UMass Boston Delegation Participates in the Academic Council of the United Nations System’s (ACUNS) Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the UN
June 16, 2015  //  By:   //  Blog Post, Featured  //  No Comment

From left to right: Wondwossen Wondemagegnehu, Prof. Maria Ivanova, Prof. Lorraine Elliott, Gabriela Bueno, Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy and Prof. Margaret Karns

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations. In 1945, delegates to the United Nations Conference on International Organization approved the Charter of the United Nations, which entered into force that October with the ultimate goal of promoting international cooperation. Since then, academics and practitioners have worked to study and execute the mandate of the organization, discuss key issues for its agenda and provide scenarios in which students and young professionals can be part of their activities.

One of the organizations committed to this process is the Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS). ACUNS is a professional association that brings together educational institutions, scholars and practitioners in the work and study of the United Nations, multilateral, relations, global governance and international cooperation. Every year, ACUNS holds an annual meeting to discuss UN and global governance related research and policy.

In 2015, the ACUNS Annual Meeting, held in The Hague, the Netherlands, commemorated the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. With the topic “The UN at 70 – Guaranteeing Security and Justice,” academics and practitioners discussed multiple topics relevant to the organization’s justice and security agendas and its institutional future. Specifically, the objective of the meeting was to engage in critical and informed discussions about the achievements and challenges of the United Nations system in developing and promoting ideas and practices of security and justice in global governance.

A UMass Boston faculty-student delegation had the opportunity to participate in this meeting. Associate Professor Maria Ivanova, Co-Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability, and PhD students Gabriela Bueno, Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy and Wondwossen Wondemagegnehu attended panels and workshops, and presented its own workshop panel entitled “Global Environmental Governance and the UN System: Rethinking Institutions.” In this panel, Prof. Ivanova presented the work of the Center for Governance and Sustainability and the connection of the PhD program in Global Governance and Human Security to the work of ACUNS, while students presented three papers related to the Center’s projects on Institutional Complexity, the Science-Policy interface and the Environmental Conventions Initiative. The Chair and Discussant of the panel were Prof. Lorraine Elliott and Prof. Margaret Karns, both affiliated faculty to the PhD program. Prof. Elliott is also the new chair of ACUNS and the interviewee of the latest Global Leadership Dialogues published by the Center for Governance and Sustainability. Prof. Ivanova was also chair and participant on the roundtable “High-Level Panels as a Tool of United Nations Secretary-General Leadership,” which discussed the role of these bodies in the UN agenda, particularly in relation to sustainable development and how they are connected to the office of the Secretary-General.

For the UMass Boston delegation this was an opportunity to learn more about the interactions between academia and the policy realm. “It is very interesting to see how academics and practitioners get together to provide new elements to the process of policy-making within the United Nations, specially in relation to environment and sustainable development that are the main areas of our research” said Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy one of the participating students. Gabriela Bueno noted that “The meeting confirmed how leadership is becoming a relevant topic in the intersection between academia and policy, which reinforces our own research agenda at the Center to look at the role of people in international organizations, in addition to studying norms and institutions.”

The delegation also had the opportunity to connect with other professors, students and institutions to discuss research agendas and methodological approaches. It also strengthened UMass Boston’s institutional linkages with ACUNS and other related programs in global governance, sustainability and human security. As Wondwossen Wondemagegnehu points out, “students in our PhD program need to have a feel of the practical world – to understand how far the academic readings mirror real world circumstances where actors are no longer hypothetical and where life is more complex than it really is in the books.”

The participation of the three students was possible thanks to the generous support of the UMass Boston Office of Global Programs, the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, the Department of Conflict Resolution, Global Governance and Human Security, and the Center for Governance and Sustainability.

About the Author :

Gabriela Bueno is a PhD student in Global Governance and Human Security at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and a research associate at the Center for Governance and Sustainability.

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