from a Postmodern Perspective” by R. Kensy.

These large business groups form interconnected networks to involve banks and industrialists to compete with local and foreign rival firms. Over time, the keiretsu accumulated market share, contributing to their economic dominance in Japan.

By the early 1970s, Japan became increasingly known in the global trade scene, such as the automobile industry. With support from the Japanese government, the keiretsu manufactured goods that rivalled competitors like the United States.

The government essentially closed the domestic market to foreign competition, to allow home-grown enterprises time to develop and prosper. Japanese businesses took the form of a series of keiretsu, vertically integrated companies that straddled virtually every facet of the Japanese economy. And the keiretsu, such as Mitsubishi, Matsui and others, enjoyed unbridled growth during the post-war period.

By the early 1970s, Japanese car makers were dominating even the once immune US market. The Japanese economic miracle was in full swing.

An excerpt from “The Routledge Companion to Global Economics” by Robert Beynon.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the importance of the state actors in causing the economic miracle of Japan in the post-war years.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Global Economy (1945-2000). We have online learning programmes to streamline your study of the topics tested during the GCE A Level History examination. Also, you will learn to develop and refine essential reading and writing skills, such as question analysis and perspective setting for essay and source based case study.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - What caused the post-war economic miracle in Western Europe - Global Economy Notes

What caused the post-war economic miracle in Western Europe?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

Learn more about the role of Ludwig Erhard, who was known as the architect of the German economic miracle. [Video by Public Broadcasting Service]

Picking up the pieces: Post-war reconstruction
By the time the World War Two had concluded, many European nations were badly damaged by the military campaigns, especially Germany. A 1953 United States report noted that the Allied bombing campaign in Dresden had destroyed at least 50 percent of its residential buildings and at least 23 percent of the city’s industrial buildings.

Government leaders sought to introduce domestic policies to re-build their economies. At the same time, they turned to foreign aid and assistance, such as the United States, to augment their post-war plans.

In this article, we will be examining the case study of West Germany. It is important to note that other parts of Western Europe also experienced rapid economic growth in the early post-war years, such as France (Les Trente Glorieuses).

Wirtschaftswunder: The German Economic Miracle
Enter Ludwig Erhard. From 1949 to 1963, Erhard assumed the role as Minister of Economic Affairs under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to spearhead the post-war economic reforms in West Germany. Erhard embarked on a multi-pronged approach to revive West Germany’s economy.

For example, Erhard came up with the currency reform (Deutsche Mark) on 22 June 1948 to replace the old Reichsmark. The West German government also imposed price control measures to avert the hyperinflation and the expansion of a black market.

On 25 June 1948 currency reform was introduced in the Western zones. The old money would be exchanged at a rate of one-tenth of the new, though for a while the two currencies ran side by side. The SBZ (Soviet Occupation Zone) had been excluded from monetary reform because the Russians could not have been trusted to print the right amounts. By June 1948 Ludwig Erhard had made arrangements to print 500 tons of banknotes in the US and have them airlifted to Frankfurt. Virtually all rationing and price controls were abolished.

An excerpt from “After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation” by Giles MacDonogh.

As a result of Erhard’s guidance, the West Germany economy flourished. The Deutsch Mark had encouraged the citizens to use it as a new currency for consumption of goods and services. People reduced their reliance on barter trade and the black market. With greater access to essentials like food, the Germans increased their time spent on work. From 1948 to 1958, industrial production increased more than four times its annual rate.

Changing priorities: Foreign aid and assistance & the Marshall Plan
Following the United States Secretary of State James Byrnes’ speech on 6 September 1946, the Western powers changed its stance towards the West German zones, focusing on post-war economic recovery. They focused on the recovery of key industries that produced coal, iron and steel. The United States also announced the introduction of the Marshall Plan on 5 June 1947, offering financial aid to European nations for reconstruction.

The influx of Marshall Plan funds intensified the new faith in the Deutsche Mark and hastened the reconstruction of West German capital and fixed assets. Although the economy was still subject to various Allied controls and rationing, the West German people now possessed sufficient confidence in the economy to conduct normal business and participate in the free circulation of goods and money that is so critical to a healthy economy.

