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Sam Daws

Sam Daws

Director, Project on UN Governance and Reform, Centre for International Studies

Sam Daws has worked in UN-related policy roles for three decades. In 2012-13 he served as Deputy Director in the UK Cabinet Office supporting the Prime Minister’s role as Co-Chair of the UN Panel on the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals. He previously served as Senior Principal Research Analyst in the Multilateral Policy Directorate of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. From 2000 to 2003 Sam served as First Officer to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York. He then became Executive Director of the United Nations Association of the UK from 2004 to 2010, and subsequently served as the UK Representative of the United Nations Foundation. In his early career he undertook voluntary work in India at a hospice in Calcutta (Kolkata) and a renewable energy charity in Ladakh, then worked for the Quaker UN Office in Geneva at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and later as a researcher for the (shadow) Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. 

Sam is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies with an interest in all aspects of UN research and policy. He has written or co-edited 14 books on the UN including The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations (OUP, 2007 and a forthcoming 2nd edn. July 2018) and The Procedure of the UN Security Council (OUP, 1998 and 4th edn 2014) He has served as an advisor to a variety of governments, international foundations and UN bodies.  He is currently providing training to the FCO’s Diplomatic Academy on how diplomats can better navigate the politics and processes of the UN.  He also lectures on the international staff course of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He is an associate member of the SCR of St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Sam has a degree in social anthropology with African and Asian development studies, and a masters in international conflict analysis with a focus on international trade negotiations. He studied for a D.Phil. at New College, Oxford in international relations (on UN Security Council reform) but left for New York before completing his doctorate to work for the UN Secretary-General.  He later spent a year at Cambridge University as a Visiting Fellow in International Law and earlier was a visiting fellow at Yale University in UN studies. He has undertaken executive courses in international negotiation in Geneva, in environment and human security at the UNU leadership academy in Amman, Jordan, and in economics for foreign policy at the LSE.

Sam is also Director of the advisory firm 3D Strategy Ltd. He has a post-graduate qualification from Cass Business School in Grantmaking, Philanthropy and Social Investment, and currently serves as a Social Impact Industry Advisor to Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. In 2009 he completed the one-year executive leadership and management programme (TMP 91) of the National School of Government, sponsored by the Cabinet Office. He previously studied Foundation and Endowment Asset Management at London Business School.

Sam has been a non-executive director on the Boards of the Academic Council on the UN System and the World Federation of UN Associations, He was trust secretary to the UNA-UK charitable trust and a trustee of the Gilbert Murray Trust. He founded and convened the UN working group of the British International Studies Association, and served on BISA’s national executive committee.

Research Interests

Sam Daws is currently writing a monograph on the political, historical, and legal dimensions of UN Security Council reform, to be published in 2020 by Oxford University Press, and will be visiting New Delhi, New York and Brasilia for research on this book in the course of 2018.  He is particularly keen to make contact with diplomats and researchers with an interest in this topic, as well as those with experience in researching UN-related topics in national archives in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe (East and West).

Current research interests:

  • The politics and process of the UN - including elections to UN bodies
  • Creation, strategy and consensus building in UN high-level panels and commissions
  • Developing country perspectives on international organisations
  • Navigating issues across informal (e.g. G20) and more formalized (e.g. UN) institutions
  • The Office and role of the UN Secretary-General
  • The composition, voting procedures and reform of UN political organs
  • Legal interpretation of the UN Charter and UN resolutions
  • The history of international organisations
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals, social impact, and innovation in development financing
  • Implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the contribution of technological innovation to national ambition for decarbonisation
  • International foundation and private sector contributions to sustainable development in the fields of energy, the environment, technology, health, and education
  • Knowledge management (from learning lessons to strategic planning) in international organisations
  • UN strategic communications
  • The UN in a changing word – the opportunities and challenges presented by developments in technology – from drones and ICT to AI and the blockchain.
United Nations


Books authored

The Reform of the United Nations Security Council:  A Political, Historical, and Legal Analysis, Daws, S. Oxford University Press (forthcoming - target publication date Oct 2020)

The Procedure of the UN Security Council, Sievers, L. and Daws S, Oxford University Press, 4th Edn, 2014 (previously Bailey, S. and Daws, S. Oxford University Press, 3rd Edn., 1998)

The United Nations A Concise Political Guide, Bailey, S. and Daws, S. Macmillan Press, 3rd Edn., 1994

Books edited

The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, Weiss, T. and Daws, S. Oxford University Press, paperback 2008, hardback 2007.  New 2nd edn to be published in July 2018.

