United Nations Protection of Humanity and its Habitat: A New International Law of Security and Protection.

AuthorHoff, Samuel B.
PositionBook review

Ramcharan, Bertrand G. United Nations Protection of Humanity and its Habitat: A New International Law of Security and Protection. Leiden; Boston: Brill Nijhoff, 2016. xxi + 278 pages. Hardcover, $229.00.

This work was inspired by the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations in 2015. Author Bertrand Ramcharan's background includes both academic and practical experience. In the academic field, he has been a professor at several institutions and Chancellor of the University of Guyana, his native country. Associated with the United Nations itself, he has previously served as head of the speechwriting for the UN Secretary General, director of one of the divisions of the UN Department of Public Affairs, and member or director of several UN commissions on human rights, among other posts. The overarching theme of the book is that despite the UN's challenges, its protection role is consistent with the founding spirit of the organization and will help define its future effectiveness as a world body.

In the Introduction, Ramcharan evaluates the UN's current practice of protection in a dozen areas, finding that although some, such as humanitarian actions, have been quite successful, others, like peacekeeping operations, have not. The subsequent twelve chapters proceed to explain performance in these areas and to recommend strategies for improvement moving forward. There is no specific division to the text, but one can find patterns in the coverage of the areas provided.

Several chapters deal with the alignment and operation of the UN and how these features contribute to its protection function. Chapter 1 highlights UN structure and approaches to protecting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in societies, including children, women, the poor, the disabled, and those suffering from disease. Chapter 2 examines legal and judicial standards for protection. In Chapter 3, the author presents a series of UN resolutions which have responded to various threats and challenges. Chapter 4 delineates the roles of the UN Secretary General and of the Security Council in protection of humanity and habitat and identifies a series of measures, such as intercessions, fact-finding, and stand-by arrangements. Chapter 12 contains a separate analysis of the roles of the Security Council.

Chapters 5 through 7 demonstrate the UN's protection role in preserving the Earth and its surroundings. Chapter 5 reviews key UN initiatives for protecting the environment over the last...

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