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?

Join our JC History Tuition to reinforce your comprehension of historical concepts and apply them to your essay and source based case study questions. Our online learning programmes feature thematic revision and skills development workshops to prepare you for the GCE A Level History examinations.

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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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JC H1 H2 History Tuition Online - Why is the UN Security Council important - United Nations Essay Notes

Why is the UN Security Council important?

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

Find out why the Security Council is a vital organ of the United Nations. [Video by Global News]

Historical Context: The “Four Policemen”
On 26 June 1945, representatives from fifty countries signed the Charter of the United Nations. Henceforth, the United Nations was established as an international organisation that focuses on the maintenance of international peace and security.

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt envisioned a post-war order in which the “Four Policemen” – represented by the USA, UK, USSR and China – should assume the primary responsibility to provide security.

In 1942, Roosevelt assured Sumner Welles that when “the moment was ripe”, he would push for a new world organization. His conception of it at the time was illustrated in his “Four Policemen” proposal, which emphasized the use of military powers by the “Big Four” of the wartime Grand Alliance, who, he was convinced, need to cooperate to ensure postwar peace.

… In FDR’s early view of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China and the United States would have regional responsibilities for maintaining peace and would act together to enforce world stability, even forcibly carrying out the disarmament of smaller powers.

An excerpt from “The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century” by John Allphin Moore, Jr. and Jerry Pubantz.

Enforcement Powers: Chapter VI and Chapter VII
The Security Council was empowered to invoke Chapter VI or Chapter VII. Ideally, the use of force was to be considered only as a last resort.

For Chapter VI, the Security Council can investigate a dispute and then make recommendations on its settlement, as mentioned in Articles 34 and 36 respectively.

For Chapter VII, the Security Council identifies situations in which there may be a “breach of peace” and authorise the use of measures to manage conflicts. Examples of such measures include the imposition of sanctions (Articles 41-42) and the deployment of armed forces (Articles 44-47).

The Veto
One of the most controversial functions of the Security Council relates to the veto. As described in Article 27(3) of the Charter: “Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members“. In other words, should any of the permanent members cast a negative vote, a resolution of the Security Council is blocked.

Although the veto can result in political paralysis, it is created to safeguard the interests of the permanent members, thereby ensuring their continued participation in the Security Council. Therefore, some member nations interpreted the veto power as a necessary evil.

Exacerbated by the polarized climate of the Cold War, the use of veto soon began to create deadlock within the Council. By August 1, 1950, “the Soviet Union had all but [paralyzed] the Security Council by vetoing forty-five draft resolutions since the creation of the UN.” The fear was that the UN could lapse into the dysfunctionality that had stymied the League of Nations. If the Security could not utilize its Chapter VII enforcement powers due to veto use, it was feared the UN could suffer the same fate as the League of Nations, unable to prevent world war.

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

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political effectiveness of the Security Council from 1945 to 1991.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to consolidate your content knowledge for the GCE A Level History topics like the United Nations. We provide summary notes, essay outlines and source based case study practices to refine your thinking and writing skills. Through an instructive and exam-driven approach, you will be ready to tackle the challenges of the examinations.

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JC H2 History Tuition - What is the Mexican debt crisis - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Mexican debt crisis?

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

Examine the former Mexican finance minister’s reflections on the Mexican Debt Crisis of 1982 [Video by CNN Business]

The Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s
The 1970s and 1980s were characterised by a series of devastating problems that hampered the growth of the global economy. Apart from the twin oil shocks in 1973 and 1979, a serious debt crisis affected developing nations, particularly in the Latin American region. This financial crisis was known as “The Lost Decade” (La Década Perdida) in Mexico and Guatemala.

An unsustainable growth: A sticky situation
Before the Crisis Decades, most developed nations took loans from the World Bank to finance their infrastructural development. In view of the first oil crisis of 1973, commercial banks received a large inflow of funds from oil-exporting nations, particularly petrostates that belonged to the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). In short, petrodollar recycling was carried out.

