This article explores the working relationship between the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in mediating conflicts in West Africa and the Sahel regions. We argue that through the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the UN, ECOWAS and the AU are working on mediation efforts to transcend traditional conceptualizations of the relationship between the world body and regional organizations. We show that the partnership is grounded on the logic of subsidiarity, informality, elite networks, technical competence, soft skills, and robust social trust. For heuristic purposes, we call the six principles the Chambas Formula, with reference to the centrality of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and the emergence and consistent application of the principles in the mediation setting in West Africa and the Sahel regions.
This article examines UN–EU cooperation over peace mediation. It compares their conceptual approaches to peace mediation and the evolution of their institutional capacities, demonstrating that the EU has learned from the UN, while actively supporting the strengthening of UN mediation capacity. The most important difference concerns the embeddedness of mediation in a broader foreign policy agenda in the case of the EU compared to the UN. The article also examines models of EU–UN cooperation in mediation practice. Drawing on an overview of cases of UN–EU cooperation, the article develops a typology of the constellations through which the two organizations have engaged with and supported each other. A case study on the Geneva International Discussions on South Ossetia and Abkhazia investigates the effectiveness of this coordination. The findings point to a high degree of effectiveness, although this has not yet translated into tangible mediation outcomes.
Unrelenting animosity continues to define the relationship between the United States and North Korea, but in the mid-1980s, P’yŏngyang began to seek non-confrontational measures to fulfill one of its major diplomatic objectives—opening a channel of direct negotiation with Washington. The bodies of U.S. soldiers who had perished or gone missing in North Korea in 1950 during the Korean War became bargaining chips for the North Koreans. This article analyzes the political stakes of these remains for the two countries. It traces the meetings between Congressman Gillespie V. Montgomery and North Korean officials in 1989 and 1990, which led to the first return of U.S. soldiers’ remains since October 1954. North Korea’s insistence on delivering the remains to Montgomery, rather than the Korean War Military Armistice Commission, was an attempt to force the United States to acknowledge its legitimacy. Unable to abandon the bodies, U.S. officials offered limited concessions, while endeavoring to maintain the status quo in Korea. The 1990 remains repatriation revealed the possibility of cooperation between the two countries.
Japanese food first became the focus of serious attention in the United States during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), when Japan’s victory over the Russian empire signaled that nation’s arrival as a new world power. This newfound interest had nothing to do with gastronomy. The conviction driving it was that diet and preventative health care in the Japanese military, which had been critical to its unexpected success, could serve as models for the United States. Military doctors, home economists, dietitians, businesses, vegetarians, and physical fitness fans joined this discourse, each with their own agendas. Many participants were women whose advocacy linked the supposed innate feminine propensity for nurturing and care giving with a shared faith in science to solve the problems facing the modern world. All believed Japan’s rice, vegetable, and fish-based diet contributed to the exceptional physical strength and stamina of the Japanese people because, unlike their own, “it was plain, rational, and easily digested, metabolized and assimilated.” More enthusiasm than knowledge in their claims, but this mattered little since the goal was not to popularize Japanese culinary culture, but to reform U.S. eating habits. This article examines the American discourse on Japanese food and health and how it shaped and reflected domestic political, social, and economic priorities in the 20th Century’s first decade.
Most studies of U.S. cultural diplomacy focus on the ways that the United States has leveraged cultural events to achieve its own political ends. The present article takes a slightly different approach in its analysis of the 1954 Korean Children’s Choir (kcc) tour of the United States. Using copious documentary sources and interviews the author has conducted with former child choristers, it traces how Republic of Korea (rok) President Syngman Rhee used this high-profile cultural event to create a new opening to advance his goals in his complicated diplomatic relations with the United States. At the close of the Korean War, the rok was a war-ravaged nation with little power in dealing with its patron superpower. Deploying personal connections and propaganda skills that he had cultivated during decades of living in exile in the United States, Rhee orchestrated the kcc’s tour of the United States, and the visit helped Rhee gain new footing in negotiating the rok’s unequal partnership with the United States. This detailed socio-historical and musicological account shows how both President Rhee and the choristers were active and effective agents in striving to put the rok front and center in the imaginations of Americans and impress upon them its cultural gravitas and strategic importance.