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Ulysses Smith

In 2016, Ulysses was recognized by the UN Global Compact as one of ten SDG Pioneers for his efforts that align with Sustainable Development Goal 16, on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. In September 2017, Ulysses was appointed Special Advisor to the UN Global Compact on Anti-Corruption and Global Governance. 

Ulysses is active in a variety of international legal forums, including serving as chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on Good Governance in the Secretary – General Selection; and previously serving as chair of the United Nations Committee of the New York City Bar Association. He has addressed the UN General Assembly on legal issues related to Western Sahara.

 
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In 2016 he gave a CV Starr Lecture at New York Law School, entitled “Governance: A New Frontier for International Lawyers,” and chaired a panel alongside the World Economic Forum’s Africa Meeting, entitled “Governing Development: Opportunities and Challenges for the Private Sector in the 2030 Agenda.”

Frequent speaker and author on issues of governance and development, multilateralism, rule of law, Ulysses has addressed the UN General Assembly on legal issues related to Western Sahara, and is a frequent speaker at law schools on the role of lawyers in contributing to good governance and sustainable development.

Ulysses is a 2007 graduate of Cornell Law School, where he was Managing Editor of the Cornell Law Review, and a member of the New York Bar.

 
 
 

Honors

Honored in 2016 by UN Global Compact as one of ten Global SDG Pioneers; Ulysses was the only American and only attorney recognized, and was commended for work contributing to peace, justice, governance and rule of law

Recognized as a “Highly Recommended” attorney for governance, Legal 500 2016

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Experience

  • Co-created and managed first-of-kind legal practice in international governance and development; practice ranked in Tier 1 for governance by Legal 500 2016
  • Co-created and managed high-profile annual conference on governance and international development at Oxford University, Advancing Good Governance in International Development
  • Served on the steering committee of the Europe and Other States regional meeting of the World Humanitarian Summit
 
Governance advisers to business, government, and philanthropies.
  • Founder and Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on Good Governance in the Secretary-General Selection; leads 40 New York and international lawyers in efforts to increase transparency, accountability and participation in the process of selecting the next UN Secretary-General
  • Former Chair of New York City Bar Association’s United Nations Committee
  • Partnered on team for the UK Parliament’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact in preparation of a high-profile report reviewing the Department for International Development’s (“DFID”) approach to anti-corruption and its impact on the poor. Ulysses was part of the team of development and governance experts that conducted fieldwork in Nepal and Nigeria, interviewing senior DFID personnel in London and, in the field, a range of program stakeholders including senior government ministers, judges and police, anti-corruption personnel, and beneficiaries
  • Undertook large-scale governance review to advise UN member states on principles-based governance reforms for the UN Development System, including the UN Development Program, UN Women, Unicef and UNHCR
  • Conducted three-year long review of the governance structure of girls education NGO Camfed, which involved fieldwork in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and which culminated in the ground-breaking report “Camfed Governance: Accounting to the Girl – Working Towards a Standard for Governance in the International Development Sector”. The report was spotlighted at the 2010 Skoll World Forum and the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative
  • Partnered on project with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development to assist African Union member states to develop governance frameworks to tackle illicit financial flows
  • Assisted World Vision International on its governance stock-taking effort
  • Advised UK-based NGO on issues related to governance and rule of law in the Post-2015 development agenda
  • Advised UN Global Compact on the governance impact of its workstreams on Anti-Corruption, Business for Peace, and Business for the Rule of Law
  • Advised Board of Directors of major infrastructure multinational on issues of governance, anti-bribery and corruption, and sustainable development
  • Advised Ghanaian conglomerate on issues of governance, compliance and sustainable development; included major companies in media, mining, petroleum, packaging, and financial sectors
  • Designed unified governance and compliance framework for an oil and gas company in Nigeria; included fieldwork in Abuja, Lagos and the Niger Delta
  • Advised clients on developing governance models that reduce the risk of international sanctions violations
  • Represented Philippines-based NGO in connection with an investigation by USAID and related governance issues
  • Advised African oil and gas multinational on social development issues
  • Advised state-owned enterprise in South America on adapting its governance to better compete in a globalized energy market 
  • Advised international infrastructure and engineering consultancy on an internal investigation involving the World Bank 
  • Undertook review of Colombia-based multinational’s approach to governance, and advising on international best practices related to anti-bribery and corruption 
  • Advised the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat on issues of governance in the humanitarian sector; and assisted in the preparation of the WHS Synthesis Report 
 

