JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the UN Responsibility to Protect - JC History Essay Notes

What is the UN Responsibility to Protect?

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 origins of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to understand how this UN reform was introduced in the post-Cold War era [Video by Thomson Reuters Foundation].

The Problem with Sovereignty of Nation-States
A sovereign nation has the political rights to dictate the policies that affect its citizens within its national boundaries. This includes the introduction of new laws as well as modification of existing ones.

Following the disastrous events of the Rwandan Genocide (1994) and Bosnian War (1992-1995), United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) published the Millennium Report to highlight the inaction of the international organisation. Annan asserted that sovereignty of nation-states should not take precedence over the ‘gross and systematic violation of human rights’.

“…if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?”

We the Peoples, by United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

As such, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ushered an ‘decade of humanitarian intervention’ in the post-Cold War period. Peacekeepers expanded their role to peacebuilding, as such by its involvement in the political transition of Cambodia and East Timor.

To recap, let’s take a look at the UN Charter that outlined the importance of sovereignty:

Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.

Article 2(7) of the UN Charter

The crux of the issue lies with the unwillingness of member states to allow UN intervention as external involvement is being perceived as threats to their sovereign rights. Thus, the international organisation is severely constrained by this Charter limitation.

The creation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
In September 2000, the Canadian government set up the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) after the bombing campaign carried out by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War (1999).

In December 2001, the ICISS published “The Responsibility to Protect” report to assess the “right of humanitarian intervention” in view of past events such as the legality and morality of military actions.

A. State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself.

B. Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.

The Responsibility to Protect: Core Principles, ICISS Report, December 2001

In short, the state must bear the responsibility to look after the interests of its people as part of its sovereign rights. Should it fails to do so, the international community can override the decisions of the state to look after the interests of the affected people.

On 2 December 2004, the UNSG Kofi Annan addressed the General Assembly, highlighting the involvement of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change to “assess current threats to international peace and security” and “make recommendations” for collective security in the 21st Century.

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

2005 World Summit Outcome, 24 October 2005

Application of the R2P: NATO’s intervention in Libya (2011)
The R2P was invoked due to the state sanctioned attacks on the Libyan civilians during the “17 February Revolution”. The Libyan government was led by a despotic ruler, commonly known as “Colonel Gaddafi”.

The UNSC adopted Resolution 1970 on 26 February 2011 to condemn Gaddafi’s use of lethal force against protesters in Libya. Sanctions were imposed on the Gaddafi family, such as the freezing of assets.

On 19 March 2011, NATO led a coalition force against the Libyan dictator. The NATO campaign lasted for 7 months, which led to the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

However, NATO’s controversial involvement in Libya went beyond the protection of the citizens as it led to a regime change. As such, critics argued that Western military intervention was largely driven by the desire for resource acquisition, given that Libya was one of the world’s largest oil producers.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following questions to understand the topic:
– Examine the effectiveness of the Responsibility to Protect as a UN reform in keeping the organisation relevant in the 21st Century [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to analyse the significance of the United Nations in the post-Cold War period. Also, learn more about 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. Call 9689 0510 for more information.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What was the Fisheries case about (Iceland v. United Kingdom) - JC History Essay Notes

What was the Fisheries Jurisdiction case about?

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 developments of the three Cold Wars that affected UK-Iceland relations.

Dollar and Cents: The Significance of Icelandic Fisheries
Iceland has one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The fishing industry is recognised as a key pillar of its economy. It employs nearly 5.3% of its total workforce. It exports a wide range of fish and seafood such as the valuable cod and haddock. Currently, Iceland maintains a 200 nautical miles exclusive fishing zone.

Did you know that the UK spends about £1.2 billion on Fish & Chips annually? Most of UK’s cod and haddock comes from Icelandic and Norwegian Seas.

A Fishy Situation: Disputes over the Delineation of Fishing Zones
In 1948, the Icelandic government passed a law to establish conservation zones for fishing. In 1952, a 4-mile zone was drawn. Six years later, a new 12-mile fishery limit was made exclusive for Icelandic fisherman. However, the United Kingdom (UK) rejected the validity of the Icelandic regulations, even though the latter’s fishermen continued to fish within this newly-declared 12-mile limit.

The First Cod War (1958-1961)
Once the newly-introduced Icelandic law came into force on 1 September 1958, the first Cod War began. The British deployed their four warships from the Royal Navy (HMS Eastbourne, HMS Russell, HMS Palliser and HMS Hound) to protect their fishing trawlers. Likewise, Iceland sent eight small coastguard patrol vessels, including the largest frigate known as the Thor.

The furious Icelandic officials threatened to withdraw Iceland’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) unless mediation was carried out. Eventually, NATO agreed to engage in formal and informal mediations to resolve the matter.

Both the UK and Iceland reached a settlement in the Exchange of Notes (known as the 1961 Agreement) on 8 June 1961. Both parties agreed to a 12-mile fishery zone situated around Iceland.

The United Kingdom Government will no longer object to a twelve-mile fishery zone around Iceland measured from the base lines specified in paragraph 2 below which relate solely to the delimitation of that zone...

