Christian J. Tams

Christian J. Tams

Christian J. Tams is Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow. He specialises in dispute resolution and the law of international organisations.

Location University of Glasgow

Activity

  • dear all, this bbc report supports claims about bad management at the WHO: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/09/ebola-who-government-cuts-delays-in-dealing-with-outbreak

    this guardian story puts some blame on governments, and their decision to cut funding:...

  • dear all
    details for the regular UN budget (which, as discussed in a separate thread is distinct from the PK budget) are at http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N13/634/29/PDF/N1363429.pdf?OpenElement. for 2014, the UK contribution US $ 146million . the overall regular budget is under US $ 3 billion, the PK budget is in the region of $7 billion. ...

  • Let's hope you're right. We will definitely discuss linkages and compare the two organisations.
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Wait for the later steps in this week where we try to provide at least 'snapshots' of the UN's activity in various fields of intl relations
    Best wishes, Christian

  • I agree, and especially with your point about adaptation: the UN is in a constant process of reform - semper est reformanda ... (And as in the church, it always is too little too late)
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear Verla, so much of the UN's work takes place outside the SC - just as with the ,league (more so in fact), one of the challenges is to look beyond peace and security. More on that in the subsequent steps
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear Martin - but perhaps not that different at all: so much in the UN is just like a 'new League', and the central quest (and central challenge) remains the same
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear Susana, all these are crucial points - so I agree. But I feel our course is already quite packed with detail, and in terms of the big debate about world organisations, in which 'Paris 1919' marked a watershed, I felt we should not ignore San Francisco. No doubt as MOOCs proliferate, there will be a lot more on Bretton Woods
    Best wishes, Christian

  • dear dave, it's a big issue, and more on this will follow in step 3.5. i think the short answer is that
    - the league was discredited in peace & security
    - neither of the two major superpowers (US, USSR) had ever really engaged with it.
    but as we try to say in one of the later steps, below there surface there was much more continuity
    best wishes, christian

  • dear christine, thanks - we'll check and get back
    christian

  • cross-posted from another discussion on SC reform:

    Dear all, a quick thought on Security Council reform and the veto - a bit off topic, but perhaps not entirely. Assume you had played a major role in helping turn a run-down family house into a fancy weekend retreat: by spending time, money, using your special skills, etc. In recognition of your...

  • oh, i forgot to link the capstone doc in my last comment - here it is http://pbpu.unlb.org/pbps/library/capstone_doctrine_eng.pdf

  • Dear all, it's always difficut to find the right balance between history and contemporaneity. In this course, we definitely wanted to look at Paris 1919 as a key moment in a long-term process, so it seemed natural to include coverage of how things evolved.
    For Laura and Katherine, perhaps Srehrenica is the UN's Manchuria, and Rwanda its Abyssinia - I think...

  • Lots of detail on Security Council reform is at https://www.globalpolicy.org/security-council/security-council-reform.html. Curbing the veto power is a recurring theme, but pragmatic proposal accept it: the P5 would not go along with more radical reform proposals . Best wishes

  • Dear all, for detail on UN financing see https://www.globalpolicy.org/un-finance.html. The UN general budget is 2,8 billion p.a. , but the separate budget for peacekeeping is 3-4 times higher.
    As for the gemeral budget, member states pay contributions at a rate fixed by the GA budget committee, this should broadly reflect economic power, but is tweaked in...

  • I have commentd 10 posts up on SC reform. A lot of detail is at
    https://www.globalpolicy.org/security-council/security-council-reform.html
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear all, your comments point to a hugely exciting topic, which no course on the UN (which ours is not....) could ignore: the on-going debate about SC reform.
    The formal answer is that a membership status agreed in 1945 may become out of date, but of course none of the P5 automatically loses its permanent seat. Your concerns explains why the debate about SC...

  • Perhaps the course undersells peacekeeping a bit. For those who wamt more, here is a link to the 'capstone document' in which the UN tried to shore up principles and guidelines to to take PK into a new decade. There is a lot of detail on traditional v robust peacekeeping, and many case studies.
    For a full academic discussion, see the excellent book of my...

