About the Meeting
In 1987 the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) was established in order to revive UN studies. Research and teaching were in the doldrums. Neither the United Nations in particular, nor multilateralism in general, were central to the concerns of faculty, students, or policy-makers. Especially in the United States, UN-bashing was popular while serious scholarly studies of the organization and the policies, processes and institutions surrounding it were few and limited in scope.Since that time, the agenda of world politics and the world organization – and the associated range of approaches, assumptions, issues and values included in the study of the UN system and contemporary multilateralism – have expanded dramatically. Set within this context, the theme of the 25th anniversary ACUNS Annual Meeting will be continuity and change – in the UN system, in related multilateral institutions, actors and forms of agency engaged in attempting to manage the overloaded agenda of contemporary multilateralism(s), and in scholarly and policy-oriented understandings of the field.

To what extent is the United Nations today equipped to help address and solve current as well as emerging future global challenges? What are the durable features and ‘truths’ of the UN system, versus the proposed adaptations and anachronisms that have failed? Would, and should, the Charter’s framers be pleased or disappointed by subsequent adaptations? What about ACUNS’ founding mothers and fathers – to what extent would (do) they recognize and appreciate the field of scholarship and practice today, given their critical role in supporting, sustaining and promoting excellence and innovation in UN studies and in UN practice a quarter of a century ago?

As the Academic Council on the United Nations System celebrates its 25th anniversary, our members and interested colleagues – scholars and practitioners of all kinds with an interest in the United Nations, multilateral institutions and global governance – will have a wide and challenging agenda to consider at the 2012 Annual Meeting.

Hans Corell 125Keynote Speaker: Dr. Robert C. Orr

Dr. Robert C. Orr serves as UMD School of Public Policy dean, United Nations under secretary-general, and special advisor to the UN secretary-general on climate change. Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Orr served as the assistant secretary-general for strategic planning in the Executive Office of the United Nations secretary-general from 2004 to 2014, and was the principal advisor to the secretary-general on counter-terrorism, peace building, women’s and children’s health, sustainable energy, food and nutrition, institutional innovation, public-private partnership and climate change. Orr joined the United Nations from Harvard University where he served as the executive director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government. Prior to this, he served as director of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. He has served in senior posts in the government of the United States, including deputy to the United States ambassador to the United Nations and director of global affairs at the National Security Council, where he was responsible for peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs.

Keynote Address


Hans Corell 125

John Holmes Lecture – Thomas Weiss
Presidential Professor of Political Science
He is a Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University, where he previously served as Director of the Terry Sanford Institute (now Sanford School) of Public Policy. He is a leading scholar of American foreign policy and has served in a number of U.S. policy and political positions. In 2015-16 he was the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress. He also served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore in his 2000 presidential campaign, in the Clinton administration State Department (1993-94), and as a foreign policy aide to Senators Gore (1987-88) and Dave Durenberger (1978-79). He also has served on a number of policy commissions, most recently the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Working Group co-chaired by Madeleine Albright (2011-13).