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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - Why did the Soviet Union collapse - JC History Essay Notes

Why did the Soviet Union collapse?

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 3: End of Bipolarity

Examine the possible causes that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union: Inevitable or not? 
From a retrospective view, not all agree that the collapse of the Soviet Union was expected. In fact, there were forecasts that the Soviet Union might surpass the United States in terms of economic development.

Nevertheless, the Cold War rivalry have undoubtedly impacted the social, economic and political developments of the USSR. In this article, we will cover the consequences of domestic reforms and the rise of nationalism.

Internal Reform #1: Perestroika 
Following the ascent of Mikhail Gorbachev, the newly-elected Soviet leader introduced two notable concepts that outlined his domestic reforms: perestroika and glasnost.

Faced with an ailing Soviet economy, Perestroika (which means ‘restructuring’) involved economic restructuring through the reduction of central planning and greater private participation.

For instance, the Law on State Enterprise was passed in June 1987. In this case, state enterprises could set their own output levels based on consumer demand. With their newfound autonomy, these enterprises had to be self-reliant as state financing was absent.

Additionally, the Soviet Joint Venture Law was passed, which allowed foreign investment to flow into the Soviet Union. The government allowed majority foreign ownership.

However, the economic restructuring was ineffective. Contrary to Gorbachev’s expectations, the reforms accelerated the economic collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 17% and inflation rate was at nearly 700%.

The failure of Perestroika was largely traced to the incompatibility of capitalism with communism. For example, the government still maintained a monopoly over the means of production, thereby denying the enterprises of the ability to compete feasibly. Besides, foreign investment was hardly present due to the high degree of resistance from local officials, who feared the loss of political control.

Internal Reform #2: Glasnost
The Glasnost policy (which referred to ‘openness’) was introduced to empower the Russian society by enabling freer flow of information and public involvement in the decision-making processes. By doing so, Gorbachev hoped to restore public trust in the Soviet government, including the desired support for his Perestroika.

For instance, the Soviet government lifted its censorship policies and allowed open political debate. Also, freedom of religion was permitted, which contributed to the restoration of mosques and churches.

Again, the reform proved disastrous for the Gorbachev administration. The policy of “openness” exposed the failures of past leaders, thus causing the erosion of public trust. Critics became more outspoken as they pointed out social and economic problems, like food shortages and housing issues.

More importantly, the availability of political debates influenced the public desire for democratization, which resulted in the mass-based political participation in the Soviet Republics.

Nationalism: A rising tide; A dangerous precipice
In addition to the nationalist movements that took place in the Eastern Europe, there were also political uprisings that broke out within the USSR itself.

From 1988 to 1990, several Soviet Republics declared independence from the Soviet Union. For example, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia declared their intent to break away from USSR even though the Soviet government rejected it.

Due to Gorbachev’s refusal to use military force against the nationalists, cracks within the political leadership were gradually exposed.

The August Coup
Gorbachev proposed the ‘New Union Treaty’ in 1991 to maintain a semblance of central authority while granting the republics their desired sovereign rights. However, nearly half of the republics rejected the proposal.

High-ranking officials within the Soviet government launched a coup against Gorbachev in August 1991. This event became a turning point as Russian President Boris Yeltsin garnered support to end the coup. Eventually, the coup ended and Gorbachev resigned.

On 26 December 1991, following the Belavezha Accords, the dissolution of the USSR began. The declaration recognised the official independence of the former Soviet Republics and the subsequent creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In other words, the collapse of the USSR signalled the end of the Cold War.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that domestic reforms were the main reason for the dissolution of the USSR? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have considered the contributing factors that explained the collapse of the USSR, it is imperative that you attempt source-based case study questions relating to this topic, also known as the End of Bipolarity. Additionally, you can join our JC History Tuition. We impart you with the thinking and writing skills to improve your quality of answers, such as information extraction, reliability and utility assessment.

