John Holmes Lecture

ACUNS inaugurated the John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture Series in 1989 in honor of ACUNS founding member John W. Holmes. Mr. Holmes had served on the planning committee for the founding conference of ACUNS and the provisional committee in 1987-88.

John W. Holmes joined the Canadian Department of External Affairs in 1943 and participated in the planning of the United Nations. He attended the preparatory commission in 1945 and the first session of the General Assembly, and later served as head of UN Affairs in Ottawa and as Under-Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. In 1960, he left public service for a second career in teaching and scholarship, basing himself at the Canadian Institute of International Affairs and the University of Toronto.

Mr. Holmes brought to ACUNS a lifetime of experience and reflection on international politics and the role of the United Nations. He also brought a marvelous mix of idealism and realism, a mix that showed up clearly in the report, Looking Backwards and Forwards. In the conclusion, he spoke of the need for reexamining the role of the UN in a way that captures the basic purposes of the Academic Council. “It is an ideal time,” he said, “to launch in all our countries that renewed examination of past experience of the UN, to discover on what we can build and where not to venture, how we can use the growing threat to the globe itself to create the will for international self-discipline which is what international institutions are all about.”

The 1988 John Holmes Lecture, likewise entitled Looking Backwards and Forward (LINK TO PDF), was prepared by John W. Holmes for presentation as the keynote address at the opening session of the 1st ACUNS Annual Meeting held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on June 23, 1988. Because of illness, Mr. Holmes was not able to be present and his paper was read by John E. Trent.

Every year, the John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture is presented at the ACUNS Annual Meeting by a renowned scholar or practitioner of the UN and international affairs. Below we list the past honorees and the titles of their lecture. More information will be provided on past and future lectures shortly.

Past John W. Holmes Memorial Lectures

2020: Untitled
Gro Harlem Brundtland

2019: “Social Justice Transcending Inequalities”
Thuli Madonsela

2018: “We the Peoples: Reclaiming an Ethic of Solidarity”
Lorraine Elliott

2017: “A Pivotal Moment in Global Governance? Looking Back to Look Forward”
Margaret P. Karns

2016: “Security and Justice at a Crossroads: the Future of Global Governance”
Ibrahim Gambari

2015: “Can the UN Guarantee Security and Justice?”
Abiodun Williams

2014: “The Next Development Agenda: An Opportunity for Renewed Multilateralism”
Amina J. Mohammed

2013: “Representing the United Nations: Individual Actors, International Agency and Leadership”
Manuel Fröhlich

2012: “International Organizations at the Moving Public-Private Borderline”
Christer Jönsson

2011: “Multilateralism in a Copernican World”
Bruce W. Jentleson

2010: “What Price Security?”
Margaret Anstee

2009: “The International Civil Service Revisited”
Thomas G. Weiss

2008: “Growing the ‘Third UN’ for People-Centered Development: The United Nations, Civil Society and Beyond”
Roger Coate

2007: “Can the UN Be Reformed?”
Mark Malloch Brown

2006: “Building Peace”
Michael Doyle

2005: “Nuclear Weapons, Anomalies, and Global Governance”
Ramesh Thakur

2004: “Human Security and US Policy after 9/11”
Craig Murphy

2003: “The Use of Force under the UN Charter: Restrictions and Loopholes”
Nico Schrijver

2002: “The Role of the United Nations in Forming Global Norms”
Joe Sills

2001: “Global Governance and the Changing Face of International Law”
Charlotte Ku

2000: “Conflict Prevention and the Role of the United Nations”
Thorbjørn Jagland

1999: Unknown Title
Edwin M. Smith

1998: “Peacekeeping at Fifty: Looking Back, Looking Forward”
Louise Fréchette

1997: “The Imperative of Idealism”
James S. Sutterlin

1996: “Human Development: The World after Copenhagen”
Richard Jolly

1995: “The Ethics of Globalism”
Donald J. Puchala

1994: “The Evolving United Nations: Principles and Realities”
Johan Kaufmann

1993: “Differing State Perspectives on the United Nations in the Post-Cold War World”
James O. C. Jonah

1992: “Globalization, Multilateralism and Democracy”
Robert W. Cox

1991: “Can the United Nations System Meet the Challenges of the World Economy”
Victor L. Urquidi

1990: “Thinking about the United Nations System”
Leon Gordenker

1989: “New Frontiers of Multilateralism”
J. Alan Beesley

1988: “Looking Backwards and Forwards”
John W. Holmes