WATERLOO, ON - Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, will deliver one of three keynote talks at the first international conference on United Nations reform since Secretary-General Kofi Annan tabled a report, entitled In Larger Freedom, on the issue last week.

Human Rights Watch has greeted the Secretary-General’s report positively (please see http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/03/21/global10354.htm for more information).

Roth is among several dignitaries attending the conference, entitled The UN: Adapting to the 21st Century, convened by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) and Wilfrid Laurier University. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, former Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy and a host of senior UN staff, current and former ambassadors, scholars and members of civil society will attend the conference in Waterloo on April 3 to 5.

“History leaves no doubt that the Secretary-General’s report will not just sell itself,” says Paul Heinbecker, senior distinguished fellow at CIGI and director of Laurier’s Centre for Global Relations, Governance and Policy. “It is indispensable that governments come together to endorse those proposals that will produce a more effective UN.”

Though the bulk of the proceedings will be held in camera, Madame Fréchette will launch the conference with a public lecture at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 3, at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Madame Fréchette will take questions from the media afterwards. Members of the media are also invited to attend a luncheon address by Mr. Axworthy and Mr. Roth’s dinner address, both at Laurier on Monday.

Mr. Jean Ping, president of the UN General Assembly, and Lord David Hannay, a member of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, are among those who will participate in the closed sessions. Bruce Jones and John MacArthur are other major Canadian contributors who will be attending the conference. Jeffrey Sachs, special advisor to the Secretary-General, will address the conference by video.

The conference will cover the following topics:

  • Discussing the High Level Panel and the Millennium Project Reports
  • The Secretary-General’s Report: From Ideas to Action
  • Rebuilding the Security Council: Reconciling Equity and Effectiveness
  • Freedom from Want: Embracing the Reciprocal Dynamic of Development and Security
  • Rule of Law: Reconciling Power and Principle
  • Freedom from Fear
  • Peace and Security: Making Collective Security Work for Everyone in a World of New Threats and Enduring Dangers
  • Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

CIGI is a Canadian-based international research institution established to research and advise on reform of the system of multilateral governance. For more information, please visit www.cigionline.org.

ACUNS is an international association of scholars, teachers, practitioners and others who are active in the work and study of the United Nations system and international organizations in general. It changes home institutions every five years and moved from Yale University to Laurier in 2003. Wilfrid Laurier University provides undergraduate and graduate education and research opportunities to 10,000 students. To learn more about ACUNS-WLU or Laurier, please visit www.acuns.wlu.ca/about and www.wlu.ca respectively.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.