Also, you can join other JC tuition programmes, 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 did Mikhail Gorbachev end the Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

How did Mikhail Gorbachev end the Cold 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 3: End of Bipolarity

Find out how Mikhail Gorbachev cooperated with Ronald Reagan in ending the Cold War

About the Reformist: Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev 
Before Gorbachev assumed the leadership position in the Soviet Union, he possessed credentials that contributed to his gradual and eventual ascension to power. For example, in 1979, Gorbachev became a full member of the Politburo. When Konstantin Chernenko died on 10 March 1985, Gorbachev was elected to succeed him as the next General Secretary of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU).

The paradigm shift: ‘New Thinking’  
From 25 February to 6 March 1986, the newly-elected Soviet leader delivered a pivotal speech during the 27th Party Congress of the CPSU in Moscow.

During the address, Gorbachev introduced a new foreign policy, known as Novoe Myshlenie (‘New Thinking’). He sought to achieve peaceful co-existence with other nations in the world. To do so, he proposed a series of domestic reforms.

Notably, his foreign policy included the renunciation of the controversial Brezhnev Doctrine and support for arms reduction between superpowers.

End of the Arms Race  
Following the historic 27th Party Congress speech, Gorbachev arranged to meet his counterpart, Ronald Reagan, during a series of summits, such as the Reykjavik Summit in October 1986.

Although the disarmament talks had failed due to disagreements between the two leaders over the testing of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the willingness of Gorbachev to enter negotiations was a milestone achievement.

A year later, Gorbachev met Reagan during the Washington Summit and eventually came to a common consensus on disarmament. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed, signifying the end of the arms race.

Within the terms of agreement, Gorbachev pledged to reduce conventional forces in Europe, which later affected the Eastern European satellites.

End of the ideological division in Europe
On 7 December 1988, Gorbachev gave a speech at the United Nations General Assembly. It was a remarkable event as he declared his intentions to withdraw troops from Eastern Europe and the Third World (such as Afghanistan).

The necessity of the principle of freedom of choice is also clear to us. The failure to recognize this, to recognize it, is fraught with very dire consequences, consequences for world peace… Freedom of choice is a universal principle and there should be no exceptions

The Soviet Union has made a decision on reducing its armed forces. In the next two years, their numerical strength will be reduced by 500,000 persons, and the volume of conventional arms will also be cut considerably.

UN General Assembly Speech by Mikhail Gorbachev, 8 December 1988

Subsequently, Soviet Union’s decision withdraw from Afghanistan marked the end of the largest Cold War conflict. Additionally, Soviet aid to revolutionary movements in Africa and Latin America was cut.

As a result of these major shifts in Soviet foreign policy, the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe was imminent. For example, in East Germany, public protests broke out. Popular movements escalated to the point that East German leader, Erich Honecker, resigned on 18 October 1989. On 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, thus marking the end of the division between East and West Germany.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that Gorbachev was the chief architect in causing the end of the Cold War [to be discussed in class].

After examining the individual contributions of Gorbachev and Reagan, you can attempt source based case study questions to improve your answering skills. Alternatively, sign up for our JC History Tuition and receive summary materials. We conduct writing workshops and content revision classes to expand your areas of study such that you can revise productively and effectively.

You can consider other JC tuition classes, 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.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How did Ronald Reagan end the Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

How did Ronald Reagan end the Cold 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 3: End of Bipolarity

Examine the role of the former US President Ronald Reagan to understand his contributions in ending the Cold War.

The end of the Cold War: Revisited 
In one of our earlier articles, we have discussed the major incidents that led to the eventual end of the ideological division that transformed the world in the 20th century. Today, we will focus our attention on one of the key players that contributed to this pivotal moment in history.

About Ronald Reagan: A Hollywood Star; A World Leader
Before Reagan took office in January 1981, he was a well-known actor in the 1940s and 1950s. His accumulated experienced had paid off when he switched to politics. American voters were charmed by Reagan’s charisma and oratorical skills, such that he was nicknamed “The Great Communicator”.

The “Second Cold War”: The Arms Race
Following his electoral victory, Reagan assumed a position that differed drastically from his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, who pursued arms control, as exemplified by the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I & II).

