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quarterly Newsletter issue 3 > 2015

Peacekeeping pivot?

exploring a more flexible approach to dealing with conflicts

special feature

balancing law and politics: vetting in Transitional societies

Present, and Reporting, at the Creation of the UN

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Q > contents quarterly

feature one

peacekeeping pivot? Exploring a more flexible approach to dealing with conflicts

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John Karlsrud | Senior Research Fellow and Manager of the Training for Peace programme at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

special feature

Balancing law and Politics: Vetting in Transitional Societies Lessons from MENA | 5 Leila Nicolas | Professor, International Affairs, Lebanese University

feature two

Present, and reporting, at the creation of the un | 7 Leon Gordenker | Professor Emeritus of Politics, Princeton University and founding member of ACUNS

AM16 details and updates

meeting the challenges of human development and dignity 2016 acuns annual meeting

Thursday – Saturday > June 16-18, 2016 Fordham University, New York City

welcome to acuns

starting point

up2date news & opinions

From One Success to Another secretariat staff

Fresh on the heels of the AM15, we’re extending our outreach efforts even further by uploading videos and papers to our website and library, welcoming fresh ideas from ACUNS’ new Chair, and preparing for the ACUNS/ASIL Workshop.

Alistair Edgar

Dr. Alistair Edgar, ACUNS

Executive Director, ACUNS Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

It is mid-July as I write this, at a time in previous years when we would be in the midst of the Summer Workshop. This year, however, the 2015 ACUNS/ASIL Workshop will take place in late October in Oslo, hosted by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (and next year, in September hosted at O.P. Jindal Global University, India). As a result, we are enjoying a quiet summer at the secretariat office after the conclusion of the Annual Meeting, which gives us the opportunity to plan ahead, as well as catch up on writing. As ACUNS members will know, we have a new Chair starting her three-year term: Professor Lorraine Elliott, of Australian National University, took over the role from Dr. Abiodun Williams, who will continue to serve on the Board for two more years as Past Chair. While we will continue to provide the core programming that we already have on our annual agenda, Lorraine brings different interests and new ideas, and we will ‘roll out’ some of these over the next three to six months. The secretariat also will be busy with outreach efforts as we focus attention on the Call for a new host institution/secretariat for 2018-23. We do have several inquiries and discussions in early stages now, and hope to have more – you can find the Call on the website homepage, and at Looking back to the AM15, the consensus was that we had a very successful event with high-quality speakers in all of the keynote and plenary roles. The texts of the opening keynote delivered by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and the John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture given by Abiodun Williams, are available on our website. Video of these and the plenaries will also be uploaded, shortly. We have received a number of papers and presentations from workshop presenters, and will be pleased to receive any more to upload to our AM15 library. Sending us your paper remains a great way to highlight and share your ideas, and perhaps also to receive additional feedback from members and others who were not able to attend the AM15. As a result of low attendance at several of the Saturday morning workshop panels, we’ve taken into consideration your feedback and have decided that moving forward for the AM16 timing adjustments will be made, and perhaps some different approaches (contingent upon available funding). We will also be taking a more active approach to encouraging attendees to come out to the workshops and support colleagues. For those of us who may have sat on panels at conferences before where little or no audience has been present, and can relate to the disappointment after having spent time and energy in preparing presentations, we intend to encourage a more robust and dynamic audience. Issue 3 of our Newsletter features articles by John Karlsrud of NUPI, Leila Nicholas of Lebanese University in Beirut, and Lee Gordenker, one of ACUNS’ founders and Professor Emeritus of Princeton University. John continues our series looking at the UN’s review of its peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations and architecture; Leila provides a critical take on the concept of ‘vetting’ in transitional societies, with a focus on lessons from the MENA region(s); and Lee provides a fascinating personal reflection on his experiences as a reporter dealing with the foundation of the United Nations and the choice of the UN Secretariat headquarters in 1945. Last but not least – and on the theme of ACUNS’ founders and early members – I had the pleasure and privilege last month of traveling to the Universidad del Mar Huatulco, in Oaxaca State, Mexico, to speak at one of their series of events marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. My host there was Rector Dr. Modesto Seara Vazquez, who (like Lee Gordenker) has been associated with ACUNS since its earliest years. I very much enjoyed visiting the beautiful campus, speaking with the excellent faculty and staff – thanks especially to Dr. Alberto Lozano, and to Ms. Maria Fernanda Medina Beltran – and engaging in discussions with the students, as well as the other presenters from the United Nations and from Al Jazeera. It was a wonderful event, and an opportunity to re-connect with some of Mexico’s talented scholars of the UN, international affairs and global governance.