However, the loans did not translate into profitable investment activities. Some of these loans were mismanaged. For instance, President Mobutu Sese Seko stored $5 billion in personal Swiss bank accounts, which amounted to Zaire’s total foreign debt.

Additionally, in response to the oil shocks, the USA raised interest rates in 1979. This proved disastrous to the debtor nations as their loans originated from Western commercial banks in the USA and Europe.

When Paul Volcker, head of the Federal Reserve, raised U.S. interest rates in 1979 to fight inflation in the United States, he did not intend to create a global debt crisis. But rising U.S. interest rates, and the rising London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), which set interest rates for Eurodollar lending, greatly increased the cost of southern loans, most of them now tied to floating rates set by the United States or LIBOR.

Rising interest rates had two important consequences. First, they increased interest payments on accumulated debt. “Mexico’s interest bill tripled from $2.3 billion in 1979 to $6.1 billion in 1982… for the region as a whole, interest payments more than doubled, from $14.4 billion in 1979 to $36.1 billion in 1982.” …

A second problem was that high U.S. interest rates acted like a magnet, attracting money from around the world… Massive capital flight created several problems for Latin American countries: it deprived them of money they might have used to invest in their own countries, pay for imports, repay debt, and it eroded their country’s tax base…

An excerpt from “Understanding Globalization: The Social Consequences of Political, Economic, and Environmental Change” by Robert K. Schaeffer.

The Trigger
In August 1982, the Mexican Finance Minister Jesús Silva Herzog announced that Mexico can no longer service its debt that amounted to $80 billion. Subsequently, other Latin American nations like Brazil, Chile and Argentina followed suit. Eventually, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) allowed sixteen Latin American countries to conduct debt rescheduling.

The threat of default by Mexico sent the first world bankers into panic. Many had lent more than 100 per cent of their shareholder capital to governments in Latin America and elsewhere. They knew that if the default was to be repeated across the developing world, it would lead to the collapse of the global financial system

IMF conditionality varied from country to country but generally contained a mix of the following policy ingredients: a cut in public spending, promotion of exports, the elimination of government subsidies, currency devaluation, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the liberalization of foreign trade and investment…

This approach became known as structural adjustment and, over the course of the 1980s and early 1990s, most Latin American countries fell subject to IMF conditionality. The support for such policies from the US government and powerful institutions based in Washington, DC meant that the policy package became known as the Washington Consensus.

An Excerpt from “Latin American Development” by Julie Cupples.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s was a devastating problem that affected the global economy.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn how to write JC History Essays for topics like the Global Economy. Join our online learning classes and receive study notes for A Level History.

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JC H2 History Tuition - What is World Trade Organization and its function - JC History Essay Notes

What is World Trade Organization and its function?

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

Re-look at the contributions of the World Trade Organization ever since its inception in 1995 [Video by the World Trade Organization]

What is the World Trade Organization (WTO)?
The WTO is an inter-governmental organization that formalized international trade. Under the Marrakesh Agreement, the organization was formed on 1 January 1995, replacing the multilateral framework known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

A Prelude to WTO: Trade Rounds under GATT
Before the WTO was established, GATT provided the essential guidelines on international trade from 1948 to 1994. During the Bretton Woods Conference, an International Trade Organization (ITO) was supposed to be formed alongside two other pillars (World Bank and the International Monetary Fund). Yet, the US Congress refused to ratify the Havana Charter. As such, the concept of an ITO was not realized.

Even so, GATT had played its part in promoting multilateral discussions. In the post-war years, GATT contributed to tariff reductions of nearly 8 percent on average till the 1960s.

1. Kennedy Round (1964-1967)
During the Kennedy Round, an Anti-Dumping Agreement was passed. ‘Dumping’ refers to an unfair trade practice in which a firm sell its exports at a price below the price set in the domestic market. The Act was recognized as a success, especially for developing nations.