The Icelandic Government will not object to vessels registered in the United Kingdom fishing within the outer six miles of the fishery zone

Exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and Iceland, 8 June 1961.

The Second Cod War (1972-1973)
Yet, the consensus did not last as Iceland extended its fisheries jurisdiction to a 50-mile zone on 28 November 1971. Iceland claimed that the 1961 agreement was no longer in effect.

Many Western European states opposed Iceland’s extension, but the Icelandic government maintained its position, arguing that the Cod Wars were part of a bigger conflict against ‘imperialism’ and the achievement of economic independence.

On 1 September 1972, the Iceland law was enforced. Many British and West German trawlers continued to fish within the newly-declared zone. This time, the Icelandic Coast Guard ships were armed with trawl wire cutters to undermine non-Icelandic vessels. The second confrontation was tense as British and Icelandic ships rammed each other.

Fortunately, NATO oversaw a series of talks between the UK and Iceland, starting on 16 September 1973. The outcome in Iceland’s favour as the British warships were recalled a month later.

The Court’s ruling: The crystallisation of customary laws
Additionally, the UK filed an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 14 April 1972 to contest Iceland’s unilateral decision to extend the fishing zone. It pointed out to the Court that Iceland’s claim to zone of exclusive fisheries jurisdiction extending to 50 miles contravenes international law.

On 25 July 1974, the Court ruled in favour of the UK. It concluded that Iceland’s extension to a 50-mile zone in 1971 was invalid, given that Iceland could not exclude the UK from the newly-defined areas between the fishery limits decided in the 1961 agreement. Iceland had to adhere to the 12-mile fishery zone jurisdiction.

Also, ICJ advised both parties to undertake negotiations to resolve their differences amicably. For example, the British agreed to limit fishing activities to areas within the designated limit of Iceland.

Subsequently, two concepts were accepted as part of customary law. First, a fishery zone up to a 12-mile limit from the baseline is acceptable. Second, preferential fishing rights should be granted to a coastal state that has special dependence on its coastal fisheries.

The Third Cod War (1975-1976)
Following the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) in 1975, the Icelandic government again announced its intentions to extend its fishery limits to 200 nautical miles from its coast. There were several clashes between Icelandic and British ships, including ramming and net cutting incidents.

The Cod Wars - The Guardian
Cartoon Illustration on ‘The Cod Wars’ from The Guardian [2 June 1976]

On 1 June 1976, NATO mediated sessions for the two parties. An agreement was made, in which the UK could keep 24 trawlers within the 200 nautical miles and their catch was capped at 50,000 tons.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the International Court of Justice was effective in ensuring adherence to the international law [to be discussed in class].

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn to apply your knowledge to source-based case study questions (SBCS), including the topic on the ICJ and UN. We provide summary notes to consolidate the key issues for each topic such that you can study efficiently and effectively. We also offer 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. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the A Level H1 History syllabus

New A Level H1 History syllabus

Changes to the GCE A Level H1 History syllabus
Similar to H2 History, the A Level syllabus for H1 History (8821) has been reviewed and modified. It is imperative that you take note of these changes as examination format and contents have been changed from 2017 and beyond.

If you require additional references, please view the documents provided by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB): H1 History syllabus for 2020; H1 History syllabus for 2021.

1. Format of Assessment
For the examination structure, the H1 History (8821) syllabus features only one paper:

  • The Cold War and the Modern World (1945-2000)

The duration of examination is three hours. Within the paper, there are two sections: Source-Based Case Study (Section A) and Essays (Section B).

1a. Section A: Source-Based Case Study
The first section requires students to analyse five sources and answer two sub-questions. These sources are either text-based (e.g. academic publication) or visual-based (e.g. political cartoon – refer to our post on political cartoons). Bear in mind that both primary and secondary sources could be used in this section.

Section A carries 40 marks in total, which is 40% of the overall weighting.

For the part (a) question, students must compare two sources. It carries ten marks. For the part (b) question, students must analyse an assertion and refer to the given five sources. Application of contextual evidence may be required to answer these sub-questions.

1b. Section B: Essays
The other section involves essay writing, in which students have to complete two essays in Section B. For the first essay question, students must select 1 out of 2 essay questions that are set on Theme II (The Cold War and Asia, 1945-1991). For the second essay question, they must choose 1 out of 2 essay questions that are set on Theme III (The Cold War and the United Nations, 1945-2000).

Each essay question carries 30 marks. In total, Section B carries 60 marks, which is 60% of the overall weighting.

2. Syllabus Content
Next, we will now examine the areas of study to understand the list of topics covered for A Level H1 History (8821). At the end of the study, you should develop a keen sense of understanding about the Cold War and how its local, regional and global impacts.

2a. Theme I: Understanding the Cold War, 1945-1991
The first theme is strictly for the assessment of Section A, Source-Based Case Study. You will examine three stages of the Cold War to understand how it began and ended. First, the Emergence of Bipolarity after WWII discusses the possibly reasons that explain the outbreak of the Cold War. Then, A World Divided by the Cold War discusses two major events that explained the ‘”globalisation” of the ideological conflict, namely the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Finally, the End of Bipolarity focuses on the study of how the USSR collapsed as well as the popular interpretations for the end of the Cold War.

