Summer Workshop in International Organization Studies
“UN System Reform After the Summit: Progress and Limitations?”

July 25 – August 5, 2006
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Download the Call for Applicants 

Program Structure
The Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) and the American Society of International Law (ASIL) are pleased to support the sixteenth ACUNS-ASIL Summer Workshop on International Organization Studies.  Contingent upon funding, the workshop will run from 25 July-5 August 2006, at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

The workshop is intended to foster excellence in emerging scholars and practitioners who are at a relatively early stage in their careers.  Therefore it is designed specifically for junior professors in international relations and international law faculties, post-doctoral and advanced doctoral level students, young lawyers and practitioners from civil society groups, policy staff from international organizations, human rights and development advocates, and others at similar early stages of their professional careers.

The purposes of the workshop are, first, to encourage new directions and new ideas in the analysis of international organization(s) and related legal studies; second, to establish and strengthen contacts between international relations and legal scholars and the United Nations practitioners; and third, to stimulate advanced research and teaching in the specific workshop subject matter.

The academic program of the workshop will be led by the co-directors, who have specific expertise as academics and/or practitioners in the fields of international politics and international law.  Each workshop participant selected will be assigned to one co-director, and will develop their research project with her/his guidance.

Program Themes
As expressed in the Draft Outcome Document, the September 2005 UN summit of world leaders was intended to reach an agreement that would “enhance the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and credibility of the UN system.”  Facing crises over Iraq – the US-led invasion, as well as the Oil-for-Food scandal – and a wide range of criticisms from friends and supporters as well as ardent opponents of the organization, and set against the background of the recommendations of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had made his own case for sweeping UN reform in his 2005 report, In Larger Freedom. The September summit became for many observers, the first real opportunity to review and revise the structure, operations and even the mandate of the United Nations since the signing of the Charter sixty years previously.

Four main areas of potential reform were identified for the summit: development, peace and collective security, human rights and the rule of law, and the strengthening of the United Nations.  Predictions and expectations alike were high, though in both directions – some feared possible ‘a train wreck’ with the failure of the summit to reach agreement on any significant issues and the splintering of interests and opinions, while others believed that major institutional and operational reform could be accomplished or, at least, begun in New York.  Writing shortly after the conclusion of the summit, Secretary-General Annan observed that he had set the bar deliberately very high in the run up to the summit because “in international, negotiations you never get everything that you ask”, but he also noted regarding those early reports emphasizing the limits of the final summit agreement, that “many of their judgments are being revised, or at least nuanced.”

The workshop will examine, with the benefit of some additional hindsight, the extent to which the 2005 world summit met, or failed to meet, the goals laid out for it –  and the expectations that surround these goals – by the UN Secretary-General, members states, other expert panels, and civil society. Specific issues and topics that might be addressed include Security Council reform; new institutional initiatives in human rights and in peace building; commitments to fighting terrorism, supporting nonproliferation, promoting development and trade liberalization; the protection of populations faced with threats of harm; and improved internal United Nations management practices and policies.  On which of these issues has there been some demonstrable progress, and on which has there remained stalemate or failure – and why?  How do these successes, failures or stalemates affect the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and credibility of the UN and the UN system?  What specific measures have been taken to implement or to follow-up on reform measures, and what has been learned (or not), subsequent to the summit?

Workshop participants will be encouraged to examine political, legal, organizational and institutional, economic, social and other relevant dimensions or approaches to these issues.  The United Nations and the wider UN system of multilateral institutions can be considered. Research papers can attempt to offer forward-looking ideas on how successes can be enhanced, or failures and deficits constructively managed.

Workshop participants will be selected by an ACUNS/ASIL review committee. Those selected will be expected to submit a ten-page draft of a research or policy paper to their assigned co-director in advance of the workshop.  The paper must be original work prepared for the workshop, not material that the participant has undertaken for other projects or presentations.

The co-directors will make suggestions about additional readings, data or arguments in order for the participants to bring a more polished version of their paper to the workshop, to be distributed in advance of their presentations. Participants are responsible for providing copies of the paper. Participants also will submit to the ACUNS Secretariat in advance of the workshop, a 2-page abstract of their paper, and will be required to make an oral presentation during the workshop. The working language of the workshop is English. It is hoped that the workshop will provide valuable guidance in the final development of a dissertation, publication or policy piece.