T > 226.772.3167 E >

Brenda Burns, Co-ordinator T > 226.772.3142 F > 226.772.0016 E >

Denoja Kankesan, Administrative Assistant T > 226.772.3121 E >

Board members 2015-2016

ACUNS is governed by an international Board of Directors:

Chair: Lorraine Elliott Australian National University

Past Chair: Abiodun Williams The Hague Institute for Global Justice

Vice Chairs: Roger Coate Georgia College and State University Margaret Karns University of Dayton

members Thomas Biersteker Graduate Institute, Geneva Stephen Browne Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Graduate Center Eunsook Chung Sejong Institute Cristián Gimenez Corte Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations Mary Farrell University of Plymouth Francesco Mancini International Peace Institute Nanette Svenson Tulane University

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peacekeeping pivot? Feature story > john Karlsrud senior research fellow and manager of the training for Peace program, Norwegian institute of international Affairs (NUPI)

exploring a more flexible approach to dealing with

conflicts 3


feature one


Wo rld at War

A record number of 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced in 2014. The UNHCR global trends report for 2014 was tellingly titled “The World at War” and paints a bleak picture with a four-fold increase of people forced to leave their homes due to conflict during the last four years. While the number of conflicts had been steadily declining for more than a decade, the last few years have witnessed a wave of new conflicts, and old ones have rekindled. South Sudan, the last member of the UN, has been plunged into chaos and the peacekeeping mission UNMISS is struggling to protect those sheltering within their own camps, with little ability to reach the hundreds of thousands of civilians in danger outside, in a civil war that has only increased in brutality and abuse during the last few months.

a political strategy should guide a more flexible approach to the un toolbox for dealing with conflicts, instead of a “binary choice” between special political missions and peacekeeping operations.

on the ground, the UN is raising walls to protect themselves from ‘asymmetric threats’ and driving white SUVs – continuing to distance itself from the people they serve.

Fro m crossfires to cro sshairs At UN Headquarters staff half-jokingly say that the organization has moved from being in crossfires to crosshairs, attacked no longer for where they are, but who they are. The increasing attacks on UN peacekeepers in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali testify to this impression. Concurrently, the UN is accused of not doing enough to protect civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR), DRC and South Sudan. The Secretary-General has thus received much support for his appointment in November 2014 of a high level independent panel to review UN peacekeeping.

I t is p olitical – but ho w ? The central tenet of the high level panel report is that all conflicts are political, and a political strategy should guide a more flexible approach to the UN toolbox for dealing with conflicts, instead of a “binary choice” between special political missions and peacekeeping operations. The panel underscores the centrality of a political strategy when dealing with conflicts and urges member states to fund prevention, mediation and other political tools with assessed funding. Among many member states there is a pervasive sense that the world has turned a more dangerous place and the UN needs to face “21st Century challenges” and “asymmetrical threats” – euphemisms for increasing prevalence of terrorist groups with regional and global ambitions, often entangled with international organized crime and elites of fragile countries. The US is pushing for increased participation in UN peacekeeping by western member states, contributing with

their experience from Afghanistan. During the last year they have arranged a summit on peacekeeping during the UN General Assembly in 2014, chaired by Vice President Biden and four regional meetings in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. This will culminate with a peacekeeping summit on 28 September 2015 during this year’s General Assembly, to be chaired by President Obama. The US also emphasize the political dimension, but at a different level. They want to see a new political compact between member states to reinvigorate financial support, but most importantly also greater troop and more advance capability support to UN peacekeeping.