2b. Theme II: The Cold War and Asia, 1945-1991
The second theme is applied in Section B, Essays. In this theme, you will learn more about the effects of Cold War in shaping the diplomatic relations of superpowers and a rising great power: China. In Superpower relations with China (1950-1979), you will analyse the historical developments that led to the notable Sino-Soviet Split. Also, a major turning point in the 1970s will be studied, such as the Sino-American Rapprochement.

The second half of Theme II features The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991). At the regional level, you will learn more about the motivations that led to the formation of the ASEAN organisation as well as the significance of the Second Indochina War (more commonly known as the ‘Vietnam War’). At the national level, you will examine how the ongoing Cold War threats influenced Singapore’s Foreign Policy from 1965 to 1991.

2c. Theme III: The Cold War and the United Nations, 1945-2000
As for the final third theme, which is also assessed in the essay section, you will develop a fundamental understanding of the United Nations (UN), which plays a central role of maintaining international peace and security. This is achieved through a brief examination of the Organisational Structure of the UN, which features the three key organs: Security Council, General Assembly and the Secretary-General.

As for the second half of Theme III, you will focus on six case studies to assess the Effectiveness of UN Peacekeeping Operations in Maintaining Peace and Security. A thorough review of each case study is paramount, given that past examination questions were set on specific cases.


If you are looking for writing support, do consider joining our JC History Tuition programmes. You will receive organised study notes, essay outline references and source-based case study questions. Furthermore, we conduct thematic content discussion to reinforce your historical understanding of the Cold War. Class practices are held regularly to ensure that you observe progress as you gear up for the GCE A Level examination.

On a separate but related note, we offer 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the A Level H2 History syllabus

New A Level H2 History syllabus

Changes to the GCE A Level H2 History syllabus
From 2017 onwards, the A Level History syllabus has been reviewed and updated. In contrast to the previous syllabus, there are some changes to the topics covered in the essay and source-based case study questions. Also, changes to the examination format are made. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to these developments as you gear up for the final examination. In this article, we will be looking at the syllabus requirements for H2 History (9752).

For more information, please refer to the comprehensive document provided by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB): H2 History Syllabus for 2020; H2 History Syllabus for 2021

1. Format of Assessment
For the examination format, the H2 History (9752) syllabus features two papers:

  • Paper 1: Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)
  • Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence-2000)

Students are required to sit for two separate papers (dates are usually announced in the first few months of the examination year). Within each paper, there are two key sections: Source-Based Case Study and Essays. Since the format for Paper 1 and Paper 2 is identical, we will be examining the two sections in a paper.

1a. Section A: Source-Based Case Study
The first section features the Source-Based Case Study (SBCS in short). Students are required to analyse six sources and answer two sub-questions. These sources can be in the form of written or visual texts. For example, a press release by the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. Alternatively, the source can be a political cartoon that depicts an issue or individual. You can learn more about visual-based sources in our post.

In total, Section A carries 40 marks, which is 20% of the overall weighting.

For the part (a) question, students must compare two sources and answer in the context of the question. It carries ten marks.

Compare and contrast the evidence provided in Sources A and B about Reagan’s motivations behind the Strategic Defense Initiative. [10]

example of the part (a) question

For the part (b) question, students must study all six sources and test the given assertion. This part carries 30 marks.

How far do Sources A-F support the assertion that the Cold War ended mainly because of Reagan? [30]

example of the part (b) Question

1b. Section B: Essays
The second section features the essays. Students are required to answer two questions from Section B.

They have to select 1 out of 2 essay questions in the first set (Paper 1 – Theme II; Paper 2 – Theme I). Then, students must do the same by selecting 1 out of 2 essay questions in the other set (Paper 1 – Theme III; Paper 2 – Theme II).

Within the Section B itself, there will be the ‘EITHER‘ and ‘OR‘ stated clearly to show the available choices for students to pick their preferred choice of question to attempt.

Each essay question carries 30 marks. Therefore, the total marks for Section B is 60 marks, which is 30% of the overall weighting.

How far was the United Nations able to overcome the challenge of Cold War rivalry?

Example of the section b essay question

One important point to remember is that for the Paper 2 Section B, students must compare at least three countries as case studies when supporting their arguments.

2. Syllabus Content
Now that we have examined the examination format, we will now move on to the areas of study for H2 History (9752). Given the broad coverage of content, this article will provide a brief summary of the topics tested for A Level.

2a. Paper 1: Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)
For Paper 1 (which is formerly known as ‘International History’), there are three major themes covered:

  • Theme I: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991) [SBCS]
  • Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000) [Essay]
  • Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security [Essay]

For Theme I, students will examine the Cold War topic from a chronological order: starting with its origins, followed by its internationalisation and finally its eventual end. The Cold War topic is an overarching theme that is essential for A Level given its widespread effects not only in Europe, but also in Southeast Asia. This means that your knowledge of the Cold War can be applied to Paper 2 as well.