Recognizing that anti-dumping practices should not constitute an unjustifiable impediment to international trade and that anti-dumping duties may be applied against dumping only if such dumping causes or threatens material injury to an established industry or materially retards the establishment of an industry;

Considering that it is desirable to provide for equitable and open procedures as the basis for a full examination of dumping cases;

An excerpt from the Kennedy Round.

2. Tokyo Round (1973-1979)
In the 1970s, the Tokyo Round was held with the intention to manage the imposition of non-tariff barriers (NTBs). Although participating countries managed to agree on the reduction of tariffs on industrial goods, they were unable to accept the use of plurilateral agreements (they are trade agreements between more than two countries).

The Tokyo Round also led to the adoption of a range of specific new disciplines. These included the legalization of preferential tariff and nontariff treatment in favour of developing countries and among developing countries.

Codes were negotiated on subsidies and countervailing measures, technical barriers to trade (product standards), government procurement, customs valuation, import licensing, antidumping (a revision of a Kennedy Round code), bovine meat, dairy products and civil aircraft…

By negotiating a code, like-minded countries were able to agree to new, legally binding commitments, without having all GATT contracting parties on board.

An excerpt from “The Political Economy of the World Trading System” by Bernard M. Hoekman, Michel M. Kostecki

3. Uruguay Round (1986-1994)
The eighth and final round lasted nearly seven and a half years. In the wake of the twin oil shocks of the 1970s, the Uruguay Round was held as the largest multilateral trade negotiation. The main purpose of the round was to reduce agricultural subsidies, introduce the protection of intellectual property and liberalise trade services in the banking sector. It was a tricky issue due to the sensitivity of the agricultural and textile sectors that affected many developing countries. Furthermore, the round dragged on due to the lack of consensus between the USA and European Union (EU) [also known as the “European Community”, EC] over the reforms to agricultural trade.

For much of the Round the USA and the EC held their own mini-round and their mutual intransigence, especially over agriculture and specifically a long-running dispute over oil seeds, stalled the Uruguay Round for some time. Completion of the Round was in the end facilitated by the so-called Blair House (Washington) accords…

Negotiations on agriculture were among the most contentious of the Round, the final Agreement on Agriculture seeking reforms for a ‘fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system’, but with special consideration for poorer countries and for non-trade concerns such as food security, environmental protection or schemes for diversification from narcotic crops and the like.

An excerpt from “The Free Trade Adventure: The WTO, the Uruguay Round and Globalism–a Critique” by Graham Dunkley.

The WTO
As the Uruguay Round concluded in December 1993, the Marrakesh Agreement was signed on 15 April 1994 by 123 participating nations. Officially, the WTO was formed eight months later, ushering a new era for international trade. The WTO replaced GATT as the institutional framework for trade.

1. The WTO shall facilitate the implementation, administration and operation, and further the objectives, of this Agreement and of the Multilateral Trade Agreements, and shall also provide the framework for the implementation, administration and operation of the Plurilateral Trade Agreements.

2. The WTO shall provide the forum for negotiations among its Members concerning their multilateral trade relations in matters dealt with under the agreements in the Annexes to this Agreement. The WTO may also provide a forum for further negotiations among its Members concerning their multilateral trade relations, and a framework for the implementation of the results of such negotiations, as may be decided by the Ministerial Conference.

An excerpt from the Marrakesh Agreement – Article 3 “Functions of the WTO”, 15 April 1994.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that trade liberalization was beneficial to the global economy from 1945 to 2000?

Join our JC History Tuition and find out more about the Bretton Woods System and other areas relating to the global economy. We provide summary notes for H2 History and H1 History as well as practices for essay writing and source based case studies. Attend our online learning classes to develop an analytical mind.

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JC History Tuition - What is the main purpose of ASEAN - JC History Essay Notes

What is the main purpose of ASEAN?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Reasons for the formation of ASEAN

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)

Find out how ASEAN has evolved over the years ever since its inception in 1967 [Video by NowThisWorld]

The tumultuous sixties: Why was ASEAN formed?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established as a regional organisation on 8 August 1967 by five members – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The regional grouping was formed during a troubling decade in which Southeast Asian governments were pre-occupied with domestic challenges, such as the rise of Communist insurgencies.