The combination of the currency reform, Marshall Plan funds, and the social market economy has been described as the foundation on which the expansion of the economic miracle was based. With the industrial boom prompted by the Korean War, the West German GNP (Gross National Product) gained 67 percent in real terms and industrial output rose by 110 percent between 1948 to 1952.

An excerpt from “Selling the Economic Miracle: Economic Reconstruction and Politics in West Germany, 1949-1957” by Mark E. Spicka.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the United States was chiefly responsible for the post-war economic miracle in Western Europe?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Global Economy (1945-2000). Our online learning programmes are effective in covering the key historical events through class discussions and writing practices. By doing so, you will develop the awareness to form persuasive arguments for the GCE A Level History essay questions.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC H2 H1 History Tuition Online - What happened during the United States invasion of Grenada - United Nations Essay Notes

What happened during the United States invasion of Grenada?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Find out what happened in Grenada [Video by The Associated Press].

Historical Context: The ‘Second Cold War’
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, United States (US) President Ronald Reagan renewed Cold War confrontation towards its ideological rival. As part of the ‘containment policy’, the US increased its military and financial support for counter-revolutionaries in other parts of the world. Along the same vein, the US became more involved in the toppling of pro-Communist regimes.

The prevention of another ‘hostage crisis’
The Reagan administration’s swift and firm response to the coup launched by the leftist Maurice Bishop and his New Jewel Movement was partly motivated by the fears of another ‘Iran Hostage Crisis’. In Grenada, there were nearly 1000 Americans. Most were medical students.

From the ideological standpoint, the US was concerned with the rise of a Marxist regime. In 1983, the Marxist Bernard Coard assassinated Bishop and replaced the government. The Reagan administration was concerned with the increasing Soviet influence in the Carribean.

The United States had grown increasingly uneasy about the expansion of Soviet and Cuban influence in the Caribbean and in Grenada in particular. By the early 1980s, Soviet support of the Communist Sandinista government of Nicaragua and of the Communist insurrection in El Salvador was on the rise. The new U.S. administration of President Ronald Reagan viewed further encroachments into traditional U.S. spheres of influence in South and Central America and the Caribbean as constituting an increasing menace. Soviet and Cuban military aid and equipment and construction of an airfield larger than any needed for purely civilian purposes set off alarm bells in the U.S. national security establishment.

An excerpt from “Operation Urgent Fury: The Invasion of Grenada, October 1983” by Richard W Stewart and Edgar F Raines.

On 25 October 1983, the US led a military invasion of Grenada, clashing with Grenadian armed forces and Cuban engineers. Eventually, the invasion was a success. Coard’s government was replaced by a pro-American Herbert Blaize.

International outrage
The American invasion drew strong criticisms from various countries. On 2 November 1983, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution, condemning the act as a ‘flagrant violation of international law’. Similarly, the United Nations Security Council drafted a resolution, but was vetoed by the US.

… President Reagan dispatched 1,900 US troops to Grenada on October 25. Encountering little resistance, US forces quickly gained control of the island, arrested what was left of the Grenadian government… Although popular in the United States, the US action was condemned by the United Nations, with only a US veto preventing a Security Council censure.

The invasion of Grenada, coupled with increases in support for the Contras and the Afghan resistance led to a codification of US policy toward the Third World which became known as the Reagan Doctrine.

An excerpt from “The Cold War: An International History” by David Painter.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of the Cold War on the political effectiveness of the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cold War and peacekeeping missions. We cover a thematic review during our online learning classes. Students will receive summary notes and go through class practices to refine their thinking, reading and writing techniques.

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JC H2 H1 History Tuition Online - What were Dag Hammarskjöld's contributions - United Nations Essay Notes

What were Dag Hammarskjöld’s contributions?

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Learn more about the Secretary-General’s vision of the United Nations in the 1950s [Video by the United Nations]

About the Secretary-General
Dag Hammarskjöld was a Swedish economist who was appointed as the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 7 April 1953. He was re-elected to serve another term in September 1957. Hammarskjöld was an exemplary diplomat who made remarkable contributions to the international organisation, such as the institutionalisation of peacekeeping and conflict prevention.

