Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Political Science

First Advisor

Richard Stahler-Sholk

Second Advisor

Jeffrey L. Bernstein


The year 2015 will mark the 70th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations (UN). The United Nations was created in October 1945, right after the Second World War that destroyed many states all around the world. This international organization, in its Charter, vowed to maintain international peace and to that end remove any threat to such peace. The 20th century has been marked by the rise of new forms of security that do not neatly fit into the original UN model of relations between sovereign states -- particularly genocides, civil war and terrorism. This thesis will examine the work of the United Nations Security Council (SC) during and after the Cold War (1945-91) in order to assess its effectiveness when dealing with security issues and why this council has not been able to prevent major conflicts in some parts of the world. In order to do so, this research will focus on several cases the Security Council dealt with since 1945, notably those that involved ethnic cleansing, civil wars, genocides and transnational issues. I will argue that the shortcomings in the Security Council's effectiveness in preventing major conflicts can be explained primarily by its structure as well as the unexpected rise of civil conflicts in newly independent states. This thesis will focus on the Cold War period, the post Cold war period and the current period of growing transnational issues. These cases will show that the Security Council has not managed to fully keep its promises of removing any threat to peace and security.