The Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) is a global professional association of educational and research institutions, individual scholars, and practitioners active in the work and study of the United Nations, multilateral relations, global governance, and international cooperation. It promotes teaching on these topics, as well as dialogue and mutual understanding across and between academics, practitioners, civil society and students.
ACUNS was formed in 1988 when former UN officials noted there was a gap between academia and the UN.
Since July 2018, ACUNS has been hosted by the Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. The Executive Director is Professor Math Noortmann. A small secretariat staff is based in Coventry who are supported by the UN Human Resources department. UN staff can spend 3-6 months on sabbatical leave working for ACUNS within a member institution. ACUNS also sometimes accepts interns.
There are currently about 40 institutional members, mostly higher education bodies such as universities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), think tanks, civil societies etc from northern countries.
In addition there are about 600 individual members including senior and junior scholars, international organization officers, national government and NGO representatives, and other practitioners. They work in many different disciplines and diverse areas of expertise related to the United Nations, and global governance. This network offers a unique resource pool of knowledge and experience – an epistemic community – that can be drawn upon by other members as well as external organizations and agencies seeking contributions of research, advice and understanding of many contemporary and historical matters.
ACUNS main activities are: an annual meeting (in 2020 this will be in London); an annual ACUNS-UN workshop in which 10 UN staff and 10 young scholars discuss papers; and the publication of the Global Governance Journal. ACUNS membership includes a subscription to this journal.