For Theme II, students will learn more about the Growth and Problems in the Global Economy as well as the Rise of Asian Tigers (South Korea and Taiwan). This topic can be analysed both from the economic and political perspectives. Notably, the establishment of multilateral financial institutions (IMF, World Bank & WTO) still affects the modern world in many ways.

For Theme III, students are required to be familiar with the formation of the United Nations as well as its application in Peacekeeping Operations. Given the ever-changing and ever-expanding functions of the United Nations, the A Level H2 History syllabus will only cover four organs: Security Council, General Assembly, Secretary-General and the International Court of Justice. For UN Reforms, there will be changes to the content coverage, particularly the section about the ‘rise of regionalism and regional organisations’.

2b. Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence-2000)
For Paper 1, there are three main themes as well:

  • Theme I: Search for Political Stability [Essay]
  • Theme II: Economic Development after Independence [Essay]
  • Theme III: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation [SBCS]

For Theme I, students will learn about the Approaches to Governance and the Approaches to National Unity. This theme will provide a historical study on how various Southeast Asian colonies (as well as Thailand) became independent after World War Two. Political concepts, such as ‘Parliamentary Democracy’ and ‘Authoritarianism’ will be covered as well.

For Theme II, students are required to learn about the Paths to Economic Development and the Asian Financial Crisis. Similar to Paper 1 Theme II (Global Economy), the application of general economic concepts is carried out to understand how Southeast Asian nations became prosperous. Additionally, there will be a section dedicated to understand the causes and consequences of the 1997 financial crisis.

For Theme III, students are expected to be familiar with Inter-state Tensions and Co-operation as well as the establishment of the ASEAN. This theme is largely relevant in raising awareness on the political complexities of inter-state relations, given the persistence of such challenges in the modern world (e.g. South China Sea dispute). Furthermore, students will learn how this newly-formed regional organisation strives to maintain regional peace and security through various methods.


You can sign up for our JC History Tuition to study productively. Our programme features summary notes, essay outline references and source-based case study practice questions. Our structured curriculum will ensure that your time is well-spent as you learn in a progressive way.

Furthermore, you can consider register for our JC tuition, like 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. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How to answer an A Level History essay question

How to answer an A Level History essay question?

Essay Writing: Revisited
In contrast to the typical posts that feature specific themes, such as the Cold War and the United Nations, I will re-cap on the critical aspects of essay writing, which is for Section B. This is done in view of the GCE A Level examination for H1 and H2 History in November 2019. Previously, I have also posted a similar article that highlighted relevant areas of study.

1. Be familiar with the syllabus requirements
It is important to understand the featured themes that are covered in the examination. By doing so, you can derive a clear strategy for the actual day.

(a) For H2 History (9752), there are Papers 1 and 2:

  • For Paper 1, you are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy and ONE essay question from Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security.
  • For Paper 2, you are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme I: Search for Political Stability and ONE essay question from Theme II: Economic Development after Independence

(b) For H1 History (8821), there is one paper, but the examination format is identical to the H2 syllabus:

  • You are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme II: The Cold War and Asia
  • Also, you have to answer ONE essay question from Theme III: The Cold War and the United Nations

(c) Be familiar with the topics tested within each theme
Within each theme, there are several topics that students are expected to learn and apply in the essay section. For example, H2 History Paper 2 Theme II has two main areas: ‘Paths to economic development’ and ‘Asian Financial Crisis’.

Although some students hold the assumption that they can spot, meaning that they focus on specific topics, while excluding others, it is a risky strategy to take.

Although some students hold the assumption that they can spot, meaning that they focus on specific topics, while excluding others, it is a risky strategy to take. In view of the recent 2019 A Level examination (for H2 History), the ‘Asian Financial Crisis’ was not featured in Section B. We have gathered feedback from students and some revealed that there were those who were unable to write the second essay due to the lack of content familiarity.

Therefore, our concluding remark is that you are strongly advised against spotting as it can result in such disastrous consequences. Instead, it is crucial to cover all relevant topics within each theme. At least, you should cover the fundamental content for the topic that you are less likely to select during the examination.

2. Read the essay question carefully
Cliché as it sounds, this word of advice should not be ignored. From the question itself, you can derive the given perspective as well as the contrasting viewpoint. Misinterpretation is a typical issue that some students encounter in their study of the subject.

(a) What is the question looking for?
In History essay writing, students are required to analyse the extent of agreement based on the given perspective set by the question. Look out for phrases like ‘how far do you agree’ and ‘how important‘.

(b) Are we allowed to introduce other factors/perspectives not featured in the question?
This is a major consideration as the decision to introduce irrelevant factors in a narrow-based question can compromise your essay grade.

The following are two essay questions:

  • How far do you agree that the Cold War hindered the effectiveness of the United Nations?
  • How far do you agree that the Cold War was the most significant obstacle that hindered the effectiveness of the United Nations?

