Toward a Fit for Future UN System
Global Virtual Event | 24-26 June 2021
The 2021 Annual Meeting will explore anew a series of themes critical to the UN’s relevance and legitimacy, one year after the world organization commemorated its 75th anniversary. Across the global landscape, many are calling for action to improve human security, dignity, social justice, global public health, protection of basic human rights, and multilateral cooperation. Despite many obstacles, we are entering an era of renewed commitments to a “Common Agenda” for multilateral engagement, heralding the promise of a UN system that is truly “fit for future.”
Opportunities abound to realize a future UN system that delivers on systemic change for the betterment of the human condition and global peace. Indeed, as the world organization prepares for its centennial in 2045, the demand has grown more urgent to chart new pathways, innovate and engage in future-oriented approaches to address and resolve the multiple and complex global challenges facing humanity today. The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now more than a half-decade in their realization. UN Secretary-General Guterres has recently released insights and proposals, based on his year-long Global Conversation with civil society, to the substantive themes comprising the UN75 political declaration. In September, he will present his Our Common Agenda recommendations, as mandated by the General Assembly. The challenges of advancing these mighty global goals and commitments have been greatly complicated by climate change, endemic poverty, global health pandemics, armed conflict, and state inaction.
In 2021, we ask: how can we make the UN system “fit for future,” and the UN itself “fit for purpose”? How can scholars, practitioners, science and technology experts, and community-based actors collaborate more fruitfully in devising integrative pathways that will result in growth and prosperity for all? How should these challenges be tackled, and by whom? In the face of nationalist populist social and political forces, how can we repair the economic, technological, and geostrategic fault lines and the growing bifurcated conflictual world order? As the Secretary-General has asked, what types of innovations would catapult individual donor and agency pursuits beyond the realm of narrow interests and toward aligned, collective action forged through common vision, analysis, implementation, and assessment? In what ways can beneficiary communities be integrated meaningfully into the strategic and field-level pursuit of development and dignity? How can and should the prevailing norms associated with sustainable human development, climate governance, and humanitarianism be infused throughout these endeavors?
PROPOSAL DEADLINE: Friday, 23 APRIL 2021
Call for Papers
For the 2021 Annual Meeting, ACUNS welcomes submissions from scholars, practitioners, and students whose research and work focus on the conference theme of “Toward a Fit for Future UN System.” Submissions may comprise proposals for complete panels involving groups of scholars, or individual papers. They may also constitute roundtables centered around a certain conference theme or recently published book. More information on these submission categories is available below. Proposals that focus on challenges falling under any of the following sub-issue areas are particularly welcome:
- Preserving and protecting the environment in the face of climate crises and degradation.
- Protecting and upholding of human rights across the globe.
- Lessening the humanitarian impact of conflict and other security threats, and advancing more durable forms of peace and sustainable post-conflict transitions.
- Equalizing access to basic services and support of poverty reduction and human dignity for the global good.
- Innovating to meet the challenges of today’s and tomorrow’s global health pandemics.
- Promoting zero discrimination and anti-racist/anti-bias in all areas of global governance and multilateralism.
- Enhancing digital cooperation, harnessing the benefits of new technology, and managing trade and intellectual property issues, all while mitigating risks.
- Changing demographics, including migration, displacement, integration, urban-rural pressures, addressing the challenges of the future of work, rising unemployment, and changing work environments.
Those interested in participating in the 2021 Annual Meeting are invited to submit proposals which fall under the following three categories:
Individuals can propose to present a research paper that is a work in progress. For the application, individuals must submit an abstract of 1500 characters maximum. The Annual Meeting Program Committee will work to form panels of 4 papers that address related topics.
Individuals can propose a fully-formed panel session which includes 4 papers, 1 discussant, and 1 chair. One individual who will be a part of the panel must submit all panel details, including a panel abstract describing the overarching theme uniting the papers that will be presented (1500 characters maximum). They will also need to provide the titles and abstracts of each paper, as well as information about each panelist. Panels cannot have more than 4 papers. All panelists must be in agreement that they will participate if the panel is selected. To ensure richness of exchange, ACUNS encourages applicants to consider diversity in all its forms when constituting panels, with particular attention to geographical and gender diversity.
Individuals can propose a fully-formed roundtable to discuss and debate certain conference themes or recently published books. Participants agree in advance on the topic that will be the focus of the session. One individual must submit a session title and abstract (1500 Characters maximum) as well as information about each participant. Roundtables may include a minimum of four and a maximum of six participants. All participants must be in agreement that they will participate if the panel is selected. To ensure richness of exchange, ACUNS encourages applicants to consider diversity in all its forms when constituting roundtables, with particular attention to geographical and gender diversity.
Panel or Roundtable Chair
Chairs are responsible for managing the discussions of panels and roundtables. For panels, their primary responsibility is to keep track of time and to manage the questions posed by audience members. For roundtables, their primary responsibility is to present the discussion theme and to facilitate the debate between panelists, as well as to manage the questions posed by audience members. Every panel and roundtable must have a chair.
Panel discussants are responsible for reading the papers submitted by paper authors and for providing them with feedback during the conference. Discussants should receive papers one week in advance of the panel date.
Authors present research papers that are works in progress during a panel. Presentations should be restricted to 10 minutes per author or group of co-authors. Authors are required to submit their paper to the designated panel discussant one week before the date of their presentation.
Participants on a roundtable are individuals invited to discuss a certain theme or recently published book.
The primary type of conference event is the paper panel. On a panel, four papers are presented by their authors, and a discussant provides feedback on each paper. Panels will last for 90 minutes. The presentation of each paper should last approximately 10 minutes, leaving enough time for the discussant to present feedback, and for audience questions and discussion.
These sessions represent discussions about a conference theme or a recently published book. Each roundtable includes one chair and a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 participants. Each participant is given 10 minutes to present their thoughts after the chair introduces the theme or book being discussed. The rest of the time is dedicated for discussion.
Plenary sessions are key moments in the conference when prominent scholars or practitioners are invited to speak to all conference participants. These sessions also last 90 minutes, and include time for speeches and audience questions.
John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture
Every year an eminent international thought leader is invited to give a lecture on a theme of their choice to all conference participants. More information on this lecture is provided on the dedicated page here.
The conference will be held from 24-26 June 2021.
Given the ongoing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 ACUNS Annual Meeting will be organized as a global all-virtual event. More information about the conference platform will be provided closer to the conference. In order to receive regular updates about the conference, please subscribe to receive the ACUNS Monthly Bulletin.
Application Procedure and Deadline
To participate in the 2021 Annual Meeting, please complete the application form by clicking on the button above. The deadline for completing your proposals is Friday, 23 April 2021. ACUNS anticipates notifying all applicants if their proposals have been accepted by 1 May 2021.
For any questions about the conference, please contact ACUNS by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participation in the conference will be FREE for all ACUNS members. You must become a member by 1 June 2021 in order to participate without charge.
There will be a $30 USD observer fee for non-members. If the indicated fee will represent a significant financial burden, please contact ACUNS by email at email@example.com.
You must be an ACUNS member to present a paper in a panel, participate as a speaker in a roundtable, or serve as a chair or discussant. Although the application form above is accessible to all, if your proposal is accepted you will need to become a member.