Instead, Reagan was supportive of military build-up. His rationale stemmed from the belief that American military superiority was vital in pressuring the Soviets to relent in the Cold War. Therefore, the Reagan administration oversaw a $180 billion five-year programme.

In November 1983, the Pershing II ballistic missiles were deployed in Western Europe. Additionally, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) led command post exercise, code-named “Able Archer“, that simulated a coordinated nuclear attack.

Most importantly, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was announced publicly as a high-tech project that involved the use of “lasers” to target Soviet ballistic missiles in space. Despite the absurd-sounding concept, the Soviets took the announcement seriously.

Later, the incoming Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met Reagan over a series of summits that culminated in the end of the arms race. Notably, the “Washington Summit” ended with the successful signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by Reagan and Gorbachev.

Each Party shall eliminate all its intermediate-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, and all support structures and support equipment of the categories listed in the Memorandum of Understanding associated with such missiles and launchers, so that no later than three years after entry into force of this Treaty and thereafter no such missiles, launchers, support structures or support equipment shall be possessed by either Party.

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, 8 December 1987.

The Reagan Doctrine: Renewed Containment
Similar to the first US President, Harry Truman, who outlined his policy of ‘containment’, Reagan introduced a doctrine to intensify American efforts in countering the Soviet influence in the Third World.

The “Reagan Doctrine” shaped the US administration’s foreign policy, in which covert aid was given to counter-revolutionaries that fought against the Soviets Africa, Asia and Latin America.

We cannot play innocents abroad in a world that’s not innocent; nor can we be passive when freedom is under siege. Without resources, diplomacy cannot succeed… And I hope that you in the Congress will understand that, dollar for dollar, security assistance contributes as much to global security as our own defense budget.
We must stand by all our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.

From Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union Address, 6 February 1985

Subsequently, the US expanded its scope of support in the above-mentioned regions. For example, the Soviet-Afghan War saw a turning point in September 1986. During “Operation Cycle”, the US provided “Stinger” missiles that were effective against Soviet aircraft. Eventually, the war ended in February 1989.

A lasting legacy
Before Reagan ended his second term as the US President, he made an address to the nation, reflecting on his past contributions and how the Cold War had changed the world.

Nothing is less free than pure communism — and yet we have, the past few years, forged a satisfying new closeness with the Soviet Union. I’ve been asked if this isn’t a gamble, and my answer is no because we’re basing our actions not on words but deeds. The detente of the 1970’s was based not on actions but promises. They’d promise to treat their own people and the people of the world better. But the gulag was still the gulag, and the state was still expansionist, and they still waged proxy wars in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Well, this time, so far, it’s different. President Gorbachev has brought about some internal democratic reforms and begun the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Farewell Address to the Nation”, by Ronald Reagan, 11 January 1989

Evidently, the mutual cooperation with the Soviet leader Gorbachev had paid off as it led to the end of the Cold War.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Reagan was largely responsible for the end of the Cold War? [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have covered the main contributions of Ronald Reagan in understanding the end of Bipolarity, it is important that you attempt related source based case study questions to review your knowledge comprehension. Join our JC History Tuition and receive organised materials to raise the productivity of your revision. We also provide skills development workshops to teach JC students how to do source comparision and analysis.

Also, you can join 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 - What is the role of the International Court of Justice - JC History Essay Notes

What is the role of the International Court of Justice?

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 role of the International Court of Justice to understand this judicial organ of the United Nations.

Role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). Its establishment took place during the San Francisco Conference (25 April to 26 June 1945) that officially formed the UN itself.

The International Court of Justice shall be the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It shall function in accordance with the annexed Statute, which is based upon the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice and forms an integral part of the present Charter.

Article 93, Chapter XIV of the UN Charter

Functions of the ICJ
There are two main functions performed by the ICJ. The Court provides advisory opinions and facilitates dispute resolution.

Feature #1: Advisory Opinion
The ICJ can provide advisory opinions for UN members for any legal matters. In other words, the Court is an embodiment of world opinion to reflect the international community’s will. Examples include the ‘Legality of the Use or Threat of Nuclear Weapons‘ [19 December 1994].