The Sino-American hostage crisis: ‘Peking Diplomacy’
Following the end of the Korean War, the Secretary-General visited the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai to secure the release of fifteen American pilots in January 1955. These pilots were captured by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) during the Korean conflict.

Hammarskjöld responded with sympathy to two claims made by Zhou Enlai, namely (1) the argument that communist China had wrongly been denied admission to the United Nations, and (2) criticism by China that the United States had unduly refused to allow Chinese students to return to the People’s Republic of China… But at the end of the talks, (Zhou) agreed to comply with two of the Secretary-General’s requests. He agreed that the People’s Republic of China would comply with the policy terms regarding the treatment of foreign prisoners, announced at Geneva, which implied lenient sentences.

An excerpt from “Peace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency: Rethinking Human Security and Ethics in the Spirit of Dag Hammarskjöld” by Carsten Stahn and Henning Melber.

After the conclusion of the visit, Hammarskjöld described his diplomatic approach as the ‘Peking Formula‘, which referred to his role as the ‘Secretary-General under the Charter of the United Nations and not as a representative of what was stated in the General Assembly resolution’.

Eventually, PRC agreed to release the US airmen, reflecting the success of the Secretary-General’s personal touch in resolving the dispute in spite of the growing Sino-American tensions.

Peacekeeping: UNEF
During the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956, Hammarskjöld conceptualised peacekeeping and applied it to the first UN peacekeeping force – the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF).

There are three guiding principles of peacekeeping:

  • Consent of the parties
  • Impartiality
  • Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate

Ever since, these principles have set the standard for subsequent UN missions.

The most telling aspect of UNEF’s creation, and ultimately the most problematic from the Canadian perspective, was the need to respect Egypt’s sovereignty and obtain Nasser’s consent to place the peacekeeping force on Egyptian territory.

…The speed with which Hammarskjöld was able to organize the peacekeeping mission was nothing short of incredible. By 6 November, in just over two days, he had been able to sketch out the basics of the mission, and less than two weeks later the first troops landed on the ground in Egypt.

An excerpt from “Pearson’s Peacekeepers: Canada and the United Nations Emergency Force, 1956-67” by Michael K. Carroll.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political effectiveness of the Dag Hammarskjöld in fulfilling his duties as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the organisational structure of the United Nations. We provide summary notes, essay and source based case study practices to reinforce your thematic knowledge and refine the essential writing techniques.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC H2 History Tuition Online - What happens when the General Assembly convenes - United Nations Essay Notes

What happens when the General Assembly convenes?

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Examine the developments within the ‘World Parliament’ to understand the contributions of the United Nations [Video by the United Nations]

The World Parliament
As one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, the General Assembly involves all 193 sovereign states to participate in global affairs. In comparison with the Security Council, the General Assembly functions as a representative facet of the United Nations to allow fair and equal political participation by all member states. Each member is given the right to express its opinion and vote on various matters.

The Three Types of Sessions
As stated in Article 20 of the Charter, the “General Assembly shall meet in regular annual sessions and in such special sessions as occasion may require”. There are three types of sessions: Regular sessions, special sessions and emergency special sessions. Let’s take a look at each type to comprehend the significance of its role in the United Nations.

1. Regular Sessions
Each year, the General Assembly holds the regular sessions, starting from September to December, and then resumes in January. The session will conclude once all issues on the stated agenda are addressed.

At the beginning of each regular session, the Assembly holds a general debate in which the member states express their views on a wide range of matters of international concern. Due to the great number of questions which the Assembly is called upon to consider (there were 154 separate agenda items at the 1988 session of the Assembly,) for example, the Assembly allocates most questions to its seven main committees:

An excerpt from “The United Nations: Structure & Functions Of An International Organisation” by Rumki Basu.

These committees address diverse matters, such as disarmament and related international security matters, economic and financial matters, social humanitarian and cultural matters, decolonisation, administrative and budgetary matters.

2. Special Sessions
The General Assembly may conduct special sessions at the request of the Security Council or a majority of member states. As of 2020, 31 special sessions have been convened by the General Assembly.