People-centered peace keeping The panel report opened and ended with a story about Nyakhat Pal, a three year old girl in South Sudan who got support from a UN base in Pagak, Upper Nile State after a four hour walk with her blind father. With the story, the panel urges for a more people-centered approach where UN peacekeeping missions are listening to the needs and perceptions of local populations. However, on the ground, the UN is raising walls to protect themselves from ‘asymmetric threats’ and driving white SUVs – continuing to distance itself from the people they serve. There is a need to cultivate a culture shift in the way the UN approaches the local population and communicate what it does and for what purpose, using new technologies. While making clear the limits of its mandate and capabilities, missions should communicate the political ends of their and the UN country team presence – supporting the development of inclusive, representative and legitimate governments that can ensure lasting peace. Continued on page 9 >

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At the stroke of a pen in May 2003, more than 400,000 conscripts, officials, officers and others were dismissed. Two million Iraqi citizens suddenly started a new life of poverty and desperation.

balancing law and politics:

vetting in transitional societies lessons from MENA


Middle East and North Africa region

> leila nicolas

Vetting, purges and lustration are transitional justice tools often used to deal with post-authoritarian and post-conflict transitions. Most basically, Vetting measures usually involve the screening of individuals employed in public institutions, in order to verify that personnel have the integrity and capacity to fulfill their positions in a way that supports the goals of the new regime.[i] theoretically, advocates of Vetting measures claim that these are necessary and useful to establish a break with the authoritarian past, thus providing constructive opportunities for state rebuilding. The United Nations suggests that public sector employees who are personally responsible for gross violations of human rights or serious crimes under international law have revealed a basic lack of integrity and breached the trust of the citizens they were meant to serve. Vetting processes therefore aim at excluding from public service such persons with serious integrity deficits, in order to (re)establish civic trust and (re)legitimize public institutions.[ii] Authors on transitional justice claim that Vetting public office holders and bureaucrats could demonstrate a commitment by the new regime to trust-building, by holding people accountable for past wrongdoings, preventing future abuses by breaking cultures of impunity, and by breaking down informal networks and removing opportunities for the abuse of privileges that might linger from the previous system. Others claim that Vetting can improve the trustworthiness and functionality of the new state institutions, reduce corruption, support reconciliation, and support the process of democratization.[iii] •••

that what destroyed Iraq after Saddam Hussein was not the trials of Saddam Hussein and other Baathist officials, but instead, the vetting process or the procedures of de-Baathification following the US-led military victory. Reports from Iraq reveal that the vetting process was counterproductive and biased, and was directly involved in fueling terrorism – mainly what we now know as ISIS – through the intensification of hatred, fanaticism and sectarian divisions. Transitional justice in general was seen as victor’s justice, hence reviving the bloody Sunni-Shiite conflict in the region. The process of de-Baathification targeted Iraqi military and civil servants for their membership in, or their affiliation with, the Baathist regime, rather than for their responsibility for the violation of human rights or their record in crimes against Shiite and Kurdish groups or even in corruption. The process led to the dismissal of hundreds of thousands of individuals based on their membership in the Baath party. It undermined very badly the Iraqi State governing apparatus and security structures, and fueled a sense of bitterness, grievance and anger among the dismissed employees and their families. The widespread feeling of injustice, caused by loss of personal and family income, and general ecomonic collapse, in turn fueled sectarian rage and led to the destruction of Iraq.

However, the aforementioned theoretical claims about vetting tools can be easily challenged in the MENA region. It is not an exaggeration to say

Statistics of vetting records in Iraq show that: The Iraqi civil service members prior to the fall of Hussein’s regime ranged from 900,000 to more

[i] United Nations, Rule-of-Law Tools for Post-Conflict States:

[iii] Pablo de Greiff, P. 2007. ‘Vetting and Transitional

Vetting: An Operational Handbook (United Nations 2006).