The General Assembly or the Security Council may request the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on any legal question.

Article 96, Chapter XIV of the UN Charter [Advisory Opinion]

Feature #2: Dispute Resolution
Second, the Court is responsible for dispute resolution between sovereign states. It acts as a fair mediator and provides an internationally-recognised platform. Examples include the Pedra Branca dispute‘ [24 July 2003] and Frontier Dispute‘ [18 October 1983].

The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

Article 33, Chapter VI of the UN Charter [Dispute Resolution]

In making recommendations under this Article the Security Council should also take into consideration that legal disputes should as a general rule be referred by the parties to the International Court of Justice in accordance with the provisions of the Statute of the Court.

Article 36, Chapter VI of the UN Charter [Dispute Resolution]

Institutionalization of the ICJ: First Case
In April 1946, the precursor to the ICJ, also known as the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), was dissolved. Subsequently, the President Judge, José Gustavo, was elected in the ICJ. In May 1947, the first case that was submitted by United Kingdom against Albania. It was known as the ‘Corfu Channel’ incident.

Enforcement of Court’s Decisions
Should any involved party refuse to comply with the Court’s decision, the Security Council can enforce the decisions. In fact, all members of the United Nations must adhere to the decisions of the Court, if they are involved in a submitted dispute.

Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice in any case to which it is a party.

If any party to a case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may, if it deems necessary, make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment.

Article 94, Chapter XIV of the UN Charter

Final Summary
In view of the ICJ’s roles, the United Nations has arguably remained relevant in ensuring adherence to the international law. Although there are occasional setbacks that hamper its ability to resolve complex disputes, particularly in the South China Sea region, many countries still defer to the Court’s decision.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following questions to understand the topic:
– To what extent do you agree that the International Court of Justice was hindered by the great powers in ensuring adherence to the international law? [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have examined the functions of the ICJ, you can consider signing up for our JC History Tuition. We will teach you to write concise and well-organised paragraphs to ace your A Level History essay sections in Paper 1 and Paper 2 [for H2 History].

Besides, you can sign up for other JC tuition programs, 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 are the UN Reforms - JC History Essay Notes

What are the UN Reforms?

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 obstacles encountered in the United Nations Security Council to understand why reforms are needed to keep this international organization relevant.

Obstacles that affected the United Nations (UN)
In the previous article, we have examined how the conceptualization of peacekeeping was essential in enhancing the United Nations’ role in maintaining international peace and security. Although such efforts are noteworthy, the UN encountered several impediments that hampered its functions.

Challenge #1: Operational Constraints
Given that the UN is an international organization that functions on the basis of cooperation by member states, these individual countries are expected to contribute troops and finances to enable the deployment of peacekeeping forces.

However, voluntary contribution is problematic as every member state is guided by political interests. This issue was even more severe during the Cold War as ideological interests shaped the decisions of superpowers and affected the availability of operational support. Examples include the Congo Crisis, Somali Civil War and Rwandan Genocide.

“An Agenda for Peace” Report
Fortunately, some of the UN Secretary-Generals (UNSGs) have exercised their independence and engaged in innovative attempts to reform the peacekeeping aspect. In 1992, the Egyptian UNSG Boutros Boutros-Ghali submitted the report titled “An Agenda for Peace: Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping.

In this report, Boutros-Ghali proposed how the United Nations should respond to conflicts in the post-Cold War era. In particular, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) was established in the same year to streamline and manage peacekeeping operations effectively. For instance, the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS) was formed to provide military forces that are capable of deploying in a short span of time to manage threats to international peace and security.

Challenge #2: Great Power Politics
With reference to the featured video in the above, great power politics have been a persistent obstacle that impeded the functioning of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Some critics have claimed that the membership of the Permanent Five in the UNSC is outdated and irrelevant in the modern world. For example, there is over-representation of Europe, while other regions are not, such as Asia and Africa. In 2013, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed similar sentiments, arguing that the UNSC was ‘outdated’ and ‘undemocratic’.

