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Northwestern Law Center Awarded Special Status with UN Council

Consultative status to provide opportunities for students, faculty in public international law

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September 28, 2012 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

CHICAGO --- Northwestern University School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights (CIHR), headed by David Scheffer, director of the Center and Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law, has been awarded special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.   

Following a rigorous 15-month application process, this highly prized and selectively granted status confers upon the CIHR the right to designate special representatives to U.N. offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna, allowing faculty representatives to participate in events, conferences and activities of the U.N., including the U.N. Secretariat, U.N. programs, funds and agencies, ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, the U.N. General Assembly, U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. intergovernmental decision-making bodies.  

The Northwestern Law participation can take the form of mere attendance at U.N. organization meetings or, if it elects (and subject to U.N. requirements), oral presentations and written statements. 

According to Stephen Sawyer, clinical associate professor of law at Northwestern and the director of curricular projects for CIHR, the Law School plans to use its new special status vis a vis the United Nations and its constituent organizations for two broad purposes.

“First,” Sawyer said, “we believe the status will open up doors for our students to expand their knowledge and experience in the field of public international law through a direct exposure to the work of the multitude of organizations in the U.N. that are engaged day in and day out in the field. Second, given the expertise of the CIHR faculty in the field of public international law and the contributions many have already made to the public endeavors in the field, this is a fresh opportunity to play an activist role in advancing the political, civil, economic and social missions of the U.N. under the U.N. charter.”

ECOSOC is a principal organ of the United Nations under the 1945 U.N. Charter; it serves as a vital forum for focusing the attention of the world on a wide range of economic, social, environmental and cultural issues.