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23 May 2017
How the United Nations Beat Hitler and Prepared the Peace
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Time: 5:30 - 7:00 PM
Location: American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), 2101 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20037

Please join UNA-NCA on May 23rd as we welcome author and Professor Dan Plesch. Dr. Plesch will give remarks and answering questions from Nancy Donaldson, Director of the International Labor Organization’s Washington Office.

On 1 January 1942, Churchill and Roosevelt issued a 'Declaration by United Nations' with 24 other states. This marked the beginning of the UN in a real and tangible form. Yet today many people have forgotten that the UN was forged in the midst of the confusion and complexity of wartime. How did the armies of the United Nations co-operate in the final years of World War II to contain - and ultimately reverse - Nazi expansionism? And when and for what purpose did the UN undertake to tackle the international economic and social challenges, not only of warfare but of a post-war world transformed beyond recognition?

Bretton Woods and San Francisco were United Nations conferences, and interim United Nations organizations preceded the Charter. Understanding the wartime United Nations reframes our understanding of the second half of the last century and of our own. From UNESCO to the World Bank the primary purpose of the international system is conflict prevention and its wartime architects bequeathed us this system as a realist necessity vital in times of trial, not as a liberal accessory to be discarded when the going gets rough.

Drawing on previously unknown material from the UN archives, Dan Plesch analyses responses at all levels of society, from high level political elites to grass roots level. Arguing that the Allied defeat of Nazism should properly be called a United Nations victory, Dan Plesch has pieced together the full story of how the UN intervened in surprising ways at a pivotal time in European history. America, Hitler and the UN is an important addition to the literature of World War II.

Dan’s new book, Human Rights after Hitler reveals thousands of forgotten US and Allied war crimes prosecutions against Hitler and other Axis war criminals based on a popular movement for justice that stretched from Poland to the Pacific. These cases provide a great foundation for twenty-first-century human rights and accompany the achievements of the Nuremberg trials and postwar conventions. They include indictments of perpetrators of the Holocaust made while the death camps were still operating, which confounds the conventional wisdom that there was no official Allied response to the Holocaust at the time. This history also brings long overdue credit to the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC), which operated during and after World War II.


Dr. Dan Plesch, Director and Reader (Senior Associate Professor), Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London

Dr. Plesch has been engaged with US Foreign Policy, NATO and the UN since the 1980s. His most recent research concerns grand strategy for global peace and security rooted in the practical vision of the Allies during and after the Second World War. That is the foundations of the now seventy year global system that is now widely seen as under threat today. This work encompasses gender equalityhuman rights and war crimes and arms control and disarmament.

While Senior Fellow at the UK's Royal United Services Institute after 9/11 Plesch was an analyst for BBC, World TV and CNN International. From 1986-2000 Plesch was the founder in Washington DC of the British American Security Information Council engaging with a range of transatlantic security issues on projects for the Ford and MacArthur foundations amonst others and testifying to the US Congress and European Parliaments.

Plesch points our the irony that we may stumble into World War Three having discarded the lessons and institutions built at such great cost after 1918 and 1945; arguing that unilateral action can only ever be a short term solution in the modern world.

To register for the event, please click here.


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