Joanna Harrington Wins National Award For Publication On UN Security Council

Paper tackles reform of the Council's working methods

Helen Metella - 31 January 2020

Professor Joanna Harrington has won a national award for a scholarly paper about reforming the way the UN Security Council makes decisions.

The first Scholarly Paper Award from the Canadian Council on International Law celebrates her paper, "The Working Methods of the United Nations Security Council: Maintaining the Implementation of Change."

Drawing on archival records and diplomatic papers, Harrington's paper examines the working methods of the United Nations Security Council, the world's most powerful intergovernmental body.

Harrington advocates incorporating global Administrative Law principles of transparency, consultation and engagement, and executive accountability into the practices of a highly political institution. She also argues for the principle of conflict prevention to serve as an additional guidepost, given the Council's role in maintaining international peace and security.

The selection committee called the paper an ideal recipient of this new award because "it constituted a systematic and careful scholarly inquiry into a doctrinal area, relying on primary research to offer new insights into the conduct of an international organization."

Says Harrington: "While the Security Council attracts a lot of legal analysis on the substance of its decisions, there was little written on how its procedures have evolved to become more transparent and consultative vis-à-vis both non-governmental actors and the wider UN membership."

Having served as a lawyer-diplomat for Canada at the United Nations, Harrington was familiar with some of the sources for finding the material she drew upon for her research.

Her research also touched upon the use of codes of conduct to limit the exercise of the veto when there are credible allegations of acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. And it covered the need to improve the selection process for the UN Secretary-General, with the past "She for SG" campaign having focused attention on the fact that no woman has ever served in the most senior UN post.

Harrington's article was published in the International & Comparative Law Quarterly, a leading International law journal, and has already attracted citation in a leading textbook on International Institutional Law.