Let’s take a look at the Bangkok Declaration that was signed by the five members:

SECOND, that the aims and purposes of the Association shall be:

1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of South-East Asian Nations;

2. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;

An excerpt from the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration), 8 August 1967.

In order to understand the purpose of ASEAN, it is imperative to consider the motivations of individual member states.

Singapore: Economics and Regional Security
For Singapore, ASEAN was a necessary grouping to address the immediate concerns of the government. On 9 August 1945, the leaders of an ‘accidental nation’ had to contend with the limited resources in Singapore. On 18 July 1967, the British announced its plans to withdraw from the East of Suez. The unexpected departure of the British forces left Singapore vulnerable to security threats.

As one of the founding fathers of ASEAN, Mr Rajaratnam played a pivotal role in fostering an ASEAN consensus and promoting a more cohesive and cooperative region. Initially, he argued that regional cooperation should be contemplated primarily in economic terms.

… Mr Rajaratnam articulated Singapore’s view that ASEAN was primarily an organisation for promoting economic cooperation and not for resolving the region’s military and security problems.

An excerpt from “S Rajaratnam on Singapore: From Ideas to Reality” by Chong Guan Kwa, S. Rajaratnam.

However, not all members were supportive of the reliance on external powers for regional security, such as Indonesia.

Indonesia: Regional leadership in a post-Konfrontasi era
The former President Sukarno’s policy of Confrontation had strained diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore. Subsequently, Suharto supported the formation of ASEAN not only to mend relations but also strive to assume a leadership position in the grouping.

Nevertheless, Suharto still held a common view with his predecessor in pursuing a policy of non-alignment.

In effect, the policy of konfrontasi prevented Indonesia from winning recognition as a regional leader in Southeast Asia and beyond in the non-aligned movement. Later, President Suharto would argue that Sukarno’s konfrontasi had also violated Indonesia’s bebas-aktif principle in foreign affairs, whereby Jakarta was to pursue an independent and active foreign policy, which implied avoiding an alignment with any one bloc.

An excerpt from “ASEAN’s Diplomatic and Security Culture: Origins, Development and Prospects” by Jurgen Haacke.

On 16 August 1966, Tun Razak and Adam Malik signed the Jakarta Agreement that signified the official end to the Confrontation. The Agreement was built on the basis on an earlier Bangkok Accord that required Indonesia to recognise Malaysia diplomatically. Malaysian-Indonesian relations were eventually normalised on 31 August 1967, a few weeks after ASEAN was established.

Regional cooperation was firstly intended to exorcize the ghost of confrontation, to provide a contrast between Sukarno’s confrontative foreign policy and the New Order’s more conciliatory approach.

… Nevertheless, the urgency for Indonesia to co-found ASEAN was primarily to restore the country’s regional and international standing.

An excerpt from “Indonesia in ASEAN: Foreign Policy and Regionalism” by Dewi Fortuna Anwar.

The relevance of ASEAN in the post-Cold War era
Although some critics point out that ASEAN has yet to resolve the South China Sea dispute, many recognise ASEAN’s successes in contributing to the creation of a peaceful and stable region. In 2017, ASEAN celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Moving forward, member nations have reaffirmed their commitment in advancing regional cooperation.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the ASEAN was formed as a result of economic reasons.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the regional organisation. Sign up for the online learning programme and you will receive study materials and practice questions. We teach students to think, organise and write effectively for essay and source based case study questions.

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JC H1 History Tuition - Singapore's Foreign Policy - JC History Essay Notes - Cold War in Asia

What is Singapore’s Foreign Policy?

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

Examine Singapore’s Foreign Policy towards Malaysia in view of the Merger-Separation issue. [Video by Channel NewsAsia]

“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

— Lord Palmerston, House of Commons, 1 March 1848

What is a ‘foreign policy’?
It refers to a set of strategies employed by the state to protect its domestic and international interests. A ‘foreign policy’ affects the state’s interactions with other states. Ultimately, the policy is implemented to safeguard national interests.

