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4 Nw. Univ. J. Int'l Hum. Rts. 1 (2005-2006)


The conference on Reforming the United Nations: The use of force to safeguard international security and human rights, co-sponsored by Northwestern University School of Law and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Faculty of Law as their Fourth Annual Transatlantic Dialogue, was held in January 2005.

Its timing was propitious. It was held one month after publication of the report of the prestigious and geographically diverse High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Among many other proposals to reform the UN, the High-Level Panel recommended expansion of the Security Council, new guidelines for use of force and for collective intervention in human rights crises, a new consensus against terrorism, and replacement of the discredited UN Human Rights Commission by a new Human Rights Council.

If the ten months since the conference reveal the elusiveness of comprehensive reform, they also show the possibilities for gradual, piecemeal improvement. The recommendations of the High-Level Panel were largely adopted by the Secretary-General in his report of March 2005. Nonetheless several key Panel recommendations failed to win full support at the September 2005 World Summit of heads of state and government. Even so, most of the Panel's main recommendations are still in play, and may yet be adopted, at least in part.

Much of the Summit Outcome document addresses development issues, which were not the subject of our conference. The following is a summary of results to date on five core issues involving security and human rights.


Reprinted with permission of Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights.



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