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


  • dear all, this bbc report supports claims about bad management at the WHO:

    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 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

  • 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

  • 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 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 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
    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:

  • 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

  • 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:
    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:
    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.

  • 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