Justice,’ in A. Mayer-Rieckh and P. de Greiff, eds. Justice as Prevention. New York: ICTJ and Social Science Research Council: 522-544;

[ii] United Nations. 2006. Rule of Law Tools for Post-Conflict States: Vetting: An Operational Framework. Office of the UN High Commission on Human Rights. New York, United Nations HR/PUB/06/5.


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Mayer-Rieckh, A. and de Greiff, P., eds. 2007. Justice as Prevention: Vetting Public Employees in Transitional Societies. New York: ICTJ and Social Science Research Council.

professor, International affairs, Lebanese university

than a million, not counting the military. At the stroke of a pen in May 2003, more than 400,000 conscripts, officials, officers, and others were dismissed. Supposing that each employer has five dependant family members – which is very natural in MENA – this means that around two million Iraqi citizens suddenly started a new life of poverty and desperation. Despite signs of the impending social catastrophe, the de-Baathification process accelerated strongly at the end of 2003 and into the first months of 2004. Hundreds of thousands of state employers had been dismissed, but few had received pension payments or had their appeals heard. The Iraqi Ministry of Education, for example, had 18,064 senior party members as professors, teachers and staff. Due to the vetting process, 16,149 of these employees were dismissed by June 2004 and an additional 1,355 were removed over the next 16 months. Only 400 employers were not subject to vetting because they were very low ranking baathists. A bitter sense of injustice led the secular ex-Baathists to adopt radical Islamic ideologies, and initiate the “Naqshbandi Army” which was formed from former Baathist officials and retired military generals, led by Saddam Hussein’s former assistant Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. The Naqshbandi Army has helped ISIS to win most of its important victories in Iraq – mainly the capture of Mosul – and gave the terrorist movement a wide local support in Iraq.

Mayer-Rieckh, A. 2007. ‘On Preventing Abuse: Vetting and Other Transitional Reforms,’ in A. Mayer-Rieckh and P. de Greiff, eds. Justice as Prevention. New York: ICTJ and Social Science Research Council: 482-521.

Continued on next page >

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member publications

Reports from Iraq reveal that the vetting process was counterproductive and biased and was directly involved in fuelling terrorism ...through the intensification of hatred, fanaticism and sectarian divisions.

An Unfinished Foundation: The United Nations and Global Environmental Governance Ken Conca | Oxford University Press

Consequently, the transitional experience in Iraq shows that there is no strong and clear positive link between transitional justice and democratization. TJ policies as undertaken by the provisional administration instead turned post-Saddam Iraq into a failed state which – until now – couldn’t reach democracy, and instead has been embroiled in worsening crises. The notion of Vetting in transitional societies needs more systematic analysis and fact-based conclusions rather than faith-based claims.

This book examines the origins, effectiveness, and limitations of the United Nations system’s approach to global environmental governance. The UN Charter mandates the global organization to seek four noble aspirations: international peace and security, rule of law among nations, human rights for all people, and social progress through development. On environmental issues, however, the UN has understood its charge much more narrowly. It works for “better law between nations” and “better development within them” while treating peace, security, and human rights as unrelated to the world’s environmental problems. A performance assessment of this selective approach shows that, despite some important gains, it is failing for some of world’s most pressing and contentious environmental challenges, and has lost most of the political momentum it once enjoyed.

The Human Right to Citizenship: A Slippery Concept Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann (Editor), Margaret Walton-Roberts (Editor) | University of Pennsylvania Press

Lessons Learned

In principle, no human individual should be rendered stateless: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that the right to have or change citizenship cannot be denied. In practice, the legal claim of citizenship is a slippery concept that can be manipulated to serve state interests. On a spectrum from those who enjoy the legal and social benefits of citizenship to those whose right to nationality is outright refused, people with many kinds of status live in various degrees of precariousness within states that cannot or will not protect them. These include documented and undocumented migrants as well as conventional refugees and asylum seekers living in various degrees of uncertainty. Vulnerable populations such as ethnic minorities and women and children may find that de jure citizenship rights are undermined by de facto restrictions on their access, mobility, or security.