Foreign policies can involve the use of aggressive (military force) or non-coercive means (diplomacy). Also, these policies can also be carried out through engagement with other states in addressing a common challenge, such as regional security threats.

Singapore’s foreign policy: A summary
There are two key foreign policy theories that are covered the A Level H1 History syllabus: Survival and Realism.

1. Survival
One key ideology that shaped Singapore’s foreign policy is the concept of survival. Following the sudden Separation that led to Singapore’s independence in 1965, the government had to deal with political threats and economic challenges.

Amidst the Cold War context, the rise of Communist insurgencies was a common concern that affected the political stability of Southeast Asian nations. In Singapore, the government was challenged by the Barisan Sosialis.

As for the economic viewpoint, the People’s Action Party (PAP) took the first step towards modernisation by embarking on state-led industrialisation. In particular, the government aimed to establish strong trade ties with other countries, including Great Powers like the USA.

The historical roots of Singapore’s political ideology of survival lie in the events following the country’s ejection from Malaysia in 1965. Survival in both political and economic terms for newly independent Singapore was a very real issue for the PAP Government. The government in the period 1965-67 was involved in an intense, often violent struggle, for power against the Barisan Sosialis and the communists.

…In terms of economic policy, the survival ideology is linked with the concept of the “global city” first proposed in 1972 by Singapore Foreign Minister S. Rajaratnam. This concept suggests that if Singapore is to survive, it must establish a relationship of interdependence in the rapidly expanding global economic system.

An excerpt from “SINGAPORE: Reconciling the Survival Ideology with the Achievement Concept” by Lee Boon-Hiok [from the Southeast Asian Affairs 1978]

2. Realism
Realism describes the notion that states should act according to their best interest. From a realist’s perspective, the world is in a constant state of anarchy. Individuals are inherently egoistic and will do anything to pursue power. As such, states should protect their interests through means like the development of an independent defence force as well as the conduct of diplomacy.

Singapore’s interpretation of such a concept and practice was spelled out by Lee Hsien Loong in the same speech as follows:

This policy depends on the competing interests of several big powers in a region, rather than on linking the nation’s fortunes to one overbearing partner. The big powers can keep one another in check and will prevent any one of them from dominating the entire region, and so allow small states to survive in the interstices between them. It is not a foolproof method, as the equilibrium is a dynamic and possibly unstable one, and may be upset if one power changes course and withdraws. Nor can a small state manipulate the big powers with impunity. The most it can hope to do is to influence their policies in its favour.

An excerpt from “Singapore’s Foreign Policy: Coping with Vulnerability” by Michael Leifer

More importantly, Singapore did not rely solely on the goodwill of external powers to manage security challenges. Its emphasis on regionalism and multilateralism was also another vital channel, seen in terms of Singapore’s diplomatic role in ASEAN and the United Nations.

Through Singapore’s consistent lobbying efforts at the United Nations General Assembly, the government was successful in publicise the Cambodian conflict at the international level.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs distinguished itself as a diplomatic dynamo during the course of the Cambodian conflict. The advocacy, lobbying and drafting skills of its officials were employed to great effect within the United Nations against Vietnam and its client government in Phnom Penh. For example, the declaration of the International Conference on Kampuchea held at the UN in 1981 was drafted by Singapore’s delegation. Singapore’s diplomatic success was accomplished through playing on the political sensibilities of states that had been alarmed by the example of a government despatching its army across an internationally recognised boundary to remove an incumbent administration recognised at the United Nations and replacing it with another of its own manufacture.

An excerpt from “Singapore’s Foreign Policy: Coping with Vulnerability” by Michael Leifer

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that Singapore’s foreign policy was largely shaped by Realism.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about Singapore’s foreign policy in response to the Second and Third Indochina Wars. We cover other topics for H1 and H2 History through online discussions and written practices. Also, students will receive summary notes to consolidate their content knowledge.

