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East Asian perceptions of the UN and its role in peace and security

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Sebastian von Einsiedel , Anthony Yazaki, 27 May 2016

With East Asia’s ascendancy in world politics, a key question arising for the future role of the United Nations (UN) in international peace and security is how the region relates to and engages with the organisation, whose relevance and legitimacy depends on the buy-in and support of key member states. In this context this report explores what factors shape East Asian countries’ views of the UN, and what drives their actual and potential investments in and contributions to the UN’s peace and security mechanisms. The report concludes that East Asian relations with the UN regarding peace and security matters are on a positive trajectory. Indeed, the region’s continued emphasis on the principle of non-interference in countries’ internal affairs masks an important recent evolution in East Asian views of sovereignty, multilateralism and the UN in particular. This is reflected, among other things, in the fact that over the past decade East Asian countries have been showing (1) an increasing appreciation of the UN as a forum through which they can pursue their interests; (2) a growing readiness to contribute to UN peacekeeping; (3) a progressive institutionalisation of UN-ASEAN secretariat-to-secretariat cooperation; (4) deepening cooperation in disaster response; and (5) a declining resistance to engaging in discussions at the UN relating to human rights and the Responsibility to Protect.