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 which led to ACUNS’s establishment.

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 ACUNS: “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 inaugural 1988 lecture, likewise entitled Looking Backwards and Forward, was prepared by John W. Holmes as the keynote address at the opening session of the first ACUNS Annual Meeting held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) on June 23, 1988. Because of illness, Mr. Holmes was not able to be present and his address 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 provide a copy of their lectures as published in the ACUNS journal, Global Governance.

Past John W. Holmes Memorial Lectures

2022: The Future of Peace and the United Nations*
Lise Grande | United States Institute of Peace

Video Recording
*Publication forthcoming

2021: Is a Green UN the Answer to Its Current Blues?
Mark Malloch Brown | Open Society Foundations

Video Recording

2020: The UN @75: The Future of Partnership and Multilateralism
Gro Harlem Brundtland | Former Prime Minister of Norway

2019: Social Justice Transcending Inequalities
Thuli Madonsela | University of Stellenbosch

2018: “We the Peoples”: Reclaiming an Ethic of Solidarity
Lorraine Elliott | Australian National University

2011: Multilateralism in a Copernican World
Bruce W. Jentleson

2010: What Price Security?
Margaret Joan Anstee

2007: Can the UN Be Reformed?
Mark Malloch Brown

2006: Building Peace
Michael W. Doyle

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

1999: Untitled
Edwin M. Smith

1997: The Imperative of Idealism
James S. Sutterlin

1995: The Ethics of Globalism
Donald J. Puchala

1989: New Frontiers of Multilateralism
J. Alan Beesley