The Future of UN Peacekeeping and Multilateralism in an Era of U.S. Primacy
USIP Press Books
November 2007
338 pp., 6" x 9"
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“A thoughtful and wide-ranging survey of the UN’s contribution to peacekeeping and world politics after the Cold War. Jean-Marc Coicaud’s study effectively combines the nuanced perspective of a former UN insider with the philosophic analysis of a disciplined scholar. I recommend it wholeheartedly to both UN practitioners and the students and professors who follow UN affairs.”

—Michael W. Doyle, Columbia University, and former UN assistant secretary-general
Whatever happened to multilateral peacekeeping? This is the central question Jean-Marc Coicaud explores in this penetrating scholarly examination of the period of “robust” UN-mandated peacekeeping missions in humanitarian crises. The most notable peace operations during this period were undertaken by the three leading NATO powers—the United States foremost among them—in the immediate post–Cold War era. Yet, as Coicaud explains, the international democratic solidarity that unified their multilateral action against a Soviet threat was stretched thin in the post–Cold War era, which manifested an entirely new set of threats to international security—such as ethnic cleansing and failed states. The three leading Western powers were ill-equipped to handle them effectively in terms of the fundamental political theory and applied political philosophy that generally informed their traditional foreign policies. The book concludes with guidelines for more effective realization of international interests among the Western powers and an afterword on the book’s lessons applied to Darfur.

Jean-Marc Coicaud, a former senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, is the head of the United Nations University (UNU) office at UN headquarters in New York. Coicaud has been a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School and New York University’s School of Law, and held appointments with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Parliament’s Financial Committee, the Sorbonne, and the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.


  • Introduction
  • The Extent and the Limits of Peace Operations in the 1990s
  • The United Nations and Its Shortcomings as an International Bureaucracy
  • The Structure of International Politics and the Dilemmas of Solidarity
  • Clinton's Foreign Policy and the Quandary of National and International Interests
  • The Bush Revolution in U.S. Foreign Policy and the Sidelining of Internationalism
  • Toward the International Rule of Law
  • Afterword

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