The prime concern was the veto power, which challenges the democratic principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Again, the Cold War rivalry was known to create frequent political deadlocks within the UNSC. Superpowers were known to exercise the veto to block UN action should the UN response be perceived as a threat to their ideological interests. Examples include the Hungarian Revolution (1956), Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979) and the US invasion of Grenada (1983).

Veto Reforms
With regards to this contentious issue, some of the member states have supported the proposal of abolishing the veto. Yet, such an approach was unrealistic, given that any amendment to the UN Charter required complete consensus from the Permanent Five (P5). Furthermore, some of the P5 members have disagreed with the abolishment.

Others suggested a less extreme reform, such as the consideration of a ‘veto restraint’. This mean that the P5 UNSC would accept self-imposed restrictions without having to amend the Charter. The intention was to enable the freer changes in the membership and appointment of the UNSG. Again, these efforts were met with limited success.

Conclusion
From the above-mentioned reforms, we can conclude that there are several obstacles that limit the functioning of the United Nations, such as operational constraints and the outdated Security Council structure. Although the progress of UN reforms was constrained by the reluctance of some member states to comply, we should acknowledge these efforts to keeping the organization relevant in the 21st Century.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following questions to understand the topic:
– Assess the effectiveness of the United Nations reforms to maintain international peace and security. [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition to broaden your content awareness and knowledge application. We prepare you by examining many basic and challenging essay questions to ensure that you are ready for the GCE A Level History examinations. Furthermore, you can sign up for 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 peacekeeping - JC History Essay Notes

What is peacekeeping?

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

Learn more about the role of the United Nations peacekeepers.

Origins of ‘Peacekeeping’
At the initial stage, the United Nations Charter did not consider the notion of ‘peacekeeping’. In the Chapter VI and Chapter VII, the United Nations Security Council is empowered to carry out ‘peace-making’ and ‘peace enforcement’. ‘Peacekeeping’ is commonly known as ‘Chapter V 1/2’ as it includes both diplomatic solutions and forceful actions.

‘Peacekeeping’ was formalized by the United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold and Canadian Minister of External Affairs Lester Pearson. This development coincided with the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956.

Three principles of Peacekeeping
The conceptualization of peacekeeping led to the definition of three principles: (i) Consent of the parties (ii) Impartiality (iii) Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate

(i) Consent of the parties
Before the United Nations peacekeepers are deployed to the conflict zone(s), the international organization must require consent by the involved parties. Should a country be involved, the government must grant host-state consent, as it reflects the respect of national sovereignty.

(ii) Impartiality
The second principle involves the need for United Nations peacekeepers to be neutral throughout the conflict. Impartiality is needed to preserve the legitimacy of the United Nations and maintain the consent of all parties.

(iii) Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate
Although the peacekeepers are armed for self-defence, they are not authorized to use force as it may compromise the other two principles. Nevertheless, there are instances in which the United Nations Security Council authorizes the peacekeepers to ‘use all necessary means’ to fulfil the resolutions (e.g. Congo Crisis and Gulf War).

Phases of Peacekeeping
From the 1950s to 1980s, the United Nations was involved in ‘traditional peacekeeping’, which involved inter-state conflicts. The peacekeepers are charged with the responsibility of monitoring ceasefires. The relevant case studies include Suez Canal Crisis (UNEF I) and the Cyprus Crisis (UNFICYP).

From the 1980s onwards, the evolution of peacekeeping began, which included intra-state conflicts. The role of the United Nations peacekeepers expanded to the provision of humanitarian aid and monitoring of elections. Examples of such case studies are the Cambodian Crisis (UNTAC), East Timorese Crisis (UNTAET).

Reflections on peacekeeping
In view of these roles and responsibilities of peacekeeping, the successes of the United Nations were occasionally limited by obstacles, such as Cold War rivalry and operational constraints. In the next article, we will examine the challenges of peacekeeping and how the international organization has derived solutions to overcome them.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand the topic:
– How far do you agree that the effectiveness of the United Nations peacekeeping missions were dependent on great power consensus? [to be discussed in class].