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 Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - The Enlargement of ASEAN - JC History Essay Notes

The Enlargement of ASEAN

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: Growth and development of ASEAN

Learn more about ASEAN and its member nations. [Video by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung]

ASEAN: The Founding Five
Ever since the Bangkok Declaration was signed in 1967, ASEAN was formed by five founding member nations to promote regional cooperation. The five members are: Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

In the 1980s and 1990s, five new members joined ASEAN, namely Brunei Darussalam (8 January 1984), Vietnam (28 July 1995), Laos and Myanmar (23 July 1997) and Cambodia (30 April 1999).

Let’s look at some of the key considerations for ASEAN’s new members, namely Vietnam and Myanmar.

1. Vietnam
Before Vietnam joined ASEAN, member nations of ASEAN did not establish strong diplomatic ties with said country. This was largely the result of Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978. Its illegal occupation was perceived by many not only as a threat to sovereign rights, but also security risks.

Furthermore, ideological differences between ASEAN members (which mostly advocated democracy) and Vietnam further made it difficult for political leaders to see eye to eye.

Nevertheless, member nations, including Thailand (which was initially concerned with Vietnam’s military aggression in Cambodia) were supportive of admitting Vietnam due to the significant benefits to facilitate regional economic integration.

Fear of Vietnam defined ASEAN for much of its institutional history; now ASEAN’s main antagonist has joined the fold. The decision to allow Vietnam membership, and to fast-track the applications of other Southeast Asian states, was pushed by Thailand, which saw itself as the economic hub of mainland Southeast Asia and perceived ASEAN’s expansion as an opportunity to increase its own status within ASEAN.

An excerpt from “Explaining ASEAN: Regionalism in Southeast Asia” by Shaun Narine.

From the Vietnam’s perspective, the consideration of becoming part of the ASEAN family was a desirable prospect. The gradual decline of the Cold War rivalry ushered a new era of political cooperation in Southeast Asia. In 1986, the Vietnamese government conducted a policy reform, known as Doi Moi, to advance economic development. As such, Vietnam adopted a more outward-looking attitude and sought cooperation with ASEAN members.

The end of the conflict in Vietnam, and of the Cold War, removed some of the barriers to co-operation. The essential factor for Vietnam’s membership into ASEAN, however, stemmed from the policy of reform or renovation (doi moi) that the Vietnamese Communist Party announced in 1986. It was this policy that led Vietnam to approach ASEAN with increasing interest from the mid-1980s.

Excerpt from “The 2nd ASEAN Reader” edited by Sharon Siddique and Sree Kumar.

2. Myanmar
As for Myanmar, the political controversies surrounding the alleged human rights violations explained the reluctance of some member states of ASEAN in accepting Myanmar’s admission. Furthermore, Western countries, including the USA, also expressed similar sentiments towards ASEAN’s decision to admit Myanmar.

In the late 1960s, ASEAN members had invited Myanmar to join the organisation. However, Myanmar was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement and rejected the offer. In the early 1990s, the military government changed its stance as the leaders believed that a policy of isolationism was not desirable for its progress.

Notably, ASEAN’s past successes and effective political mechanisms (including the ASEAN Way) were motivating factors that spurred these countries to join the organisation as well.

According to Khin Ohn Thant (2001), there were at least two reasons which led to Burma’s decision to join ASEAN. First, towards at the end of the millennium, internal and external conditions had changed in the country. Domestically, Myanmar had expended large resources on internal security measures for decades, and now “the government had signed peace treaties with most of the revels, who have laid down their arms. This now allows the Myanmar Government to devote more attention to external matters, including ASEAN“.

The second reason, suggested by Khin, was that, “in this age of globalization and regionalism, the country realizes that it cannot continue to isolate itself. It needs to identify with a sympathetic group, which will treat it as one of them, and a group that will not exploit Myanmar’s weak situation.”

Most probably, the “ASEAN Way”, that is, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and its consensus-building and conflict resolution mechanisms, attracted Myanmar into the embrace of ASEAN.

