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.

  • Another Year Without Daesh: Walking Down The Streets , Photo by Staff Sgt. Ray Boyington/U.S. Department of Defense

    Journal Article

    Implementing Safe Areas: Lessons from History

    While safe areas are intuitively attractive, their effectiveness depends on the resources and resolve of the implementing forces, rules of engagement, and geography.

    Feb 26, 2024

  • Unrecognizable person taking toxic samples, photo by SrdjanPav/Getty Images


    Attributing Biological Weapons Use

    Why is attribution of biological weapons use so important? And how can the U.S. Department of Defense better support investigations into deliberate biological incidents?

    Feb 6, 2024

  • Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during a United Nations peacekeeping mission

    Journal Article

    The Future of Multilateral Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention

    The multilateral system, defined as the set of rules, norms, and institutions that together constitute the world's governance architecture, is not static. Several drivers of change threaten to erode hard-earned gains the system has delivered.

    Feb 5, 2024

  • Prisoners suspected of being part of the Islamic State, lie inside a prison cell in Hasaka, Syria, January 7, 2020, photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters


    How to Approach the Situation of ISIS Prisoners in Syria

    Prisons holding former ISIS fighters in Syria pose security threats and don't meet international standards. Prisoners, including youth, remain in legal limbo with no internationally agreed-on justice procedures. What courses of action and policy directions could help?

    Aug 9, 2023

  • Members of the Houthi movement stand by as a plane carrying the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg arrives at the Sanaa International Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen June 8, 2022, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters


    Yemen's Year-Long Truce Creates Opportunities for Durable Peace

    The truce in Yemen does not represent a comprehensive peace, but it does offer a path to ending the civil war for good. Going forward, an inclusive political process—one that includes all parts of Yemeni society, including women, civil society groups, and youth—will be critical.

    Jul 10, 2023

  • Report


    Antarctica at Risk: Geostrategic Manoeuvring and the Future of the Antarctic Treaty System

    Leveraging open-source literature and a tabletop exercise, the authors examine the possible implications that geostrategic manoeuvring in the Antarctic in the coming decades might have on the longevity and resilience of the Antarctic Treaty System.

    Jun 13, 2023

  • Report


    International Space Traffic Management: Charting a Course for Long-Term Sustainability

    As outer space becomes more congested, contested, and competitive, risks to space safety, security, and sustainability heighten. The authors identified lessons from other domains and offer recommendations to make progress in space traffic management.

    Jun 5, 2023

  • A ring of debris (space junk) orbits the Earth. Image by JohanSwanepoel/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Now Is the Time for Space Traffic Management

    The growing number of objects in orbit has increased the potential for overcrowding, debris creation, and, ultimately, collisions. If space powers don't establish an international space traffic management organization soon, the world could lose key portions of its orbital resources.

    Jun 5, 2023

  • Report


    Cross-Domain Lessons for Space Traffic Management: An Analysis of Air and Maritime Treaty Governance Mechanisms

    In this report, the authors examine the treaty-based governance systems from both the air and maritime domains as potential models for the development of an international space traffic management system.

    Jan 25, 2023

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


    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, <a href=


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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