If any important lessons can be drawn from the Iraqi experience of Vetting to the Syrian or the other Arab Spring states, the four key lessons would be: lesson 1 Exactly the same in both Syria and Iraq; membership in the Baath party was the standard requirement for state employment, for all individuals. Therefore, the first and most important lesson for Syria: Don’t purge or lustrate! lesson 2 Any Vetting process should be by far the most minimal, and should be applied only on security apparatus and high-ranking officials based on clear evidence of their direct record of engagement in and responsibility for human rights abuses. lesson 3 International organizations and donors should NEVER encourage a blanket policy of Vetting. Lustration, purge, vetting ... whatever you name it, is a normal abuse behavior in MENA region. It is a part of the ordinary practices of clientelism and exercising power. Some examples: In Egypt after Mubarak: One of the main reasons that overthrew Morsi was the vetting process, or what the Egyptians call “Brotherizing the State”... In less than 8 months, Muslim Brotherhood (MB) rule removed 13,000 state employees (naming them foulol – which means the “remains”, in English) and substituted them by MBs.

* Leila Nicolas serves as both a scholar and practitioner. She is Professor of International Affairs in the Lebanese University in Beirut. Her research and teaching interests include the UN system, R2p, transitional justice, peacebuilding, international criminal tribunals, and MENA politics.

issue 3

International Responses to Mass Atrocities in Africa: Responsibility to Protect, Prosecute, and Palliate Since the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations, genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes—mass atrocities— have been explicitly illegal. When such crimes are committed, the international community has an obligation to respond: the human rights of the victims outweigh the sovereignty claims of states that engage in or allow such human rights violations. This obligation has come to be known as the responsibility to protect. Yet, parallel to this responsibility, two other related responsibilities have developed: to prosecute those responsible for the crimes, and to provide humanitarian relief to the victims—what the author calls the responsibility to palliate. Even though this rhetoric of protecting those in need is well used by the international community, its application in practice has been erratic at best.

Lesson 4 Don’t mistake Vetting as a tool to eradicate corruption. Fighting corruption should be done through implementing Rule of Law in the “responsibility to rebuild,” but not through transitional justice Vetting processes.


The Human Right to Citizenship provides an accessible overview of citizenship regimes around the globe, focusing on empirical cases of denied or weakened legal rights. Exploring the legal and social implications of specific national contexts, contributors examine the status of labor migrants in the United States and Canada, the changing definition of citizenship in Nigeria, Germany, India, and Brazil, and the rights of ethnic groups including Palestinians, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Bangladeshi migrants to India, and Roma in Europe. Other chapters consider children’s rights to citizenship, multiple citizenships, and unwanted citizenships. With a broad geographical scope, this volume provides a wide-ranging theoretical and legal framework to understand the particular ambiguities, paradoxes, and evolutions of citizenship regimes in the twenty-first century.

Kurt Mills | University of Pennsylvania Press

In Lebanon: Vetting is a normal process practiced in every rotation of power. Every new minister dismisses those employees who were appointed by the previous minister, or at least, changes their status and marginalizes them in the administration ranking.

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In International Responses to Mass Atrocities in Africa, Kurt Mills develops a typology of responses to mass atrocities, investigates the limitations of these responses, and calls for such responses to be implemented in a more timely and thoughtful manner. Mills considers four cases of international responses to mass atrocities—in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Darfur—putting the cases into historical context and analyzing them according to the typology, showing how the responses interact. Although all are intended to address human suffering, they are very different types of actions and accomplish different things, over different timescales, on different orders of magnitude, and by very different types of actors. But the critical question is whether they accomplish their objectives in a mutually supportive way—and what the trade-offs in using one or more of these responses may be. By expanding the understanding of international responsibilities, Mills provides critical analysis of the possibilities for the international community to respond to humanitarian crises.

acuns . o r g 6

remembering, recapturing and recommitting

> leon gordenker professor emeritus of Politics, princeton university founding member of ACUNS