Clearly, we can observe that the second essay question is broader in nature as students are allowed to introduce other factors besides the ‘Cold War’ to answer the question. In contrast, the first question is more specific than the latter.

3. Manage your time wisely
In general, everyone is given the same amount of time for the A Level examination – 3 hours. To the uninitiated, 180 minutes may be perceived as long. However, one must be aware of the need to answer 1 source-based case study question and 2 essay questions within the time limit.

To the uninitiated, 180 minutes may be perceived as long. However, one must be aware of the need to answer 1 source-based case study question and 2 essay questions within the time limit.

Furthermore, students are assessed based on their ability to perform under pressure, such as deriving a clear essay structure and forming well-analysed arguments that are backed with adequate evidence. As such, it is folly to leave practice to the last phase of your two-year study.

You should set time aside for timed practices, even if it is for one essay question. When you are attempting the timed practice, you are not only reviewing your content familiarity, but also re-wiring your brain to think fast and clearly. Over time, you develop the quick-thinking skills to form arguments and critique the given perspective effectively.

4. Prepare yourself thoroughly
More importantly, you should be mentally prepared for the A Level examination. Enter the examination venue with the anticipation that there may be ‘abstract-sounding’ questions that are intended to throw students off. Again, some students who sat for the 2019 A Level H2 History examination have shared with us that certain essay questions were difficult to attempt due to their style of phrasing.

Enter the examination venue with the anticipation that there may be ‘abstract-sounding’ questions that are intended to throw students off.

Indeed, from our observations as well, some essay questions tested narrow areas that were seemingly challenging to address at first sight. Yet, if the standard thinking and answering steps were to be applied, such abstract questions can still be answered.

Therefore, one final tip for essay writing is to practise as many questions as you can. Do not simply refer to past year preliminary examination questions and attempt to do so right away. Instead, you should be aware of the possible areas of testing to cover the fundamental aspects. Then, you can intensify your efforts by answering complex questions. Find the right balance of questions to have adequate time spent on each theme. Besides, you can gather feedback from your teacher, tutor or classmate to check if there are other arguments to broaden your discussion.


Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we conduct regular essay writing skills development workshops to refine your thinking and writing techniques. During these lessons, you will receive concise study notes, practice questions and reference answers to enhance your study efforts. Also, you can consult our JC History Tutor to identify your areas of improvement, such as essay structure, perspective setting and evidence explanation.

Also, you can consider joining our 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.


On a separate note, this is the final article in the 52-week cycle of 2019. It has been an enriching and meaningful year as I have covered diverse topics relating to A Level History. At the start of 2019, I have made the decision to embark on this endeavour primarily to provide students with a useful educational platform to access learning resources conveniently. Although some would claim that the freer access to the Internet has made information gathering easier, I believe that this website will ease the search process and empower students to learn purposefully. In anticipation of the upcoming decade, I will continue to expand on this platform. Let’s look forward to another series of informative, insightful and interesting articles!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the consequences of the Vietnam War - JC History Essay Notes

What were the consequences of the Vietnam War?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Vietnam War (1955-75)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Contextual Analysis
In the previous article, we have examined the historical developments of the first and second Indochina Wars. Next, it is imperative to consider the political impacts of the Vietnam War on the superpowers – USA and Soviet Union.

1. Impacts on the USA: ‘Vietnam Syndrome’
Notably, the withdrawal of USA from Vietnam was largely influenced by anti-war sentiments. Many young Americans were against the drafting process. Also, the growing disillusionment and exposed war atrocities (especially the ‘My Lai massacre’) created the impetus for citizens to demand the immediate withdrawal.

Furthermore, critics questioned the necessity of US involvement in the politics of other countries even though many still supported the notion of ‘defending democracy’. As these doubts surfaced, some argued that US Presidents should not be given extensive powers to wage wars without Congress approval.

1.1. The War Powers Act
In November 1973, the War Powers Act (also known as the ‘War Powers Resolution’) was passed as a congressional resolution to curtail the US President’s ability to conduct foreign military campaigns. Its main purpose was to prevent US from being trapped in costly and protracted wars, like the conflict in Vietnam.

This Act required the president to seek congressional approval before American troops can be deployed overseas. For instance, the President has to inform the Congress within 48 hours.

Although President Nixon vetoed the law by claiming that it was ‘unconstitutional and dangerous’, the Congress overrode his action.

However, the congressional resolution proved futile as future US Presidents found ways and means to circumvent it. For example, President Ronald Reagan deployed troops in El Salvador in the 1981, during the renewed confrontation with the Soviets.

1.2. The Detente
As the world was on the brink of nuclear confrontation in the late 1960s due to the Sino-Soviet split, USA changed its diplomatic stance towards China. Additionally, in the early 1970s, the Nixon administration extended an ‘olive branch’ to Soviet Union in the form of diplomatic visits.

On 22 May 1972, Nixon visited his Cold War rival, Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow. It marked the first-ever visit by an American president to Soviet Union. The key takeaway from these visits was the increased mutual cooperation.