Excerpt from “Myanmar in ASEAN: Regional Cooperation Experience” by Mya Than.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that ASEAN’s enlargement was successful in promoting regional unity.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about ASEAN. We cover thematic issue discussion for topics like Inter-state tensions and regional co-operation. We also provide source based case study questions (SBCS) to demonstrate the application of reading and writing skills.

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 Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Why was North Korea involved in the Korean War

Why was North Korea involved in the Korean War?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 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: The Korean War (1950)

Find out how the Korean War began and its impact on a divided nation. [Video by South China Morning Post]

Prelude to the War
Before the North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea, the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung made several visits to meet Stalin in person. Kim bore the political ambition to reunify the Korean peninsula under Communism. In March 1949, Kim made his way to Moscow and discussed with the Soviet leader the prospect of an invasion.

Stalin: Are they penetrating into the South Korean army? Do they have their own people there?

Pak Heon-yeong: They are penetrating, but so far they are not revealing themselves there.

Stalin: This is correct. It is not necessary to reveal themselves now. The southerners also, apparently, are sending their people into the army of the north. They need [to exercise] caution.

An excerpt from Kim Il Sung’s conversation with Stalin during his Moscow visit on 5 March 1949. Pak Heon-yeong was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in North Korea from 1948 to 1953.

Evidently, Stalin was cautious not to cause alarm and alert the USA. As such, he rejected Kim’s request to start an invasion. In May 1949, Kim then visited the Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Beijing. He hoped that China would provide military support to advance his reunification efforts.

In May 1949, Kim Il-sung sent Kim Il, Head of the General Political Department of the Korean People’s Army to visit Beijing. The main purpose of Kim Il’s visit was to ask China to transfer the several divisions made up by soldiers of Korean nationality to North Korea…

In their meeting, Mao Zedong said: “Kim Il-sung should make all necessary preparations at all times for a guerrilla warfare or a protracted warfare.” Mao predicted that Japan might help South Korea in the war and he expressed that “China can send its troops to help North Korea if necessary.” However, Mao Zedong did not agree to Kim Il-sung’s plan for an immediate reunification of Korea by force.

An excerpt from “China and the United States: A New Cold War History” by Xiaobing Li and Hongshan Li.

From these two interactions, it can be observed that Mao Zedong shared similar sentiments as Stalin, in which North Korea should attack only in retaliation to aggression by South Korea. The Chinese leader was concerned with increased American intervention as he was also preoccupied with the ongoing Chinese Civil War.

Final preparations
In April 1950, Kim Il-Sung met with Stalin in Moscow again. Kim sought to reassure the Soviet leader that his proposed invasion would result in a swift and decisive victory, such that the USA would not be able to step in. This time, Stalin finally approved Kim’s request but with the condition that both China and North Korea must achieve a consensus in the invasion.

In a conversation with the Korean comrades, Filippov [Stalin] and his friends expressed the opinion, that, in light of the changed international situation, they agree with the proposal of the Koreans to move toward reunification. In this regard, a qualification was made that the question should be decided finally by the Chinese and Korean comrades together, and, in case of disagreement by the Chinese comrades, the decision on the question should be postponed until a new discussion.

An excerpt from Stalin’s reply for Mao Zedong on 14 May 1950.

This “changed international situation” could be better understood by Stalin’s consideration of a speech by the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, which was commonly referred to as the “Perimeter Speech” that outlined US foreign policy in Asia. Stalin was certain that the speech’s exclusion of Korea would give Kim Il-sung ample time to complete his reunification efforts.

This defensive perimeter runs along the Aleutians to Japan and then goes to the Ryukyus. We hold important defense positions in the Ryukyu Islands, and those we will continue to hold. In the interest of the population of the Ryukyu Islands, we will at an appropriate time offer to hold these islands under trusteeship of the United Nations. But they are essential parts of the defensive perimeter of the Pacific, and they must and will be held.

… Should such an attack occur, one hesitates to say where such an armed attack could come from, the initial reliance must be on the people attacked to resist it and then upon the commitments of the entire civilized world under the Charter of the United Nations…

An excerpt from Dean Acheson’s speech to the National Press Club on 12 January 1950.

