Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Major Conflicts

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Major Conflicts

Article excerpt

The UN's main goal is to maintain world peace, especially by contributing to the resolution of major confrontations


In 1948, the city of Berlin was divided into two zones: West Berlin under British, French and American occupation, and East Berlin under Soviet occupation. In a bid to curb inflation, on 18 June the United States, France and the United Kingdom introduced a monetary reform which was meant to include West Berlin. On 23 June, Stalin intervened and barred all land and river access to the city from the western sectors.

The Western powers mounted an emergency airlift, which kept the city supplied for almost one year. In September, they brought the issue before the Security Council. The Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, organized consultations which reached a successful conclusion on 4 May 1949 and led to the lifting of the blockade.


The origins of the partition of Korea date back to the end of the Second World War. In 1948, in spite of United Nations efforts to establish a united Korean State, the country was split in two. The same year, the General Assembly created the United Nations Commission on Korea, which was replaced in 1950 by the United Nations Commission for the Reunification and Rehabilitation of Korea.

On 25 June 1950, the Korean War broke out. On 7 July, the Security Council created an international force under unified command. Contingents from 16 countries joined the military forces of South Korea.

The Soviet Union, having refrained from occupying its seat on the Security Council for six months(*), considered that the Council's decision was illegal because it had been taken in its absence, but this had no effect.

On 1 August, the Soviet Union decided to return to the Council and vetoed all the draft resolutions put to it.

On 3 November, Dean Acheson, the American Secretary of State, secured the adoption of a resolution authorizing the General Assembly to deal with matters blocked by a veto in the Security Council and, in case of need, to allow the use of force by a two-thirds majority vote.

In the same month, volunteers from the People's Republic of China joined in the war alongside North Korea. The Council requested the withdrawal of the Chinese troops, only to be faced with the Soviet veto. In response, the Assembly formed a group to examine the conditions for a cease-fire.

On 18 May 1951, the General Assembly decided to impose an embargo on China. On 30 June, North Korea accepted an armistice offer. A preliminary agreement was reached in February 1952. On 27 July 1953, at Panmunjom, the United Nations command and the Chinese-North Korean command signed an armistice agreement, thus bringing the Korean War to an end.

A joint communique issued by the two governments on 4 July 1972 announced that their common aim was to promote national unity and to seek reunification by peaceful means.

In 1991, the two countries were simultaneously admitted to the United Nations.


The question of Palestine is at the origin of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. In 1947, when the General Assembly had to decide on its future, this territory administered by the United Kingdom had a population of about two million inhabitants (composed of two-thirds Arabs and one-third Jews).

On 29 November, the General Assembly adopted a partition plan providing for the creation of an Arab state and a Jewish state, with Jerusalem coming under an international regime administered by the United Nations. In December, this plan was rejected by the Arab Summit meeting held in Cairo.

On 14 May 1948, the United Kingdom relinquished its mandate over Palestine. The state of Israel was proclaimed. On the following day, the Palestinians, together with the armies of Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, opened hostilities against the new state. In 1949, these four countries and Israel signed armistice agreements. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.