For example, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) Agreement was signed on 26 May 1972. The Agreement signified the mutual decisions of the superpowers to halt the build-up of strategic ballistic missile launchers. The SALT II Treaty was signed later in the 1970s that banned the development of new ballistic missiles for both countries.

Also, this phase of the Cold War led to the push for space exploration. In July 1975, both USA and USSR conducted a joint-space flight and encouraged collaboration.

However, the thawing of superpower relations halted when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Tensions resurfaced as USA boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

2. Impacts on the USSR: Race in the Third World
On the other hand, the Second Indochina War prompted the Soviet government to intensify its efforts to support the Communist regime. Ho Chi Minh’s victory in Indochina was hailed as a significant victory against the Americans.

As such, Soviet Union raised its military expenditures to support its Cold War allies. As stated earlier, its campaign in the Third World regions began with the invasion in Afghanistan. This conflict was a turning point as observers noted that Soviet Union invaded a country outside the Eastern Bloc, such that its actions drew international criticisms.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was carried out with the intention to reinforce the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which the government seems to secure its political influence in these socialist countries.

However, the campaign in Afghanistan proved disastrous for Soviet Union. The protracted conflict was perceived by some historians as “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War”, particularly due to the mounting economic costs.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political significance of the Second Indochina War on the USA [to be discussed in class].

Besides the topical review of this Cold War event, it is important that you attempt source-based case study questions or essay questions to determine whether you have fully understood these historical developments. Join our JC History Tuition and get additional support as we provide numerous practice questions and answer outlines. By doing so, we ensure that you can study productively and effectively to perform well for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Also, you can join our JC tuition programmes, 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What happened druing the Second Indochina War - JC History Essay Notes

What started the Second Indochina War?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Vietnam War (1955-75)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Historical Context: Battles in Indochina
Before we examine the Second Indochina War, which is commonly known as the ‘Vietnam War’, it is imperative to understand the historical developments in the Indochinese region.

Ever since 1887, Vietnam was under French colonial occupation until World War Two. Following the end of the Japanese Occupation, the French returned to Vietnam.

1a. First Indochina War (1945-1954)
In contrast to the pre-WWII phase, Vietnam engaged in a serious of fierce military confrontation with the French. This conflict was known as the ‘First Indochina War’. Eventually, after the historic ‘battle of Điện Biên Phủ‘, the French was defeated. At the same time, the Geneva Accords were signed during the Geneva Peace Conference, which signified the withdrawal of the French from the Indochinese region.

During the First Indochina War, the French formed a local government led by Bảo Đại, who was a self-exiled former emperor. In early 1954, Bảo Đại was replaced by Ngo Dinh Diem as the prime minister.

1b. The Great Divide: 17th parallel
The provisions of the Accords included the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel. The northern part was known as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) led by Ho Chi Minh. The southern region below the 17th parallel is called the Republic of Vietnam (RoV) under Emperor Bảo Đại.

Although the partition was carried out with the aim of facilitating a ceasefire after the 1954 conflicts, tensions mounted and manifested in the form of actual fighting again. Furthermore, the South was unwilling to participate in the 1956 elections.

More importantly, the North and South were largely influenced by Cold War rivals, which later shaped the developments of the next major conflict.

2a. Second Indochina War (1954-1974)
In South Vietnam, Diem deposed Bảo Đại and became the next president. Notably, Diem was a viable anti-communist leader that aligned with the Cold War interests of USA.

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Administration intensified its efforts in supporting the Diem regime to stem communist expansion in Indochina. One clear evidence is the increased presence of American military advisers deployed in the South.

In the North, Ho Chi Minh’s DRV expanded its military might with the help of external powers, such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Ho rallied the peasants to support his nationalistic cause.

2b. A Test of Loyalty: Sino-Soviet split
Ever since the controversial ‘Secret Speech‘ by Soviet leader Khrushchev in April 1956, USSR was at odds with PRC due to ideological differences and personality clashes.

As such, both Communist powers competed to gain the trust of North Vietnam through the provision of military and economic support. From 1964 to 1969, the PRC aided the North with the condition that their recipient reject support from Soviet Union.

From 1967 onwards, Soviet Union increased their support for the North. Similar to Kennedy’s approach, Soviet advisors entered the fray and aided the North. Also, military support was granted to improve their chances of victory. Notably, more than 75% of North Vietnam’s military capabilities originated from USSR, such as tanks and anti-aircraft guns.

2c. The ‘Americanisation’ of the Vietnam War
After the Tonkin Gulf incident in August 1964, the Lyndon Administration embarked on a large-scale military campaign in Vietnam under the auspices of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Subsequently, numerous American men were drafted to expand the size of the US military forces. The drafting process was challenging as some of the students aged 18 to 25 in the USA protested openly.