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn more about peacekeeping case studies to answer JC History essay questions. Also, you can sign up for related 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 role of the United Nations Security Council - JC History Essay Notes

What is the role of the United Nations Security Council?

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

Examine the role of the Security Council to understand its significance in maintaining international peace and security.

Role of the UN Security Council (UNSC)
The Security Council is the primary organ that bears the responsibility to maintain international peace and security. It is comprised of 15 members: Five permanent members (known as the ‘P5’ in short – namely USA, Russia, UK, France and China) as well as ten non-permanent members (elected for two-year terms).

In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.

In discharging these duties the Security Council shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations. The specific powers granted to the Security Council for the discharge of these duties are laid down in Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and XII

Article 24, Chapter V of the United Nations Charter

#1: Empowerment of the UNSC
As outlined in Article 24, the UNSC is granted the empowerment tools to invoke Chapters VI (Pacific Settlement of Disputes), VII (Actions with respect to Threats to the Peace), VIII (Regional arrangements) and XII (International Trustee System) to fulfill its primary role.

The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.

Article 25, Chapter V of the United Nations Charter

Furthermore, the resolutions of the UNSC are binding, implying that affected parties, including members of the United Nations must comply.

Chapter VI: Pacific Settlement of Disputes
We will be examining three aspects to understand the significant role of the UNSC in invoking the relevant ‘Chapters’. First, Chapter VI involves the diplomatic and peaceful approach of encouraging warring parties to cooperate with the UN and resolve the conflicts without violence.

1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

2. The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means.

Article 33, Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter

In practice, the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) is instructed by the Security Council to act on these resolutions through peaceful means, if possible.

Chapter VII: Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression
Another critical option that the UNSC can introduce is Chapter VII. Should diplomacy fail, the use of force is considered as the next possible option. According to the UN Charter, a ‘Military Staff Committee’ is established to oversee the procedures on how it can be carried out appropriately.

The ‘Collective Security’ principle was applied in practice notably in two situations: the Korean War (1950) and the Gulf War (1990).

The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Article 39 and 42, Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter

Chapter VIII: Regional Arrangements
Lastly, the UNSC can employ the assistance of ‘regional arrangements’, which simply can be referred to regional organizations to fulfill its resolutions. The benefit of relying on these groupings is that UN can gather operational resources, including troop contributions, rapidly to conduct swift crisis responses. This is backed by the observation that the United Nations lacks a ‘permanent standing army’. Throughout the UN-sponsored operation, these ‘regional arrangements’ must adhere to the principles of the UN Charter to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security.

In particular, the UNSC must authorize any form of enforcement before the ‘regional arrangement’ can do so.

The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council

Article 53, Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter

Yet, there were instances in which authorization was not sought after, as exemplified by the Kosovo War. During the conflict, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) carried out its bombing campaign in Yugoslavia from March to June 1999. China and Russia opposed NATO’s proposal for military action.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand the topic:
– Assess the view that structural limitations were the greatest hindrance to the functioning of the United Nations Security Council from 1945 to 2000. [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and find out how you can organise your areas of study for these comprehensive topics, such as ‘Safeguarding International Peace and Security’ and ‘Economic Development after Independence’. Additionally, you can sign up for related 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 register now!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the role of the United Nations General Assembly - JC History Essay Notes

What is the role of the United Nations General Assembly?

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

Examine the role of the UNGA to understand its contributions to the world.

Role of the UN General Assembly (UNGA)
The General Assembly is the principal deliberative organ of the United Nations. It comprises of the representatives of all member states that admitted the international organization.

#1: Discussions and recommendations on matters affecting international peace and security
In particular, the UNGA is charged with the responsibility to facilitate discussions among member states to address matters pertaining to international peace and security.

The General Assembly may discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present Charter or relating to the powers and functions of any organs provided for in the present Charter, and, except as provided in Article 12, may make recommendations to the Members of the United Nations or to the Security Council or to both on any such questions or matters.

Article 10, Chapter IV of the UN Charter

However, it is imperative to acknowledge the advisory role of the UNGA as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) bears the primary responsibility in the authorization of use of force in dealing with such matters.