Following Stalin’s arrangements with North Korea and China, the North Korean invasion began on 25 June 1950, thus signalling the start of the conflict.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that ideological motivations shaped the involvement of Soviet Union in the Korean War.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Korean War. We conduct online learning programmes to impart students with the writing skills to answer essay and source based case study questions effectively.

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 Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Why did the superpowers get involved in the Korean War

Why did the superpowers get involved in the Korean War?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 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: The Korean War (1950)

Learn more about the political motivations that shaped US involvement in the Korean War. [Video by PragerU]

Historical context
The Korean War began as a civil war between North Korea and South Korea. Local leaders Kim II-sung and Sygnman Rhee pursued the aim of reunifying the Korean peninsula under diametrically-opposite ideologies. Notably, both governments turned to the superpowers for military support. Yet, it is myopic to claim that the conflict remained localised as the USA and Soviet Union were also influenced by their strategic motivations to aid the two Koreas, thus escalating the event to a proxy war.

1. Stalin’s tactical gambit
From the Soviet perspective, Stalin aided Kim II-sung to divert the attention of his Cold War rival from the European theatre of war. Distinguished historians Donggil Kim and William Stueck arrived at this conclusion after analysing Joseph Stalin’s telegram to the Czechoslovak President Klement Gottawald.

The reason we eventually allowed the war in Korea is because: let us suppose that the U.S. continues to be tied down in the Far East and also pulls China into the struggle. What might come out of this? It follows that America would over-extend itself in this struggle. It is clear that the United States of America is presently distracted from Europe in the Far East. Does it not give us an advantage in the global balance of power, especially back in Europe? It undoubtedly does, allowing us to use this war to our advantage.

An excerpt from Stalin’s telegram to Czech President Klement Gottwald, 27 August 1950.

The telegram was delivered on 27 August 1950, nearly two months after North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel and entered the South Korean territory. Interestingly, Stalin reassured his Cold War ally that Soviet Union’s absence in the Security Council was a calculated risk.

2. A litmus test for American commitment
As for the Truman administration, increased US involvement in the Korean War was largely influenced by the fear of ideological expansion in East Asia as well as domestic political pressure.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong formed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1 October 1949 after his victory against Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists in the Chinese Civil War. Soon, Stalin forged diplomatic ties with Mao Zedong by signing the Treat of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance on 14 February 1950. These developments had alarmed the US government as the Soviet Union gained a new ally.

The “loss of China” became a partisan issue. Leading Republicans, especially Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio and former President Herbert C. Hoover, assailed Truman, Acheson, and “treacherous Communists” in the State Department for Chiang’s defeat. MacArthur, considered the China Lobby’s ally, said that allowing the Communists to grow in power in China was “the greatest political mistake we made in a hundred years in the Pacific.”

An excerpt from “Truman, MacArthur, and the Korean War” by Dennis D. Wainstock.

Additionally, Truman also faced mounting pressure domestically to fight the Communists. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy criticised Truman for being “soft” on Communism. As such, the American government became more determined to defend South Korea. These actions were also meant to demonstrate to its allies that the USA was ready to protect them from external aggression, as described by Dean Acheson at the National Press Club on 12 January 1950.

Although post-World War II anti-communism and the makings of the Second Red Scare can be traced all the way back to 1946, not until after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea and the Chinese intervention did McCarthy reach full fury, hurling wild accusations and contriving a political atmosphere so poisonous that it has since come to bear his name: McCarthyism.

…however, the overall political atmosphere he created certainly affected the parameters within which Truman and his advisers had to operate.

An excerpt from “Truman and Korea: The Political Culture of the Early Cold War” by by Paul G. Pierpaoli.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ideological concerns were the main motivation that shaped superpower involvement in the Korean War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Korean War. We provide concise study notes and conduct writing workshops to improve your reading and writing skills to ace the GCE A Level History examinations. Be proficient in essay writing and the analysis of 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 Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.