United Nations

The United Nations plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of international security, humanitarian laws, and social progress. RAND has examined the efficacy and effectiveness of the United Nations in such areas as nation-building, peacekeeping, and stability operations.

  • Map of the Spratly Islands, 2015, image by U.S. Department of State

    Report

    The Political Geography of the South China Sea Disputes

    Until the early 20th century, the South China Sea was seen as a vital communications and trade passage that was not under the jurisdiction of any country or empire. How did littoral states' claims on its maritime zones and features develop? And what is the likely future of the disputes?

    Oct 19, 2022

  • Signing of Treaty on Outer Space in May, 1964, photo by United Nations/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    Commentary

    Reduce Friction in Space by Amending the 1967 Outer Space Treaty

    Space has the potential to be a domain in which current great-power competitions and frictions can be mediated. The international community might consider updating the existing space legal regime to ensure it meets current political, economic, social, and technical challenges.

    Aug 26, 2022

  • A suspected missile is fired, in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 22, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Multimedia

    North Korean Sanctions Evasion

    The United Nations imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the six nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. In this film, experts discuss the threats posed by North Korean proliferation and the importance of enforcing sanctions.

    Aug 15, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Considering Responsible Behaviours as Part of Managing Threats to Space Systems

    Space is becoming more contested, competed and congested. This report covers Wilton Park consultations on how to define and promote responsible behaviors in space, ahead of formal United Nations negotiations to try to reduce threats to space security.

    May 17, 2022

  • Ukrainian service members walk on the front line near Kyiv as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 30, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    Time for a U.N. Peace Enforcement Operation in Northern Ukraine?

    Now that the Russian military in Ukraine has retreated north, a de facto cease-fire is in place in Kyiv and central Ukraine. This could present an opportunity for the United Nations to call for a formal cease-fire in reclaimed territory and issue a recommendation to willing states to move into Ukraine with a peacekeeping force.

    Apr 27, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting on the sidelines of a BRICS summit, in Brasilia, Brazil, November 13, 2019, photo by Ramil Sitdikov/Sputnik via Reuters

    Report

    The Chinese-Russian Relationship and Its Risks to U.S. Interests

    Over the past 70 years, China and Russia have experienced the full range of interstate relations, from conflict to alliance. Beijing and Moscow have become much closer since 2014, increasing political, military, and economic cooperation. What does this mean for the United States?

    Oct 12, 2021

  • The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a mausoleum in Pyongyang, North Korea, photo by narvikk/iStock

    Report

    How Does North Korea Evade Sanctions?

    The United Nations has imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the six nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. Enforcement has been mixed, and North Korea has become adept at several techniques to evade sanctions.

    Sep 23, 2021

  • Syrian refugee children in the Ketermaya refugee camp, outside Beirut, Lebanon on June 1, 2014, photo by Dominic Chavez/World Bank

    Report

    New Solutions Are Urgently Needed for Displaced Populations

    There are 30 million refugees around the globe. These people are living in limbo without full citizenship rights. And their host countries are experiencing ever-greater political and economic strains. The need to find both durable and interim solutions is critical.

    Aug 26, 2021

  • Super Typhoon Noru photographed by ISS astronaut Randy Bresnick above the Northwestern Pacific Ocean on August 1, 2017, photo courtesy of NASA

    Report

    Responsible Space Behavior for the New Space Era

    The early space domain was dominated by two superpowers. Today, the world has more than 60 spacefaring nations, multiple commercial space operators, and a global economy that is inextricably linked to space. Now is the time to develop responsible space norms.

    Apr 26, 2021

  • Supporters of the Houthi movement take part in a rally marking the anniversary of launching their motto (Sarkha) in which they call for death to America and death to Israel in Sanaa, Yemen, June 28, 2019, photo by Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters

    Report

    Building an Enduring Peace in Yemen

    Peace in Yemen will require a coordinated approach to security and an international body with the influence, mission, and resources to support what will be a decades-long process of reconciliation, reconstruction, and redevelopment. To succeed, this body must be led by Yemenis, giving them a clear voice and stake in shaping their future.

    Feb 22, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Africa's Role in Nation-Building: An Examination of African-Led Peace Operations

    What have the peacekeeping missions undertaken by African institutions in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Darfur, the Comoros, Somalia, and the Lake Chad Basin achieved?

    Jun 28, 2019

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    How African Institutions Help Keep the Peace

    African-led missions are often the peacekeepers of last resort, taking on tasks rejected by others. Two of the six African operations examined helped set a relatively peaceful trajectory. Three of the missions contributed to improving security.

    Jun 28, 2019

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping attend a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017

    Commentary

    Without Reform and Cooperation with China, the International System Cannot Hold

    No rule-based international order can survive without Chinese support. Reforms are needed to address Beijing's concerns and provide it with a continued stake in the order. The trick is to decide where compromise is acceptable for U.S. interests and to draw clear lines around principles where it is not.

    Jun 25, 2018

  • Syrian medical staff take part in a training exercise on how to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks, Gaziantep, Turkey, July 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Are Chemical Weapons Becoming a Tacitly Accepted Weapon of War?

    The international community should consider serious options to hold perpetrators of chemical attacks accountable and stop further attacks. These are not easy choices. But the alternative is accepting that long-held norms are crumbling, and the world is sliding back to a time when inhumane tools of war were common.

    Apr 18, 2018

  • Blue globe puzzle

    Report

    Testing the Value of the Postwar International Order

    The postwar order offers significant value to U.S. interests and objectives and is worth the investment. It represents a leading U.S. competitive advantage. At a time of growing rivalry, nationalism, and uncertainty, a functioning multilateral order will be essential.

    Jan 8, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump is shown on a large screen as he addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017

    Commentary

    The Multilateral Order Makes America Stronger

    Skeptics have suggested that U.S. interests and support for the international community are somehow mutually exclusive. In fact, international institutions, rules, and norms have mostly worked in the U.S. interest, not against it. The Trump administration has an opportunity to build on that record with a strong agenda of reform and support.

    Sep 26, 2017

  • Security forces deploy to secure the area after an overnight raid on a restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, August 14, 2017

    Commentary

    Sahel Governments Need More Security Assistance

    Developments in the Sahel are cause for alarm. Despite the presence of an active French counterterrorism force and a UN peacekeeping mission, al Qaeda groups are thriving. The region would benefit from approaches that combine police and military operations with economic development and improved governance.

    Sep 14, 2017

  • Headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

    Report

    Measuring the Health of the International Order

    The liberal international order that has been in place since 1945 is relatively stable. But the order is threatened by geopolitical and domestic socioeconomic trends that call into question its assumptions. U.S. support and engagement over the coming decade will be essential.

    Sep 5, 2017

  • News Release

    News Release

    Russia Perceives U.S.-Led International Order as a Threat to Its Security and Interests, but Also Seeks Cooperation

    Russia sees the international order as dominated by the United States and as a threat to its interests. While U.S. and Russian interests overlap and cooperation is feasible in some areas like counterterrorism, others conflict, such as U.S. support for liberal democracy and the expansion of NATO. What are U.S. policy options?

    May 18, 2017

  • The Kremlin appears on top of a map of the Mediterranean region

    Report

    How Does Russia View the International Order?

    Russia sees the U.S.-led international order as a threat to its interests. U.S. and Russian interests overlap in some areas, such as counterterrorism. But they are directly opposed in others. What are America's policy options?

    May 18, 2017