Notable special sessions included the deliberation of Palestine (1947-48) and the financial expenses incurred by the United Nations peacekeeping operations during the Suez and Congo Crises (1963).

Given that peacekeeping was specified in the Charter, the General Assembly deliberated on the legality of peacekeeping missions. The International Court of Justice delivered its advisory opinion on 20 July 1962 and recognised that peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and the Congo should constitute “expenses of the Organization” as stated in Article 17(2) of the Charter.

Recognizing the necessity of sharing equitably the financial burden of peace-keeping operations to the extent not otherwise covered by agreed arrangements, …

(a) The financing of such operations is the collective responsibility of all States Members of theUnited Nations;

An excerpt from the “Fourth Special Session” conducted by the General Assembly (14 May – 27 June 1963).

3. Emergency Special Sessions
Resolution 377A(V), also known as “Uniting for peace”, allows the General Assembly to convene in an emergency special session within 24 hours of a request by the Security Council or a majority of member states.

Between 1956 to 1982, nine emergency special sessions have been conducted by the General Assembly in response to situations where there appears to be “a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression”.

Although the “Uniting for peace” empowers the General Assembly to investigate serious threats to peace, these emergency special sessions did not always lead to favourable outcomes.

In its second emergency special session, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to send an observation commission to Hungary, ‘to investigate the situation caused by foreign intervention in Hungary’. While the Secretary-General named members of the commission, the Soviet Union and the Hungarian government never granted them access to the country, but the commission produced a report on the basis of over 100 interviews mostly with Hungarians who had fled the country.

An excerpt from “The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice Since 1945” by Vaughan Lowe, Adam Roberts, Jennifer Welsh and Dominik Zaum.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the United Nations General Assembly has fulfilled its Charter-defined aims?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the United Nations and its organisational structure. We conduct thematic content revision classes, provide learning resources and practices to be prepared for the GCE A Level History examinations.

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JC History Tuition - What happened in the Hungarian uprising - United Nations Essay Notes

What happened in the Hungarian uprising?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Examine the historical developments that affected the politics of Hungary during the early stages of the Cold War [Video by Simple History]

Historical Context: De-Stalinisation
On 25 February 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev delivered a secret speech titled ‘On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences’. Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s style of leadership, which proved shocking to many Soviet officials.

Comrades, we must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all; we must draw the proper conclusions concerning both ideological-theoretical and practical work.

…Secondly, to continue systematically and consistently the work done by the party’s central committee during the last years… characterized by the wide practice of criticism and self-criticism.

An excerpt from Khrushchev’s Secret Speech, 25 Febrary 1956.

In response to the surprising development barely three years after Stalin’s death, thousands of protestors gathered at the streets on 23 October, demanding democratisation. Initially, the protests appeared to have succeeded.

The Soviet Response
Hungarian politician Imre Nagy became Prime Minister. As the face of the Hungarian Revolution, Nagy called for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Hungary and promised democratic reforms. However, Nagy’s unilateral withdrawal of Hungary from the Warsaw Pact proved disastrous.

On 4 November 1956, the Soviet Union conducted a military invasion of Hungary. Nagy was tried and executed two years later. The violent confrontation led to growing questions by Western observers on the extent of Soviet control in Eastern Europe, in spite of Khrushchev’s de-Stalinisation that pledged the end of a repressive rule.

The United Nations: Too little, too late?
The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 120, considering the grave situation created by the USSR in suppression the Hungarian people. However, Soviet Union vetoed. Although the Security Council managed to invoke the ‘Uniting for Peace’ Resolution [UNGA Resolution 377A(V)] to call for an emergency special session, the United Nations was unable to conduct an investigation on the political situation in Hungary.

The Soviet Union suppressed the Hungarian uprising in the fall of 1956 and executed Imre Nagy, the government’s reformist leader. World public opinion was just as aroused by Hungary as Suez. The General Assembly condemned the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union ignored the condemnation. Hammarskjöld came up with no dramatic gestures to put himself into the conflict. At the height of the Cold War, the U.N. was powerless to bend any of the two superpowers to its will.