The General Assembly may discuss any questions relating to the maintenance of international peace and security brought before it by any Member of the United Nations, or by the Security Council, or by a state which is not a Member of the United Nations in accordance with Article 35, paragraph 2, and, except as provided in Article 12, may make recommendations with regard to any such questions to the state or states concerned or to the Security Council or to both. Any such question on which action is necessary shall be referred to the Security Council by the General Assembly either before or after discussion.

Article 11(2), Chapter IV of the UN Charter

#2: Voting Process and Resolutions
After much deliberation, member states of the UNGA would undertake a voting process to decide whether to adopt a resolution (i.e. a course of action). Each member state is entitled to one vote. A two-thirds majority must be made before the resolution can be passed.

These resolutions can be passed to address matters, such as the admission of new member states to the General Assembly.

Decisions of the General Assembly on important questions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. These questions shall include: recommendations with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security, the election of the non-permanent members of the Security Council…

Article 18, Chapter IV of the UN Charter

#3: ‘Uniting for Peace’ Resolution
Although there were Charter limitations that inhibited the UNGA’s role, a reform was introduced on 3 November 1950, known as the ‘Uniting for Peace’ (UfP) resolution.

If the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Resolution 377(V), 3 November 1950

In practice, the UfP resolution was first invoked during the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956. Due to the vetoes by France and the United Kingdom, the resolution empowered the UNGA to act. This lead to the successful formation of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) that supervised the cessation of hostilities in Egypt.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand the topic:
– Assess the view that great power politics impeded the role of the United Nations General Assembly during the Cold War [to be discussed in class].

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the South China Sea dispute - JC History Essay Notes

What is the South China Sea dispute?

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)

Historical Background
South China Sea dispute involves a large region of islands, reefs and banks. In particular, the region relates to contentious parts like Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal. The dispute originated from competing territorial claims between ASEAN-related countries (Philippines and Vietnam) and external powers, particularly China. For example, China based its territorial claims on the ‘nine dash line’ map, which was contested on by other claimants.

Unfortunately, these competing claims have resulted in clashes that occasionally escalated into violent confrontations. In January 1974, China clashed with South Vietnam over the ‘Paracels’, which resulted in the sinking of several Vietnamese ships and a substantial number of casualties. In 1988, China attacked Vietnamese forces in the Spratlys Islands, leading to frayed bilateral tensions.

Competing Claims
From the late 1970s to 1980s, Philippines advanced its claims on the Spratlys. In June 1978, Marcos announced the Presidential Decree that established the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which covered 200 nautical miles of the affected region. Likewise, in 1988, Brunei outlined an EEZ that stretched into the southern part of the Spratlys.

ASEAN’s intervention I: The Manila Declaration
On 22 July 1992, during the 25th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), the regional organization formed the ASEAN Declaration of the South China Sea at Manila, Philippines. The Declaration was formed on the basis of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) of 1976, which advocated non-violent means of dispute resolution. It was a significant milestone for ASEAN as China agreed to sign the document.

However, the competing claims resurfaced again in the mid-1990s. On 8 February 1995, Philippines observed the development of a militarised Mischief Reef. In the late 1990s, Philippines clashed with China at the Mischief Reef and the Scarborough Shoal.

A divided ASEAN?
Given Philippines’ proximity to the contested region, it raised the matter to ASEAN. Yet, not all ASEAN members held a similar position regarding the dispute. This was observed in the disagreements over Philippines’ proposal for a new code-of-conduct during the AMM in July 1999. Furthermore, most countries were occupied with their domestic matters, given the severity of the Asian Financial Crisis of July 1997.

Besides, Indonesia sought to pursue an alternative solution due to the lack of unanimity in ASEAN. In 1990, Indonesia conducted the Workshops on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea. The workshop functions on a ‘two-track diplomacy’: (a) regional cooperation between ASEAN and China (b) bilateral cooperation between claimant parties

This informal diplomacy did make significant contributions to the management of disputes as China was unwilling to work with multilateral arrangements.

ASEAN’s intervention II: Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)
On 4 November 2002, ASEAN promulgated another landmark agreement, which was known as the DOC at Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The document was signed by both China and ASEAN.