Furthermore, the US government launched ‘Operation Rolling Thunder‘ in March 1965, which involved a prolonged period of aerial bombing. Its purpose was to display American air superiority and demoralise the North forces.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Second Indochina War broke out due to ideological differences? [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have covered the key events and players that explained the Second Indochina War, you should apply your knowledge to essay practice questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for our JC History Tuition. You will receive concise study notes and engage in enriching thematic discussions to be more ready for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Besides, you can join our JC tuition classes, like 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. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What does ZOPFAN stand for - JC History Essay Notes

What does ZOPFAN stand for?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security – relations between ASEAN and external powers)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Background: How ZOPFAN was formed?
In the early 1970s, there were several notable events that took place. First, the Western powers (USA and UK) declared their position to reduce their military presence in Southeast Asia. The British announced its withdrawal of forces in 1971. Similarly, the departure of the US troops led to the fall of Saigon in 1975 during the Second Indochina War.

As such, the Communist powers (PRC and USSR) benefited from these developments. For instance, there was increased Chinese support for the communist forces in Vietnam. Besides, the signing of the Shanghai Communique between USA and PRC expanded the latter’s opportunities to assert its influence more extensively in the region.

Some member nations of ASEAN were alarmed by the growing communist threat. During the Non-Aligned Conference of 1970, Malaysia proposed a policy of ‘neutralisation’. This meant that ASEAN should reject external interference, particularly the Cold War bipolarity, in order to protect its regional security and sovereign rights.

Although there were differing interpretations of Malaysia’s suggestions, ASEAN eventually formalized it in the concept known as the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN).

The Mechanism: How did ZOPFAN work?
On 27 November 1971, the ZOPFAN was established during the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ZOPFAN functioned as a political declaration to prevent external interference and encourage regional cooperation among ASEAN members.

DO HEREBY STATE:

1. That Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are determined to exert initially necessary efforts to secure the recognition of, and respect for, South East Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, free from any form or manner of interference by outside Powers;

2. That South East Asian countries should make concerted efforts to broaden the areas of cooperation which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.

Declaration of Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), 27 Nov 1971

Arguably, the ZOPFAN was a display of regional unity as member states could come to a consensus on their interactions with external powers. For instance, Indonesia advocated regional cooperation within ASEAN and disregarded external involvement. Contrastingly, Singapore sought external support for security and economic reasons due to its vulnerable position geographically.

Application: Putting ZOPFAN to the test?
Although ZOPFAN was created to declare ASEAN’s position on external interference, compliance by non-ASEAN parties was difficult. The Third Indochina War of 1978 was a clear example to support this observation. From Vietnam’s perspective, they perceived ZOPFAN as an extension of Western influence and refused to cooperate.

Following the defeat in 1975 during the Second Indochina War, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia alarmed member nations of ASEAN, especially Thailand. Political observers pointed out that this occupation may result in the expansion of communist influence beyond Indochina, possibly towards the rest of Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, some of the ASEAN members supported the internationalisation of the conflict, in which the United Nations was being requested to call for Vietnam’s withdrawal from Cambodia in 1979.

In conclusion, it is imperative to consider the international circumstances and political considerations of member nations in ASEAN to understand the strengths and limitations of ZOPFAN.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the effectiveness of ZOPFAN in explaining ASEAN’s responses to the Cold War bipolarity [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have considered the functions of ZOPFAN, you can apply your content in essay and source-based case study questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for JC History Tuition. Our classes are focused on content enrichment and the refinement of thinking and writing skills. In addition, you can join other JC tuition classes, like 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. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How was Singapore's Foreign Policy during the Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

How was Singapore’s Foreign Policy during the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]: 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II: Cold War in Asia [1945-1991] – Singapore’s Foreign Policy during the Cold War (1945-1991)

Learn more about Singapore’s Foreign Policy to understand how various challenges are addressed at the international level.

Foreign Policy and Singapore
By definition, ‘foreign policy’ is known as a government’s approach in dealing with other countries. Foreign policies are implemented by governments in response to various challenges at the bilateral or international level. In 2017, there was a controversial debate over how Singapore, as a small state, should conduct its foreign policy.

In this article, we will be examining how Singapore’s foreign policy was influenced by two major considerations: Survival and Realism

1. Perceived vulnerability: The concept of Survival
From the outset, when Singapore achieved independence in 1965, its political leaders held a firm belief that ‘survival’ was of paramount importance to the development of this new nation.

Given the lack of natural resources and its small geographical size, Singapore had to promote economic cooperation with other countries, including its neighbours, to advance its economy. The government capitalised on the strategic location of Singapore to facilitate international trade. Additionally, the heavy emphasis on state-guided industrialisation contributed to the entry of multi-national corporations (MNCs) that aided in job creation for the locals. Therefore, economic progress became one of the fundamental aims to ensure the survival of the Republic.

From the security viewpoint, there were external threats that endangered Singapore’s survival. As such, Singapore forged firm diplomatic ties with its neighbouring countries as well as Great Powers.

On 8 August 1967, Singapore was one of the founding members that signed the Bangkok Declaration, which formalised the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). With this regional organisation, inter-state cooperation was encouraged, thereby strengthening diplomatic ties between Singapore and other member nations. Given that there were inter-state tensions in the region, such as the Konfrontasi, that strained political ties, the ASEAN Way was a critical mechanism to alleviate tensions and maintain amicable relations.

