Globalization: The relevancy of the United Nations

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Discuss homework answers.

Open with discussion about the difficulty of balancing interests among nations. Treaty of Versailles negotiation activity:

Treaty of Versailles Negotiation Game – Teachers’ Instructions

1.      Context

         As part of Modern World GCSE study of the Treaty of Versailles.   You should have studied hopes for the peace, aims of the Big Three, terms of the Treaty and reaction of the Germans and be approaching the topic ‘Verdicts on the Treaty’.   Although it could be played by any class studying the ToV, the game is specifically designed to complement the scheme on and following webpages.

2.      Aim

To show pupils how difficult it was to negotiate the Treaty of Versailles, and how none of the Big Three really got what they wanted from the Treaty.

3.      Lesson Plan

a.   Pupils read about the verdicts of the Big Three on the Treaty – e.g. using the webpage or page 8 of the accompanying booklet at .   It might be useful if the pupils remind themselves what each of the Big 3 wanted from the peace.

b.   Divide the class into three teams of roughly equal ability (to represent France, America and Britain).   Give them their country briefing sheets and the ‘Treaty of Versailles Decisions’ sheet.

c.   Explain the nature of the game.   They are to imagine that they are negotiators at Versailles.   Of course, although everyone wants peace, everyone also wants to get the best deal for their country as well – and France, Britain and America all want very different things.   The issues that have to be decided are listed on the ‘Treaty of Versailles Decisions’ sheet.   What the possible decisions are (and how much their country would want them) are indicated by the scores + and – on the country briefing sheets.   The size of the score + or – indicates how much you want or don’t want that.   To get something you really want, you might be prepared to forgo some of the issues of less importance.   Point out that some scores imagine a ‘perfect decision’ with penalties if the decision is for less, or more.   Point out that the average score is about 25 points, and that they are unlikely to win if they get a final score lower than that.

d.   Tell them how the game will proceed, with a time of country-planning, followed by a period of negotiation, followed by a round-table conference.

e.   Allow the pupils 5 minutes-or-so for planning in their country groups, studying the score sheet, asking you questions if necessary, plotting what they are going to try to get, and what they might give away if necessary.

f.    Allow time (e.g. 15 mins – more for an able class, less for a less motivated class) for negotiations with the other countries: ‘Will you support this?   What do you want?’ etc.

With about 5 minutes to go, drop in the fact that decisions MUST be unanimous.

g.   Call a whole-class conference.   Get the pupils to elect a competent chairperson, but you act as secretary.   The chairperson goes through the agenda, seeking proposals, soliciting explanations, and letting the meeting find a unanimous decision.   It may be necessary on some points to leave them and come back to them later, or even to adjourn the meeting for another period of negotiation.

Insist in unanimity, and do not allow the class to leave until all decisions are made.

When finished, get the 3 teams to total their points and find the winner.

4.      Plenary

g.   If you have time (or next lesson), discuss what the game taught the pupils about the Treaty of Versailles.


Discuss UN Background handout.

Overview of how the U.S. interacted with the U.N. in the wake of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks:

In 2002, Bush made a case against Iraq to the UN, asking “Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?” This was a clear hint that if the UN Security Council did not agree to an attack to get rid of Saddam Hussein, it would show that it was no longer relevant to the purpose for which it had been founded.

But Bush ended up making the UN irrelevant in regard to Iraq, by demonstrating that it could only stand on the sidelines while its most powerful member, with one or two allies, attacked a virtually defenseless member state that was not itself, at the time, engaged in any aggressive activity beyond its borders.

UN Charter, Article 2, Section 3: “All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means.” Section 4: “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Bush’s threats were in clear violation, but UN powerless to do anything about it.

Much support for a Pax Americana – US as sole global peace keeper. Hatred toward UN, and hope it would fall.

Then Secretary General Kofi Annan told the General Assembly that the arguments of those who assert a right to strike preemptively against other nations are contrary to the United Nations  Charter and represent a fundamental challenge to the principles on which the United Nations has worked for the past 58 years. The use of force in circumstances other than self defense should only be taken with the authority of the United Nations.

In the months before the attack on Iraq, the Bush administration and its supporters claimed that the UN was failing to enforce its resolutions requiring Iraq to disarm. In response, the Security Council required Iraq to submit to inspections that would ascertain if it had complied with the resolution’s. At the same time, and while the inspections were failing to find any weapons of mass destruction, the US claimed it had irrefutable evidence of the existence of such weapons in Iraq. It insisted the UN should declare Iraq in breach of its obligations and authorize the use of force. France, Russia, and others quested the evidence and said inspectors should be given more time. US responded with outrage and claimed this that of veto was proof the UN had failed and went ahead with the attack.

No weapons of mass destruction were found, and it later emerged that the intelligence the US presented to the UN was much weaker than it had appeared. One document relied on by Secretary of State Colin Powell was admitted to be a forgery, and other evidence was open to more innocent interpretations that were not offered to the United Nations. In other words, further inspections would have been the right path.

Follow-up question: How relevant is the UN in the globalized world? Arab Spring and social media. Role of social media in the future? Talk about memes and spreading awareness, etc. Continue this through to next day.

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