An excerpt from “United Nations: A History” by Stanley Meisler.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Soviet Union obstructed the functions of the United Nations during the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the United Nations. We provide a structured learning process for students to comprehend the organisational structure of the United Nations. You will receive study notes and reference outlines for essay and source based case study questions.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC H2 History Tuition Online - An Agenda for Peace - United Nations Essay Notes

An Agenda for Peace

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Learn more about the role of United Nations peacekeeping to understand its relevance in the post-Cold War world [Video by the United Nations]

The report
In 1992, the Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali submitted a report titled “An Agenda for Peace: Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping“. Earlier, the Security Council requested the Secretariat to assess the strengths and limitations of peacekeeping.

Changing context: New challenges
In the post-Cold War world, the circumstances have changed. Boutros-Ghali outlined these shifts in his report:

In the course of the past few years the immense ideological barrier that for decades gave rise to distrust and hostility and the terrible tools of destruction that were their inseparable companions has collapsed.

… With the end of the cold war there have been no such vetoes since 31 May 1990, and demands on the United Nations have surged. Its security arm, once disabled by circumstances it was not created or equipped to control, has emerged as a central instrument for the prevention and resolution of conflicts and for the preservation of peace.

An excerpt from “An Agenda for Peace” report, 17 June 1992.

In view of the changing global context, the Secretary-General proposed a few key concepts, such as preventive diplomacy and peace-making.

Preventive diplomacy
In other words, the United Nations should intervene through the conduct of diplomacy before conflicts break out or escalate. This course of action can be undertaken by the Secretary-General, Security Council or General Assembly.

Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali established six regional divisions within the consolidated Department for Political Affairs whose principal task was to gather and analyze information to assist him in preventing conflicts.

… between March and December 1992, the Department for Political Affairs had undertaken thirty-one missions to various trouble spots on the initiative either of the Secteray-General or a member state.

An excerpt from “Preventive Diplomacy at the UN” by Bertrand G. Ramcharan.

Preventive diplomacy was achieved through efforts like confidence-building measures, fact-finding and the use of early warning systems. Its application was observed in the above-mentioned missions in potential conflict zones like Moldova, Haiti and Tajikistan.

Peacemaking
In addition to preventive diplomacy, the report also proposed peacemaking. As stated in the report, the United Nations bear the “responsibility to try to bring hostile parties to agreement by peaceful means”. Such efforts are carried out with reference to Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter (Pacific Settlement of Disputes).

In practice, peacemaking was carried out in response to the conflicts in Cambodia and Somalia. The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was supported by Yasushi Akashi, Special Representative in Cambodia, who combined the application of peacekeeping and peacemaking to oversee civil administration, demobilisation and disarmament of military factions.

However, the successes of peacemaking were limited in Somalia. The escalation of the civil war gave rise to casualties that resulted in eventual departure of the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM).

UN/US intervention in the civil war, initiated in December 1992 and entered into with high hopes both of saving millions from starvation and restoring peace and stability to the country, ending ignominiously in the killing first of 25 Pakistani peacekeepers on 6th June 1993, and then of 18 American Rangers in October 1993. President Clinton soon announced that US troops would be withdrawn from Somalia and the complete withdrawal of UN peacekeeping troops had been effected by March 1995, with few of the mandate objectives of UNOSOM II achieved.

An excerpt from “Peacekeeping and Peacemaking: Towards Effective Intervention in Post-Cold War Conflicts” by Tom Woodhouse, Robert Bruce and Malcolm Dando.

Funding issues
Lastly, the report described how peacekeeping operations during the Cold War were hampered by arrears that amounted to over $800 million. Between 1945 and 1987, 13 peacekeeping operations were established. These operations have cost nearly $8.3 billion in total. As such, Boutros-Ghali raised the suggestion for member nations for “their peace-keeping contributions to be financed from defence, rather than foreign affairs”.

The Secretary-General made three proposals to address the finance issue. The following is one of the proposals.

