DOI: 10.1111/1758-5899.13327 ISSN: 1758-5880

Reining in a liberal UN: China, power shifts, and the UN's peace and security pillar

Rosemary Foot


Has the deepening of China's involvement with the United Nations (UN) actually led to significant China‐related shifts in power at the UN over the last three decades? This article explores this question in relation to the UN's move in the post Cold War era into a period of greater normative ambition that made the protection of the individual central to its efforts to maintain international peace and security. Conceptually, the article utilizes and adapts the four power types put forward by Barnett and Duvall (2005). Empirically, it draws on some core elements of the UN's expanded liberal normative agenda relating to the security of the individual. The article explores Beijing's attempts to revise or reverse the UN's liberal turn, assessing the extent to which China has been able, in the process, to effect a power shift. It concludes that China has had some, but as yet limited, successes. However, Beijing seems set to continue to be associated with the various types of power discussed here to press its case.