Feature story

present, and reporting, at the creation of the

The flood of international anniversaries this year stirred my memories connected with the siting of the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The summer of 1945 was a time of excitement, discovery and unremitting pressure. It began my association with the UN system and global governance.


feature two

change happens from the ground up

the press provided a preview of present day media frenzy.

that news mattered to a variety of publics who wanted it quickly and accurately.


y direct concern with the unmatched reorganization of international relations taking place in 1945 began in an obscure intergovernmental agency called the UN Information Organization (UNIO)1. The San Francisco Conference (UNCIO) would soon begin. Along with a senior colleague, as press officer I would use the skills of a working newsman (not a journalist – that luxurious title required owning more than one suit). We could answer questions, organize press conferences, prepare background stories to hand out, and supply pictures. Our aim was building acquaintance with postwar planning in the information media and broader publics. While the US government handled the public relations for UNCIO, our small office in Rockefeller Center took care of the news media demands in New York. With colleagues from several countries and a good library and picture collection, we also could help wire services and foreign correspondents. Although postwar planning had started early in the years of conflict, mass media hardly would sacrifice space for war news and local controversy to what might seem abstractions about a distant prospect. That attitude gave way to excitement with UNCIO, as a Preparatory Commission was established to meet in London. Sources in Washington and London reported talk in the Preparatory Commission and its Executive Committee about the proposed headquarters. The United States was a leading candidate as home for the new United Nations, but there was no sure winner. That was enough to keep UNIO busy. A sizable militia of local officials, real estate developers and pure speculators began to turn up in London and to direct questions to us in New York. When the Preparatory Commission recommended that the already welcoming United States should house the new United Nations, more journalists, radio reporters and magazine writers joined the lobbyists. The General Assembly met in London early in 1946, endorsed the United States as the headquarters site, and created a Headquarters Commission. Beyond that, an Inspection Group, representing nine member governments, was appointed to visit possible sites. Then UNIO became an important news source especially

after the General Assembly decided at its next session that the best place for a headquarters would be the New York area. My senior colleague and I were assigned to handle the news activity. That news mattered to a variety of publics who wanted it quickly and accurately. They often had clashing deadlines that created pressure. My chief and I were not really instructed as to policy. Beyond trying for accuracy and openness, we had to work with the chairman of the Inspection Group and the head of its temporary secretariat. UNCIO had operated in an open atmosphere. That was also a guide for us. One or both of us travelled with the Group to handle press contacts. The sites proposed by politicians, real estate sharks, well-meaning citizens, NGOs, publicity seekers and local governments had often floated on fantasy. North Dakota campaigners seriously proposed the Black Hills Park: aside from the isolated location, the symbolism of the four huge heads of former American presidents carved out of a dominating cliff could hardly be ignored. San Francisco was long a contender. Boston inspired a veto from the Soviet delegate when a local paper reported that a Roman Catholic priest had preached against the Communists that the UN would import. The rather ragged Atlantic City futilely proposed restoring its glory. Philadelphia remained a serious contender. So did a mansion-filled district near Greenwich, Connecticut; tranquil when I visited with a press group, it later rang with “not-in-my backyard” objections. The press provided a preview of present day media frenzy. Where the whole circus pitched its tents, the members of the Inspection Group had a chance to chat with reporters. The chairman, an experienced diplomat from Yugoslavia, usually was prepared to help along with interviews and statements that at least got into print. The capable Englishman who headed the secretariat was ready with advice. And at least my chief and I could count on that old maxim of American news: the visit of a circus gets publicity. Our hours of work had no limit. Meantime, developments built up around the headquarters issue. The General Assembly agreed with a Headquarters Commission recommendation that the site should be on the East Coast

1 For further information about UNIO and postwar planning, see Giles Scott-Smith, “The UN and public diplomacy: communicating the

Continued on page 9 >

post-national message” and J. Simon Rofe, “Prewar and wartime postwar planning: antecedents to the UN moment in San Francisco, 1945” in Dan Plesch and Thomas G. Weiss, Wartime Origins and the Future United Nations (London and New York, Routledge: 2015).