The United Nations (Sage Library of International Relations - 8 volumes of cross-disciplinary articles). Daws S and Samarsanghe, N. Sage 2015

The United Nations Volume 1: Origins and Evolution
The United Nations Volume 2: Machinery
The United Nations Volume 3: Roles and Relationships
The United Nations Volume 4: A UN for the 21st Century
The United Nations Volume 5: Conflict and Crisis
The United Nations Volume 6: Rights and Justice
The United Nations Volume 7: Poverty and Development
The United Nations Volume 8: Environment and Sustainability

The United Nations: Volume 1: Systems and Structures, Daws, S. and Taylor, P. Ashgate, 2000

The United Nations: Volume 2: Functions and Futures, Daws, S. and Taylor, P. Ashgate, 2000

Documents on Reform of the United Nations, Taylor, P., Daws, S. and Adamczick-Gerteis, U. Dartmouth, 1997


Selected Articles and Reports

Buitellaar T. and Daws S. Note on the Election and Distribution of the Non-Permanent Members of the UN Security Council in The UN Secretary-General and the UN Security Council, Fröhlich M. and Williams A. (OUP, 2018)

Daws S. The Challenges and Opportunities facing António Guterres, New World magazine, Dec 2016, UNA-UK.


Daws, S. Security Council Reform The Dual Risks, Proceedings of an International Conference on UN Reform, Tehran, 2005

Tharoor, S. and Daws, S. Humanitarian Intervention: Getting Past the Reefs, World Policy Journal, Volume XVII, No. 2., pp 21-30, 2001

Stewart, F. and Daws, S. An Economic and Social Security Council at the United Nations, Working paper series, 2001 (based on an original 1995 report for Christian Aid)

Daws, S.The United Nations in the Twenty-First Century, Current Issues in International Diplomacy and Foreign Policy Volume II, HMSO, 2000 (Also published as a Wilton Park Paper, No. 135, 1998)

Daws, S. The Origins and Development of UN Electoral Groups in Thakur, R. (ed.) What is Equitable Geographic Representation in the 21st Century? United Nations University, Tokyo, 1999

Daws, S. Proposals to Reform the UN Security Council, Oxford Analytica, Daily Brief, 24 Feb, 1998

Daws, S.Seeking Seats, Votes and Vetoes, The World Today, pp 256-259. Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, 1997

Daws, S. The United Nations and its Agencies in Day, A.J. (ed.) The Annual Register. Cartermill, 1994 (similar UN reference articles contributed to The Annual Register of 1995, 1996 and 1997)

Daws, S. and Lt Commander Brady, C.UN Operations: The Political-Military Interface, International Peacekeeping, Volume 1 No. 1. Frank Cass, London, 1994

Daws, S. The UN and Peacekeeping in Shepherd, R. (ed.) Operational Research and Future International Security Operations, 1994 (Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Military Operational Research)

Daws, S. and Ryan, N. Extending Mechanisms for Cooperation between the UN and Regional Bodies in Preventive Diplomacy and Conflict Management in Bravo, L.F. (ed.) Prospects for Reform of the United Nations System. Societ Italiana Per La Organizzazione Internazionale, CEDAM-PADOVA, Rome, 1993.

Daws, S. Preventive Diplomacy A UN/NGO Partnership in the 1990s. United Nations University, Tokyo and International Alert, London, 1993

Daws, S. Memorandum on An Agenda for Peace. UNA, London, 1993

Daws S. and Long, S. The CSCE and the United Nations - Competitors or Partners?, Proceedings of the European UNA Conference on The New Europe in a Wider World, Helsinki, Finland. UNA, London, 1992

George, B. and Daws, S. The Alphabet Soup of European Security: The Evolving Role of NATO, WEU, EC, CSCE & the UN, Report to the General Committee on Security, 1992 (CSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Budapest)

Daws, S. Intellectual Property in International Trade: The Case of Developing Countries and the GATT Uruguay Round. University of Kent at Canterbury, MA thesis. Mimeo, 1991

Daws, S. La crise de lenvironnement et les PMA in Stocker S. (ed.) Les pays les moins avancs dans les annes 1990 - Entre la relance et loubli. ICDA, Bruxelles, Belgique, 1990

Daws, S. and Pryke, J. The Second United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Development Education Forum No.18. Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, 1990

McPherson, M. and Daws, S. United Nations Commission on Human Rights: 46th Session. Quaker UN Office, Geneva, 1990

Daws, S. Environmental Issues - A focus for NGO Lobbying, Dialogue No.14. Futura, Italy, 1990

McPherson, M., Hindley, J. and Daws, S.The UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities in IMADR Human Rights Handbook Volume 2, 1989






United Nations reform, including Security Council reform

Appointment of the UN Secretary-General