Proposal three: This suggested the establishment of a United Nations Peace Endowment Fund, with an initial target of $1 billion. The Fund would be created by a combination of assessed and voluntary contributions, with the latter being sought from Governments, the private sector as well as individuals. Once the Fund reached its target level, the proceeds from the investment of its principal would be used to finance the initial costs of authorized peace-keeping operations, other conflict resolution measures and related activities

An excerpt from “An Agenda for Peace” report, 17 June 1992.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the effectiveness of the UN reforms in maintain the relevance of the organisation in maintaining international peace and security in the post-Cold War era?

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JC H1 H2 History Tuition Online - Criticisms of the veto - United Nations Essay Notes

Criticisms of the veto

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security

Explore the issue with the veto to understand its significance on the United Nations. [Video by NowThisWorld]

Yea or nay?
As discussed in the previous article on the role of the Security Council, the Permanent Five (P5) Members possess special voting rights to either support or block resolutions.

Article 27(3) of the UN Charter states that consensus within the Security Council is only made possible with the “affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members“.

This means that if at least one of the P5 members exercised the “right to veto” (negative vote), the resolution would not be approved.

The use of veto by P5 members
Although the Charter states that the United Nations was formed with the primary aim to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war“, the repeated use of the veto has sparked criticism among member nations over the relevance of the international organisation.

The following illustrations highlight the veto problem ever since the UN’s inception.

Security Council Vetoes - Bloomberg Opinion
Illustration by Bloomberg Opinion on the use of vetoes
Security Council Vetoes - Vocativ
Statistics by Vocativ on the use of vetoes

A flawed creation or a necessary evil?
One of the main criticisms was that the veto had allowed the P5 members to wield disproportionate powers, thereby creating an unrepresentative structure in the United Nations. On the other hand, defenders of the veto argued that the veto was essential in retaining membership of Great Powers and averting another world war.

For most UN Member states, Article 27 UN Charter is a codification of the painful reality that some States are more equal than others. This idea is obviously at odds with the principals laid down in the UN Charter, such as Article 1(2), pursuant to which the UN aims at developing friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights of peoples, and Article 2(1) which affirms the principle of sovereign equality as one of the basic pillars of the world body.

The concerns underpinning the insertion of Article 27 were well-founded in light of the demise of the League of Nations. This organisation never managed to live up to its aspirations due to the requirement of unanimity among all members of its Council on the one hand, and the lack of support from various power States on the other hand… None of the P-5 has abandoned ship. Moreover, no direct military confrontation has occurred between them.

An excerpt from “Security council reform: a new veto for a new century?” by Jan Wouters and Tom Ruys.

Reforms to the veto mechanism
In 2015, France proposed the practice of ‘veto restraint‘ in the United Nations Security Council, particularly for conflicts of mass atrocities and genocide. Its basis was that the veto should not be abused.

Interestingly, France early on broke ranks with the other permanent members of the Security Council and led the third initiative calling for veto restraint.

… Veto restraint in atrocity situations was initially suggested in 2001 by French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine at a roundtable sponsored by the ICISS in Paris. He called for the permanent members to create a “code of conduct” for themselves and not to apply their veto to block humanitarian action where their own national interests were involved.

An excerpt from “Existing Legal Limits to Security Council Veto Power in the Face of Atrocity Crimes” by Jennifer Trahan.

Another proposed reform was the expansion of the Permanent Membership to create a more representative structure in the Security Council. The G4 nations, comprising of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil, asserted that their admission would maintain the relevance of the principal organ.

The concept of new permanency is prefaced on the notion that the current council does not reflect the geopolitical realities of the twenty-first century. In short, the council’s permanent membership is outdated. To address the disequilibrium, the G4 proposes the inclusion of six new permanent seats and five new elected seats.

An excerpt from “UN Security Council Reform” by Peter Nadin.

However, any reform made to the Security Council membership composition requires full consensus from the existing Permanent Members.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the reasons for the limited effectiveness of the proposed reforms to the Security Council.

Join our JC History Tuition to derive a better understanding of the veto mechanism and other critical areas of study for the United Nations. We provide H1 and H2 History Tuition classes to empower students to organise their reading, thinking and writing techniques. Through a comprehensive learning programme, students will become more acquainted with the content and confident in their methods of expression for the GCE A Level History examination.

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