Contents included the reaffirmed commitment to adhere to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), TAC and other international law. For example, “The Parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means“.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How successful was ASEAN managing the South China Sea dispute? [to be discussed in class].

In view of the above-mentioned points, you should attempt source-based case study questions to review your knowledge competency. Join our JC History Tuition to improve your answering skills. You can consider other 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 Singapore - End of Cold War Case Studies - Source Based Case Study Skills

End of Cold War – Cartoon Analysis

In this article, we will be looking at a series of political cartoons to comprehend the interpretations of how the Cold War ended. Be familiar with the contrasting contextual interpretations shaped by the political leaders as well as the newspaper publications. By doing so, you can then better answer the source based case study questions featured in your GCE A Level History examination papers. We will be examining the third part: The End of Bipolarity

By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman – Published in an American newspaper, The Waterbury Republican and The Middletown press [1991]
The cartoon depicts a helpless Soviet leader Gorbachev observing the fragmented symbol of the nation (‘hammer and sickle’). Contextually, Gorbachev was facing a challenging situation by 1991, as the Soviet economy was on the decline, Soviet republics broke away from USSR and the August Coup was launched against him.
By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman – Published in an American newspaper, The Waterbury Republican and The Middletown press [1991]
The cartoon illustrates the three notable figures in the Communist world (Karl Marx, Stalin and Lenin) observing Gorbachev leading the funeral procession that represented the ‘demise of communism’. Contextually, Gorbachev improved relations with USA, as seen by INF Treaty and withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
By British political cartoonist Nicholas W. Garland – published in the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph [3 Jan 1986]
The cartoon depicts the two leaders, Reagan and Gorbachev, with outstretched hands, expressing their mutual desires to improve bilateral relations in the 1980s.
The caption reads ‘clear skies for all mankind‘, which is ironic as the world was illustrated as being in peril, such as Reagan’s SDI, covert operations in South America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua). Likewise, the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan.
Published in an American newspaper [27 Nov 1987]
The cartoon depicts a series of meetings from 1985 to 1988 that focused on arms control agreements signed between Reagan and Gorbachev, especially the INF Treaty of 1987. The caption reflects the cartoonist’s expression of relief that the world averted a nuclear confrontation as the two leaders backed down from the ‘large missile steps’
By British cartoonist Michael Cummings – Published in British tabloid newspaper, The Daily Express [24 August 1988]
The cartoon illustrates the helplessness of Soviet leader Gorbachev in ensuring that his glasnost (openness) reforms would be carried out effectively.
By German-Dutch political cartoonist Fritz Behrendt [1990]
The cartoon depicts the ‘powerlessness of USSR’ in which the Soviet republics (represented by the individuals holding flags) were moving away from the bear (USSR). It illustrates the inevitability of the political collapse, as seen by the 1989 Revolutions in Eastern Europe.
By American cartoonist Glenn McCoy – Published in an American newspaper, The Belleville News-Democrat [2009]
The cartoon was published to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It illustrates Reagan’s ‘footprint’ making a mark in causing the end of the Cold War.
By American editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe – published in American newspaper, The Denver Post [8 Jun 2004]
The cartoon illustrates the commemoration of former US President Ronald Reagan’s efforts in ending the Cold War, as portrayed by the collapse of the Berlin Wall that marked the physical division of Europe. Contextually, this cartoon was published one day after Reagan’s passing.
By British political cartoonist Nicholas W. Garland – published in the British newspaper, The Independent [10 Dec 1987]
The cartoon reflects the awkward handshake between Gorbachev and Reagan in a four-panel comic, which eventually concludes with a firm version. Contextually, it depicts the breakthrough in the arms control agreement signed during the Washington Summit on 8 Dec.

How do I use these sources to ace the Source Based Case Study questions?
Make sure that you have browsed through the above cartoons to understand the interpretations. Then, try to relate them to the context of examination questions. For example, ‘How far do you agree that the two leaders of USA and USSR were responsible for the end of the Cold War?’

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