  • Dear all, here is some more info on Germany and the UN, from the website of the German United Nations Association: http://www.dgvn.de/germany-in-the-united-nations/40-years-of-german-membership-in-the-united-nations/

  • Dear all, Richard is absolutely right: one of the Germanies (FRG) insisted on exclusive representation until the 1960s, but that was not acceptable to the Societ Union and its allies. (Even when the two States were admitted in 1973, the FRG's foreign minister insisted this did not amount to a recognition of the GDR.). Under the Charter scheme, the admission of...

  • Christian J. Tams replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    dear martin, that's an intriguing fact. perhaps more discomfortingly, on 13 March 1995, 7168 since today, Celine Dion topped the UK charts with 'Think Twice'.
    but now i am spoiling what is left of my serious and sincere message
    best wishes, christian

  • Dear Alan, your question takes us into the (intriguing) detail of membership policies. The short answer is that the question was one of representation of an existing member State, which has been considered to be a prerogative of the General Assembly. So the GA, through Resolution 2758, was able to 'shift' the Chinese UN membership from one pretender to...

  • i could not agree more - wait for step 3.11 for anlittle more on international travel
    christian

  • Ah - you see a tutoring team 'in sync'...

  • Dear Stephen, that certainly was a major concern in the period after WW2 and explains why minority rights initially were not codified (when the UN focused on individual human rights). Too many people felt it would be a pretext for external intervention.

    One commentator puts it as follows: "the drafters of the post-war (ie after 1945) human rights framework...

  • Lena, two quick replies w.r.t. your initial comment ('disconnect between state owning territory and real control by companies'):

    * I think that is a valid point, and one that could be taken further - eg by saying that States have remained territorially grounded, but that our lives/the economy/capital etc no longer follow a territorial logic. (A point I was...

  • Dear Linda, many thanks, much appreciated, Christian

  • Dear Michael, thanks for raising this: perhaps I was not clear. I did not mean to say that territory ALWAYS had a mythical dimension to it, far from it. I meant to (grudgingly) accept that in some instances, it is treated as sacred by certain groups. But that is often a recipe for disaster, as it makes compromises so difficult.
    Katherine, did the Scots get...

  • Dear all, I agree that violent independence movements were a factor in some instances; this is what I meant with colonial powers agreeing 'under pressure' to let the colonies go. Probably, colonialism became unsustainable because of a mix of resistance in the colonies (sometimes more, sometimes less), outside pressures, exhaustion, and lack of legitimacy. ...

  • thanks, rosemary, that's very kind.
    for those who want more on the topic, this article provides a useful summary of the legal aspects of self-determination:
    http://pesd.princeton.edu/?q=node/254
    best wishes, christian

  • smug -- moi? never, and there was no reason
    thanks for your kind words, christian

  • oh yes, and eupen/malmedy, and northern schleswig, and silesia, and danzig, and german samoa, and many many many more... but as i keep saying, the map is meant to highlight a few of the changes. it is by no means comprehensive.
    has anyone come across a comprehensive map or full list that remains reasonably accessible? if so, please let (us) know. thanks...

  • Dear Asif, there is just so so much
    These are three fairly accessible books, each providing a lot of material
    • Fromkin. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (2001)
    • Karsh & Karsh, Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East 1789-1923
    • Barr, A Line in the Sand: The...

  • Dear Robertt, I have replied below to a similar post on German East Africa: copied for ease of reference

    "In some ways this was perhaps the most exciting - but the details wouldn't fit into the small text box: after WW1, German E.A. was partitioned, with parts becoming mandates of Belgium (Rwanda & (B)Urundi), parts British mandate (Tanganyika) and a small...

  • Dear Ann and John, we have "forgotten" (or rather: omitted) dozens of changes - the map really just shows a small fraction of territorial developments, and when they are shown, without any detail. In retrospect, judging from the comments, my idea to restrict myself to one caveat (at the start 'The following maps indicate some of the changes made to the world...

  • Oh dear, writing too fast... Thanks for checking

  • Dear Christopher, you are right - but as I tried to say below, in response to Amy Gackowska, we have very much focused on the lasting developments here and purposefully neglected temporary changes made World War 2 (and un-made thereafter).
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear Dave and Shaun
    here is an interesting view from 1917: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E07E7D9113AE433A2575BC1A9679D946696D6CF
    In November 1918, Alsace-Lorraine (after the abdication of the German Kaiser) briefly proclaimed independence. In mid-November, the French occupied Strasbourg and the region. At the Conference, France's claim...

