Michael S. Greco President, American Bar Association

Michael S. Greco
President, American Bar Association
American Bar Association Day at the United Nations
Luncheon Remarks
United Nations Building
New York, New York
April 4, 2006
Thank you, Michael [Byowitz], for your gracious introduction, and for your
outstanding leadership as Chair of the ABA Section of International Law.
On behalf of the American Bar Association, I extend sincere thanks to Nicolas
Michel, Under-Secretary-General, Office of Legal Affairs, Legal Counsel of the United
Nations, for hosting us today and making available his fine staff for consultations with
ABA members.
The American Bar Association has a long-standing and productive relationship
with the United Nations, beginning in 1943 when ABA leader Reginald Heber Smith
organized a series of conferences of lawyers and legal scholars resulting in a report,
“International Law of the Future,” which contained many provisions that would later
appear in the Charter of the United Nations.
Since 1975, the ABA has adopted nearly eighty policy resolutions relating to the
work of the United Nations on human rights, the international economy, peacekeeping,
rights of women and minorities, and health, education, labor and environmental issues.
ABA resolutions have at times supported U.S. government policy, and at other times
have opposed or urged the government to refine its policies with respect to the UN.
Among the most important of those ABA policies relating to the UN are these:
A 1978 resolution supporting compliance with the human rights provisions of the
Helsinki Agreement of 1975 and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
A 1978 resolution favoring U.S. acceptance of the UN Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
A 1984 resolution favoring U.S. acceptance of the UN Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
A 1986 resolution urging U.S. acceptance of the UN Convention Against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
A 1991 resolution supporting in principle U.S. ratification of the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child;
A 1999 resolution urging the U.S. Congress to enable U.S. trade agencies to
implement U.S. trade laws, enforce agreements with trading partners, and
promote a “rule based” world trading system;
A 2004 resolution urging the U.S. government to implement HIV/AIDS-related
initiatives in a manner consistent with international human rights law and
science-based prevention, care, support and treatment;
Numerous resolutions regarding the International Criminal Court, its jurisdiction,
and U.S. participation;
Numerous resolutions urging reform of UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific, and
Cultural Organizations) and U.S. return as a member of UNESCO;
Most recently, an ABA resolution adopted last year supports the establishment of
a UN Human Rights Council to replace the UN Human Rights Commission, and
recommends that the new Human Rights Council give the highest priority to fulfilling its
mandate to protect and promote fundamental human rights. I wrote to Secretary of
State Rice last month, and again two days ago, expressing the American Bar
Association’s support for the U.S. position on reform of the UN Human Rights
Commission, including the call for election of members of this crucial new body to be
done by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly.
The ABA has expressed its support for a smaller Council, as the U.S.
government has proposed, under the theory that a smaller Council would help to ensure
its effectiveness and would also be more likely to prevent human rights abusers from
becoming members. I also communicated to Secretary Rice the ABA’s support for rules
of the new Council that would:
(1) preclude membership of any UN Member State that is subject to censure by
the Human Rights Council or to actions taken by the Security Council under
Chapter VII of the UN Charter; and
(2) direct the UN Secretary-General to use his good offices to persuade
members to select only member states with good human rights records.
Despite the fact that the some of the concerns expressed by the U.S.
government and the ABA were not addressed in the formation of the new Human Rights
Council, the ABA is urging the U.S. to announce its candidacy for the Council and be
fully engaged in establishing the agenda and responsibilities of the Council.
As your presence here today attests, many ABA entities and members continue
to have a deep and abiding interest in the United Nations’ work on a range of legal and
human rights issues worldwide. Our Section of International Law, Center for Human
Rights, and four regional rule of law initiatives in Africa, Asia, Central Europe and
Eurasia, and Latin America all work to further Goal VIII of the American Bar Association,
to promote “advancement of the rule of law in the world.”
The ABA’s collaboration with the UN Development Programme led to the
establishment of the ABA/UNDP International Legal Resource Center, headed by the
ABA’s Ms. Hongxia Liu, which provides on-the-ground support and expertise to global
governance programs and projects advancing legal and judicial reform and democratic
institution building. The International Legal Resource Center has provided assistance in
more than thirty countries since its establishment in the year 2000, and is currently
providing support for justice system reform from Afghanistan to Vietnam.
The ABA will continue to work with the UN to promote good governance, stable
and effective legal and judicial systems, fair trade and exchange of ideas and expertise,
and protection of human rights worldwide.
It is now my distinct pleasure to introduce our luncheon speaker, Mark Malloch
Brown. Mr. Malloch Brown has just assumed the office of Deputy Secretary-General of
the United Nations, by appointment of Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Prior to his new
position, he served as Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General. In that position, he
worked on all aspects of UN governance and operations, including an ambitious reform
Mr. Malloch Brown previously served for more than five years as Administrator of
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in which capacity he provided
support and guidance to the ABA-UNDP International Legal Resource Center. As
Administrator of the UNDP, he oversaw a comprehensive reform effort that transformed
the UNDP into a more focused and efficient operation while doubling its annual
resources to over $4 billion dollars. He helped to expand UN support to developing
countries in democratic governance and strengthened UNDP leadership in natural
disasters and post-conflict situations.
At the request of Secretary-General Annan, Mr. Malloch Brown led the UN efforts
to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – eight, time-bound development targets
with the goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
Prior to his appointment with the UNDP he served at the World Bank as VicePresident for External Affairs, and Vice-President for United Nations Affairs. He is
credited with helping the World Bank enhance its outreach and expand its partnership
with the UN and NGO’s. Mr. Malloch Brown founded The Economist Development
Report, a monthly report on the aid community and the political economy for
development. He also worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees and was stationed in Thailand, where he directed field operations for
Cambodian refugees. Mr. Malloch Brown was recognized by Time Magazine as one of
the world’s 100 most influential people in 2005.
Please join me in welcoming Mark Malloch Brown.