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peacekeeping pivot? exploring a more flexible approach to dealing with conflicts Continued from page 4 > This returns us to the political nature of UN peacekeeping. The panel urges for compacts being agreed between the Security Council and the host state at the outset of the missions, to make sure that there is real scope for change - to come to new settlements and new life opportunities for people living their everyday lives on the ground. The question is whether member states would support such a development.

Is a c onsensus p o ssible ? There is certainly agreement that something should be done, but as we have seen the direction is still not clear. The panel has drawn a red line against counter-terrorist operations, and advises the Security Council only to authorize conflict management and peace enforcement for limited durations, with a clear and achievable mandate, sufficiently resourced and linked to a political strategy (echoing the Brahimi-report). The recommendation of the panel to continue to build on the partnerships with regional organizations, and let these take on the more difficult jobs, makes a lot of sense. However, a fragile consensus not to take the UN across the Rubicon to engage in counter-terrorism operations may soon be challenged. The UN is the favorite option of last resort for dealing with crises that other actors won’t touch or won’t get funding to deal with. A premature deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission to Libya would be set up to fail, but should not be discounted. The renewed US and western engagement for UN peacekeeping is mostly very good news, but can be read as an overbearing father that softly tries to tell the idealists that the world has changed and the UN needs to change with it. The engagement can create momentum for reform and new material, financial and moral support from member states. However, this needs to be translated into operations that are fit for purpose, deployed to situations that it can succeed in and respond to the everyday needs of people on the ground, like Nyakhat Pal. * John Karlsrud is Senior Research Fellow at the Peace Operations Group at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) working on peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian issues. He has published peer-reviewed articles in, inter alia, Conflict, Security and Development; Disasters; Global Governance and Global Responsibility to Protect. He previously served as Special Assistant to the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Chad and has done research in Chad, Haiti, and South Sudan. His most recent publication is “The UN at war: examining the consequences of peace-enforcement mandates for the UN peacekeeping operations in the CAR, the DRC and Mali.”

present, and reporting, at the creation of the uN Continued from page 8 > of the United States. That led to the now well-known decision to accept an offer of support from the Rockefeller family to finance the present site on Turtle Bay in New York. Trygve Lie was elected Secretary-General. I watched him and his then personal assistant, Brian Urquhart, descend from a plane from London. Most UNIO personnel accepted positions in the new UN Department of Public Information. The Security Council met in a nondescript hotel in Manhattan. The General Assembly would open that autumn in a building left over from the 1939-40 World’s Fair. The growing functions of other UN councils as well as the Secretariat required more offices. I abandoned my desk in Manhattan for another at the bottom (now dry) of a swimming pool in a college gymnasium in the Bronx. Increasingly my work comprised of reporting meetings, writing press releases and helping to organize the process. The results served a populous press corps that since has nearly vanished. After another few months we moved again, this time to half of a bomb sight factory at Lake Success on Long Island. My connection with headquarters issues quickly declined as the architects overcame a controversial beginning and then the builders hurriedly constructed the buildings in Manhattan. Looking back, I understand that those busy months of organizational creation had mostly to do with hasty operations that usually were a mirror image of processing daily news. Yet the intellectual effects on me were telling. Studying the UN Charter introduced me to concepts of global policy. The aspirations that were set out in the elegant language of the Preamble and the broad, if somewhat more guarded, first chapter, were beacons of hope and political wisdom.

