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The Global Multilateral System, the Role of the U.S., and Th

The Global Multilateral System, the Role of the U.S., and the Prospects for Addressing Today’s Greatest Challenges – Session 3 of the International Rule of Law Forum
Tuesday, December 7,  2021 | 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
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Program Fee:
Free for Members | $15 for Non-Members | Free for Non-Lawyers

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Since the end of World War II and the inception of the United Nations in 1945, the United States has been a leading proponent of the global multilateral system. Advocates of the global multilateral system believe the United States has furthered its interests by supporting a rules-based international order, while critics argue that the current multilateral system is ineffectual and is increasingly becoming co-opted by malign actors, most notably China. The United States, as well as other nations, have in recent years withdrawn and disengaged from multilateral institutions, which has undermined the multilateral system and the international rule of law.

This session of the International Rule of Law Forum will explore how the multilateral system and the United Nations advances the rule of law on the international stage, with a focus on how these institutions are developing international law to address the emerging global challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, global public health, and cyber threats. The current multilateral system has yet to effectively address these issues, so how can the multilateral system better facilitate the establishment of norms and rules to govern behavior and enhance cooperation on these emerging global challenges?

This session will analyze whether the United States can recommit to the multilateral system and how it can reconcile its historical rhetoric of supporting an international rules-based system with its conduct on the global stage, which has at times run contrary to this system and in contravention of international law. Does the United States intend to reassert itself as a leader in supporting the rule of law within international institutions and will the international community welcome the United States back to such a leadership role? How can the United States and other global powers enhance respect for and adherence to the international rule of law within the multilateral system to ensure it is better equipped to address the most pressing challenges facing the international community?
Ulysses Smith, 
ESG Senior Advisor, Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP


Clayton Cheney, Co-Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s United Nations Committee

Opening Remarks:
Richard Gowan
, UN Director, International Crisis Group

Sue Biniaz, United States Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
José Enrique Alvarez, Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law, New York University School of Law
The Honorable Hugh T. Dugan, Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for International Organization Affairs

Kristen Eichensehr, Director of the National Security Law Center, University of Virginia School of Law

Sponsoring Committees:
Rule of Law Task Force, Stephen L. Kass, Chair
Council on International Affairs, Mark A. Meyer, Chair

Co-Sponsoring Organization:
Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

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