More importantly, the Cold War had spread to Southeast Asia by the 1960s, as seen by the outbreak of the Second and Third Indochina Wars. In anticipation of these ideological challenges, Singapore established diplomatic ties with Great Powers, such as USA, to prevent communist expansion that might create political instability.

However, Singapore did not publicly declare its diplomatic position towards USA due to contrasting perceptions held by other ASEAN members relating to the reliance of Great Power support until the late 1980s.

2. The concept of Realism
The second principle that shaped Singapore’s foreign policy involved ‘Realism’, which explains that states are driven by their pursuit of national interests. The assumption is based on the notion that the international order is chaotic and conflicts are highly likely. In this case, survival is one of the many national interests pursued by Singapore.

In addition, the preservation of Singapore’s sovereignty was prioritised throughout the Cold War. One notable event was the Third Indochina War, in which the foreign occupation of Cambodia was perceived by Singapore as an outright violation of the international law. As such, its foreign policy led to the frequent lobbying at the United Nations to galvanise member nations into action, particularly the International Conference on Kampuchea (ICK) of July 1981.

What’s Next?
In the next article, we will analyse Singapore’s foreign policy responses to the Second and Third Indochina Wars to understand its effectiveness.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Singapore’s foreign policy during the Cold War was largely shaped by realism? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have covered the contributing factors that influenced the foreign policy of Singapore during the Cold War, it is imperative that you attempt H1 History essay questions to assess your knowledge application skills. On a separate but related note, you can consider registering for our JC History Tuition. You will receive organised summary notes, undergo enriching skills-based writing workshops and engage in thought-provoking topical discussions.

Besides, you can sign up for our JC tuition, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How were Sino-American Relations - JC History Essay Notes

How were Sino-American relations during the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]: 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II: Cold War in Asia [1945-1991] – Superpower relations with China (1950-1979): Sino-Soviet relations

Examine how Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing, China have changed the Sino-American relations in the 1970s.

Superpower Relations with China in the 1950s and 1960s
Following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) victory during the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established. In view of the Cold War climate, the perceived ideological threat in East Asia, USA did not recognise this historical development.

At the same time, the Republic of China (i.e. ROC or Taiwan) was formed, which became a focal point of dispute between the United States and PRC. For instance, ROC was granted one of the Permanent Five (P5) seats in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Notably, the Soviet Union, an ally of PRC, boycotted the UNSC meeting during the Korean War, as a form of protest against this matter.

The absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries was arguably of no surprise to political observers.

Taiwan Straits Crises
In the 1950s, US foreign policy was focused on Taiwan as a pivot for containment in Asia. The Seventh Fleet was situated in the vicinity to protect the security interests of Taiwan from potential threats.

On 11 August 1954, PRC launched an offensive against Kinmen and Matsu. In response, the Eisenhower administration perceived this as an act of military aggression, possibly occupation. As such, the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in December 1954, which assured ROC that the US would provide military support should the former come under attack. This Treaty later shaped US policy of containment in East Asia till 1979.

In August 1957, the “Second Taiwan Straits Crisis” occurred, in which Kinmen and Matsu were shelled and a naval confrontation took place between ROC and PRC. Eventually, the heightened tensions had de-escalated and the Chinese bombardment ceased by October 1958.

Sino-American Rapprochement in the 1970s
In view of the Sino-Soviet Split that culminated in the Sino-Soviet Border Conflict in 1969, the US began to assume a different diplomatic stance towards PRC, albeit a friendly one.

Given that the US still perceived the Soviet Union as its greatest threat, the notion of establishing diplomatic relations with PRC as a strategic advantage to gain a leverage over its Cold War rival.

“Ping Pong Diplomacy” and the historic meet between Nixon and Zhou Enlai
On 10 April 1971, the American table tennis team was invited to Beijing, China. The friendly sporting event was considered unprecedented, given the strained bilateral relations ever since the PRC’s involvement in the Korean War of 1950.

In July 1971, the Nixon administration’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, made a secret visit to Beijing. Pakistan, an ally of China, facilitated the meeting.

On 21 February 1972, US President Nixon met Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing. Nixon also met Premier Zhou Enlai. More importantly, the visit concluded with the signing of the Shanghai Communiqué on 28 Feburary 1972.

The document signified the mutual interests of both USA and China in the normalization of bilateral relations. As such, USA agreed to recognise the “One-China policy” and reduced military support for Taiwan. Also, China occupied Taiwan’s position as one of the P5 members in the UNSC.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– To what extent do you agree that the Cold War rivalry was a major reason in shaping the Sino-American relations from 1950 to 1979? [to be discussed in class]

Following the assessment of the changing bilateral relations between USA and China, it is important to attempt History essay questions to review your conceptual application. Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we teach you to organise your content, develop your critical thinking skills and form persuasive and coherent arguments. Lessons are conducted with the aim of preparing you to answer essay and source-based case study questions effectively and feasibly within a given timeframe.

Besides, you can join our JC tuition, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.