  • Trianon is particularly tricky - but we'll get there: bear with us until step 2.5.
    Christian

  • Dear Alison, in some ways this was perhaps the most exciting - but the details wouldn't fit into the small text box: after WW1, German E.A. was partitioned, with parts becoming mandates of Belgium (Rwanda & (B)Urundi), parts British mandate (Tanganyika) and a small part allocated to Mazambique (then a Portuguese colony).
    Incidentally, while the German left...

  • Dear Rachel, and you are right: Many States had forced concessions in Shandong, and the British one (from the late 19th century) was Weihaiwei. After WW1 Japan acquired the former German concession in Kiauchao Bay (various spellings) centred around the town of Qingdao/Tsingtao. (The Germans left, the brewery stayed.) Weihaiwei was returned to China in...

  • Dear both, your comments touch upon another exciting story now hidden under the rubble and debris of the wars of 1990s. In 1918/19, there was considerable support for one State comprising various groups of southern ('Jugo-')Slavs. In late October 1918, the Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs assumed control over the formerly Austro-Hungarian territories and...

  • Ah, this survey step is becoming a house of traps... my empathy for Lloyd George et al in step 2.4. (bending over Nicolson's map) is growing by the minute...

    Dear Liviu-Marian, you are right, of course. But please note that we have mentioned the new entities in red - you'll see 'USSR' right next to 'RUSSIAN EMPIRE'. I hope this saves us from the worst...

  • ah, the charms of automatic transcripting - thanks for pointing this out: we will correct it
    christian

  • wait for step 2.6....

  • NOW CORRECTED - THANKS AGAIN

  • Dear Amy
    you are right – but note that since this step is in the form of a quick survey, we have decided to omit dozens of details; this applies to this small example as well as to all others in this step.
    The basic point I wanted to get across is that, after WW2, the boundaries drawn after WW1 was LARGELY reaffirmed. I would think that point stands; and...

  • Oh dear, you are right - that is a relevant typo (particularly embarassing for an international lawyer...). We will correct this.
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear Adrian: just to clarify - there will be no editing, neither of my transcript (which will forever include a reference to the signing up of pets) nor of comments. (The only exception is for comments that violate 'netiquette'.)
    What I meant to say at the beginning of the tutorial was that in assessing the influence of Wilson/Smuts and others, we should...

  • here is some science fiction/future history (on our topic) that has remained fiction: HG Wells' SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME predicting a superstate to emerge in the 1960. but that conference in basra (see book II, section 5) never really happened. more in week 3
    best wishes, christian

    full text at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301391h.html

  • OK, but they need to register...

  • Paul (and all other teachers), the materials are likely to remain online (though w/out discisssion monitoring), and we may schedule reruns. So feel free to use this in class
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear Chris - couldn't agree more, and will stop using it.
    The BRUCE REPORT (which I mentioned at the end of the tutorial) had this to say:
    ‘So called “technical problems” are in every country political questions, frequently the
    cause of internal controversy and often necessitating international negotiation.’
    Best wishes, Christian

  • and i really said that, too? i think the transcript will need to be edited ...

  • oh, i agree - that's why it's a false dichotomy. it was just meant to suggest that IOs should not just be judged by their performance in war prevention

  • johnathan, did i really say that ('service oriented')? how ill-advised. well, i hope we are, but if this is recorded, we can now he held against it...

    'tutorial' is our second term: in a previous MOOC, this was called a google hangout, which people considered off-putting. what would you call it?

    just out of curiosity, where do you blog about FL?
    best...

  • Barbara, on your penultimate comment: it's always give-and-take, but I think the League justly claimed 'Mosul' as one of its successes: The Treatyof Lausanne had required the League to settle the boundary between Turkey and Mesopotamia/Iraq (unless Turkey/UK agreed, which they did not). The League requested the Permanent Court (on which more in week 2) to...

  • Quick follow-up: I would see Aland as one of the disputes where the League's approach was contestable, but paved the way for a relatively stable solution. From today's perspective, perhaps South Tyrol could be viewed in a similar way (given to Italy in 1919), but this has only worked out from the 1970s/1980s.
    As to self-determination: the problem is that no...

  • Peter, you may be closer to the action and know more. But: I do not think the League ever organised a referendum on the Aland islands. (As you say, it ignored it...). The League's main involvement was through a Commissions of Jurists appointed by the Council to assess the legal status. The Commissions and Council in essence said 4 things: (i) That the League...

