Lecture Notes














































Collective Security

In a collective security arrangement, everybody agrees to defend everyone else.

According to the UN Charter, a primary purpose of the UN is to “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” Did the founders of the United Nations have a magic formula for preventing future wars? No, but they did have a theory. The theory is called collective security.

Imagine a playground where fights are common. One strategy to protect yourself might be to form a defensive alliance. If any person in your group gets attacked, the whole group pledges to come to that person’s defense. In other words, you’ve formed a gang for protection.

Unfortunately, fights still break out, and now these fights sometimes escalate into gang wars. Then someone comes up with a new idea: What if we form a defensive alliance that includes everyone on the playground? And if any person gets attacked—everyone else on the playground will come to that person’s defense! This idea is called collective security.

On a global scale, collective security is a strategy in which a group of nations agree not to attack each other and to defend each other against an attack from one of the others, if such an attack is made.  The principle is that “an attack against one is an attack against all.” It differs from “collective defense” which is a coalition of nations which agree to defend its own group against outside attacks.


Check Your Understanding

  1. A basic principle of the UN is that “an attack against one is an attack against all.” This idea is called a _______________________________ arrangement. 
  2. In theory, if any member of the United Nations gets attacked, what are all the other members supposed to do?
  3. This term refers to a war between two states.
  4. This term refers to a war between a country and an armed rebel group..
  5. How many military conflicts are going on in the world today?
  6. Are most of those conflicts interstate wars or insurgencies?
  7. Does the United Nations have jurisdiction over insurgencies? Explain.
  8. At its core, the United Nations is a _______________________________ arangement.