Then I first encountered international public law and observed how it served as a common language for diplomats. My grasp of the history of international politics had only inadequate support in the news that I had been editing. Only later did I learn how much the League of Nations served as a model for the UN; the concept of an International Civil Service is one example. An appetite for study was stimulated by my operational engagement. It offered me a glimpse of how a committed, disciplined staff could help sustain the new institutions. It showed me that cultural differences need not prevent collaboration and friendships. It demonstrated how member governments meddle and disregard their pledge “not to seek to influence” staff members and the Secretary-General in their duties. It illustrated how domestic politics could condition international cooperation. It underlay my decision in 1953 to leave the Secretariat and earn a PhD at Columbia University. Professors who took part in the creation of the UN System taught me scholarly perspectives. The memory of UNIO days faded in the light of other learning and research. Yet as a personal experience, it tinted the next decades. * Leon Gordenker, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University, helped plan ACUNS and get the fledging organization started in 1996. It linked to his deep interest in global international cooperation, partly based on his own experience even before the San Francisco Conference with what became the UN System. He was a member of the UN Secretariat from 1946 to 1952 after which he pursued an academic career.

Enjoy a good book? interested writing a review? In autumn 2012 ACUNS launched a project publishing online, peer-reviewed, book reviews on books relating to the study of the United Nations, international organization(s) and related topics in global governance.

f o r m o re inf o rmati o n : > If you are interested in writing a book review we would encourage you to consult

our Book Review Submission Guidelines. Please contact the book review Editor, Gwenith Cross at if you would like to review a recent publication that is not listed, or if you have any questions about your submission. New reviews are published fortnightly on our Book Reviews page. Due to the popularity of this project non-members are limited to writing one review per year and ACUNS members are limited to writing two reviews per year. ACUNS members are given priority on all new books.


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S i g n u p f o r o u r e > u p da t e b y b e c o m i n g a m e m b e r !


2016 Dissertation fellowship award call for applications research award

The ACUNS Dissertation Fellowship Award recognizes emerging students of extraordinary potential who have reached the stage of writing an advanced graduate-level dissertation on a topic of direct and demonstrable relevance to the United Nations and/or the UN System.

eligibility Eligible candidates may be citizens of any country and must be entering the writing stage of a Ph.D., J.S.D., or LL.M level degree – for example, a doctoral candidate who has defended her/his dissertation proposal and who has completed the majority of field research, and who now is writing a first draft of the dissertation. It is not intended for students who already have completed, or who are about to complete, the writing, or who are about to defend their thesis (NB for students working in a UK-context of doctoral studies, the Award relates to students who are in the beginning of their final year/year three of registration and are in the process of writing up). An important component of the Award for its winner is the recognition of excellence that this entails throughout ACUNS’ global community of scholars and practitioners. The Award also includes a monetary component in the amount of $1,500.00 US. In addition, the winner is encouraged to attend the ACUNS Annual Meeting in that same year, where she/he will be introduced and recognized as the Award winner. In that case, the winner will receive an Annual Meeting registration fee waiver (worth up to $150 of the registration fee) plus an additional award of up to $500 following the Meeting for the reimbursement of related travel and accommodations costs. The Dissertation Award winner is encouraged to consider submitting future written material to ACUNS’ journal, Global Governance. Use of any materials, however, will be at the discretion of the journal editorial team and the normal peer review process.

application information Applicants for the award should already be a student member of ACUNS. Information about joining ACUNS can be found at For applicants from the Global South whose financial status may preclude them from purchasing a membership, contact

Applications must be received in full by Thursday, January 14, 2016. Applications can be submitted online at

Questions? > Please contact the ACUNS Secretariat at or (1) 226.772.3121

The winner will be notified by March 31, 2016. Once the Award has been accepted, ACUNS will notify all other applicants of the final decision, and details of the winning applicant’s project will be posted on the ACUNS website.

A C U N S S ecretariat > Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 > T 226.772.3121 > F 226.772.3016

quarterly newsletter Issue 3 > 2015 Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) Quarterly Newsletter is published four times a year with the support of the Department of Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing (CPAM) at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Publisher: Alistair Edgar, Executive Director, ACUNS

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Wilfrid Laurier University 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3C5

Design: Dawn Wharnsby, CPAM

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A C U N S q uarterl y ne w sletter


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ACUNS Newsletter No. 3-2015  

Academic Council on the United Nations System quarterly newsletter.

ACUNS Newsletter No. 3-2015  

Academic Council on the United Nations System quarterly newsletter.