  • Dear Alan, that makes it three, doesn't it? Let's hope we'll stay below 10 overall... This is what comes from writing online and never looking at proper proofs. Many thanks
    Christian

  • Russia was not represented at Paris, one of the major problems - brief comments on that in the tutorial and in week 2. Many of the decisions takenwere influenced by the fear of bolshevism, though.
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Dear all, on Katherine's and Shaun's bigger point: you are right, the course has fairly little on Germany/central powers. But in some ways that is deliberate, as I think that usually, all the talk is just about Germany. My aim has been to discuss the League as an organisation and a novel element in the post-War order. No doubt, its lack of universality was a...

  • Dear Barbara, your initial point is well taken - the League often remained on the sidelines, incl in the early years. I chose Manchuria and Abyssinia as glaring failures: but they were not the only ones.
    As regards the Ruhr crisis, the question goes more to the rights of FRA and BEL under the Versailles Treaty; they were entitled in principle to respond to...

  • I'm sure that's one factor explaining why things went downhill so fast in the 1930s. The League as a 'fairweather institution' is the common critique.

  • Just copying from a prior comment (a few comments up) to highlight different views on this point:

    (a) "After the first World War, there was a tendency to regard the League of Nations as something outside the ordinary range of foreign policy. Governments continued on the old lines" (Clemence Attlee)
    (b) But contrast YEARWOOD, Guarantee of Peace. Lon in...

  • Dear Robert and Jason,

    Clemence Attlee saw things just like you did. In 1946, he said this before the General Assembly: "After the first World War, there was a tendency to regard the League of Nations as something outside the ordinary range of foreign policy. Governments continued on the old lines, pursuing individual aims, following the path of power...

  • Dear Michael, I agree entirely: Arts 11-16 choked collective security rather than facilitating effective responses. And thereby undermined Article 10, which Wilson and others held so dear: "The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of...

  • Dear Allan, just to say that I share your note of caution: we can easily dismiss appeasement as a failure today, but it was widely popular then. When Chamberlain spoke at Heston Airport, the crowd was (by British standards) almost ecstatic: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO725Hbzfls
    Best wishes, Christian

  • Mia, not sure the League had much of a say in the Munich conference - some of its key members were quite able to opt for appeasement themselves, so naivity was probably quite en vogue for a while. But as usual, easy to say all this from today's vantage point: in 1938, Chamberlain read his 'peace for our time' speech "to a jubilant crowd gathered at Heston...

  • Andrew, your 2nd para echoes Northedge and Zara Steiner, as quoted in the text; and I think it is the correct view. As for stepping up the plate, the question is how you do that (as an Intern Organisation) if your member States are not going along - which brings us back to one of the big questions: the relationship between the League and its members. More on...

  • Dear Ed and Claire, the 'biblical' connotation is frequently mentioned and traced to WW's firm religious beliefs. The 'safer' explanation accepts the 'Wilsonian' origin but does not rely on connotation: it points to the 14 points speech, which we have discussed frequently here: point 14 calls for "A general association of nations .. formed under specific...

  • Dear all, I realise this is a broad 'reflective' step - but I am not sure how this discussion helps us much in understanding Paris or the LoN? The foreign policy aims of the Nazi gvmt have been discussed at length - and the British debate, certainly since AJP Taylor, has been distinctive from the one that I grew up with (in Germany). It all depends on (a) how...

  • Dear all, different people view European integration differently - from James Devaney's 'shining example' to Frederick's 'Trojan horse' or Peter Fluck's 'fundamentally non-democratic'.
    From the perspective of our course, a separate point to me seems more relevant than these differences of opinion: the League was set up primarily as a collective security...

  • --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9foi342LXQE
    (Service with a smile)
    Christian

  • Dear Delphine, that is indeed a fundamental issue, and I hope we can come back to that - whether in the remainder of week 1 or in week 3.

    With a view to getting us to discuss your point (ie as devil's advocate):
    * Could we say that an organisation that fails to prevent 3 wars (resulting in, say, 100,000 deaths each), but at the same time administers...

  • Dear John, I fully agree: we talk about the League failures (and rightly so), but it also was an organisation with grassroots support that inspired many people. The League of Nations Union (set up to foster the cause of internationalism) in Britain had 400,000 members in 1931. And, to come back to a point I made earlier (in another post): one reason why I...