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Land of Blue Helmets

The United Nations and the Arab World

Karim Makdisi (Editor), Vijay Prashad (Editor)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 552 pages
ISBN: 9780520286948
October 2016
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
Born in 1945, the United Nations came to life in the Arab world. It was there that the UN dealt with early diplomatic challenges that helped shape its institutions such as peacekeeping and political mediation. It was also there that the UN found itself trapped in, and sometimes part of, confounding geopolitical tensions in key international conflicts in the Cold War and post–Cold War periods, such as hostilities between Palestine and Iraq and between Libya and Syria. Much has changed over the past seven decades, but what has not changed is the central role played by the UN. This book’s claim is that the UN is a constant site of struggle in the Arab world and equally that the Arab world serves as a location for the UN to define itself against the shifting politics of its age. Looking at the UN from the standpoint of the Arab world, this volume collects some of the finest scholars and practitioners writing about the potential and the problems of a UN that is framed by both the promises of its Charter and the contradictions of its member states. This is a landmark book—a close and informed study of the UN in the region that taught the organization how to do its many jobs.
List of Abbreviations
Introduction - Karim Makdisi and Vijay Prashad


1 • The Role of the UN Secretary-General: A Historical Assessment - Andrew Gilmour
2 • Palestine, the Third World, and the UN as Seen from a Special Commission - Lori Allen
3 • On Behalf of the United Nations: Serving as Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council for Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 - Richard Falk
4 • The UN Statehood Bid: Palestine’s Flirtation with Multilateralism - Noura Erakat
5 • The Wrong Kind of Intervention in Syria - Asli Bâli and Aziz Rana


6 • Constructing Security Council Resolution 1701 in Lebanon in the Shadow of the “War on Terror” - Karim Makdisi
7 • The UN Security Council and Ghosts of Iraq - Poorvi Chitalkar and David M. Malone
8 • Iraq: Twenty Years in the Shadow of Chapter VII - Coralie Pison Hindawi
9 • Libya: A UN Resolution and NATO’s Failure to Protect - Jeff Bachman
10 • Peacekeeping and the Arab World: India’s Rise and Its Impact on UN Missions in Sudan = Zachariah Mampilly


11 • The UN Human Rights Game and the Arab Region: Playing Not to Lose - Fateh Azzam
12 • The Politics of the Sanctions on Iraq and the UN Humanitarian Exception = Hans-Christof von Sponeck
13 • An Agency for the Palestinians? - Jalal Al Husseini
14 • Challenged but Steadfast: Nine Years with Palestinian Refugees and the UN Relief and Works Agency = Filippo Grandi
15 • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Iraq Refugee Operation: Resettling Refugees, Shifting the Middle East Humanitarian Landscape - Arafat Jamal
16 • The Syrian Refugee Crisis in the Middle East - Shaden Khallaf
17 • The Middle East: A Mandatory Return to Humanitarian Action - Caroline Abu Sa’Da

PART FOUR - DEVELOPMENT 18 • The UN, the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, and Development in the Arab World = Omar Dahi
19 • The United Nations, Palestine, Liberation, and Development - Raja Khalidi
20 • Peacebuilding in Palestine: Western Strategies in the Context of Colonization - Mandy Turner
21 • The International Labour Organization and Workers’ Rights in the Arab Region: The Need to Return to Basics - Walid Hamdan
22 • Peacekeeping, Development, and Counterinsurgency: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and “Quick Impact Projects” - Susann Kassem
23 • The Protective Shields: Civil Society Organizations and the UN in the Arab Region = Kinda Mohamadieh

List of Contributors
Karim Makdisi is Associate Professor of International Politics at the American University of Beirut and Research Director of the UN in the Arab World program at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. Vijay Prashad is Professor of International Studies at Trinity College and Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

"Karim Makdisi and Vijay Prashad’s Land of Blue Helmets: The United Nations and the Arab World therefore offers not only an important scholarly contribution but also one of some political urgency for anyone who seeks to gain a better understanding of the past, and probable future, work of the UN."

"Reviled for partitioning Palestine and then standing by as its people were uprooted and dispossessed, yet revered for its tireless efforts to contain the damage and restore human dignity, the United Nations, with its multiple organs and divergent agendas, often brings to Arab minds the two faces of Janus. To the undiscerning eye, those who inflict the wounds in battle and those who try to save the wounded look the same in blood-stained shirts. Karim Makdisi and Vijay Prashad's book offers remarkable insight into a complex and multifaceted United Nations, disentangling the threads of its intense and often paradoxical engagement with the Arab world."—Rima Khalaf, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
 "The operational UN came of age and has stumbled into old age in the turbulent politics of the Middle East. Land of Blue Helmets is a fascinating set of essays by first-class analysts. A must-read for anyone interested in the problems and prospects of multilateralism in general and multilateralism in the Middle East in particular."—Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

"This collection of timely essays is an important addition to the literature on the United Nations and the Arab world. Finally, in one volume, we have a comprehensive review of the UN’s complex role in the region. The authors assembled by Makdisi and Prashad mix insightful analysis of the strengths and limits of the organization with a fascinating account of the political context in which it operates. The book is a must-read for scholars and practitioners alike."—Ian Johnstone, Professor of International Law, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

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