Select Publications

  • “Governance Above and Beyond Compliance”, Today’s General Counsel, August 2016
  • "To Achieve Peace and Security in the World, Don't Forget Governance", Diplomatic Courier, June 2016
  • “Governance: When a ‘narrow, cramped view’ of Compliance Won’t Do”, British American Business Network, June 2016
  • “Governance for the United Nations Development System: Adapting to meet the challenges of a changing world,” May 2016
  • “Embedding good governance in the World Humanitarian Summit Synthesis Report: a spotlight on the evidence”, Together We Stand, April 2016
  • “Prioritizing Human Security: Delivering a United Nations That Prevents Atrocities”, The Huffington Post, March 2015
  • “Secretary-General's Synthesis Report on Post-2015 Agenda: A Missed Opportunity”, The Huffington Post, December 2014
  • “For Post-2015, International Community Should Focus on Enabling Sustainable Development”, The Huffington Post, October 2014
  • “New Global Child Support Convention Holds Promise for Millions of Children Worldwide”, The Huffington Post, May 2014
  • "Camfed Governance: Accounting to the Girl – Working Towards a Standard for Governance in the International Development Sector", Linklaters, April 2011
 
 

Professional Affiliations

Founder and Chair, Task Force on Good Governance in the Secretary-General Selection,
New York City Bar Association (2016 – present)

Liaison, American Bar Association International Section to New York City Bar Association,
(2015 – present)

Member, Council on International Affairs, New York City Bar Association (2012 – present)

Chair, United Nations Committee, New York City Bar Association (2012 – 2015)

Member, Steering Committee on Global Governance, Open Working Group on
Sustainable Development Goals (2014)

 
 

Select Speaking Engagements

  • World Bank Law Justice and Development Week, “Corporate Lawyers as Global Change Agents: Advancing Private Sector Commitments to the SDGs”, Washington DC, December 2016 (panelist)
  • UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, “Role of Lawyers in Advancing the SDGs”, New York, June 2016 (featured speaker)
  • World Economic Forum Africa Meeting, “Governing Development: Opportunities and Challenges for the Private Sector in the 2030 Agenda”, Kigali, May 2016 (chair) 
  • CV Starr Lecture at New York Law School, “Governance: A New Frontier for International Lawyers”, New York, November 2015 (guest lecturer) 
  • Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar, “Governance and the Post 2015 Agenda: Measuring Impact”, Oxford University, June 2015 (moderator)
  • Cornell International Law Journal Symposium on China’s Economic Excursion into Africa, “Governance Structures and Institutional Effectiveness”, Ithaca, February 2015 (guest commentator)
  • Fordham Law School, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, International Human Rights Clinic, “Role of Law Firms in International Development and Governance”, New York, November 2014 (guest lecturer)
  • New York Law School conference “Twenty Years of South African Constitutionalism,” “Parliament as a Force for, or Against, Constitutional Rights in South Africa”, New York, November 2014 (moderator)
  • New York City Bar Association, “Rule of Law: A Cornerstone for Peace, Development, and Human Rights”, New York, July 2014 (moderator)
  • “Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar” Closing Plenary, “Governance and the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, Oxford University, June 2014 (moderator)
  • New York City Bar Association, “Global Implications of the Westgate Mall Attack in Nairobi, Kenya”, New York, November 2013 (moderator)
  • Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar, “Technology and Governance: A Feedback Network for Clients”, Oxford University, June 2013 (moderator)
  • New York City Bar Association, “Strengthening the International Legal Framework for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: Opportunities and Gaps”, New York, March 2013 (moderator)
  • Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar, “Radical Innovation for Change”, Oxford University, June 2012 (moderator)
  • United Nations Fourth Committee, Statement on Behalf of the New York City Bar Association on Legal Issues Related to Western Sahara, New York, October 2011 (speaker)
  • World Bank Law Justice and Development Week, “Corporate Lawyers as Global Change Agents: Advancing Private Sector Commitments to the SDGs”, Washington DC, December 2016 (panelist)
  • UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, “Role of Lawyers in Advancing the SDGs”, New York, June 2016 (featured speaker)
  • World Economic Forum Africa Meeting, “Governing Development: Opportunities and Challenges for the Private Sector in the 2030 Agenda”, Kigali, May 2016 (chair) 
  • CV Starr Lecture at New York Law School, “Governance: A New Frontier for International Lawyers”, New York, November 2015 (guest lecturer) 
  • Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar, “Governance and the Post 2015 Agenda: Measuring Impact”, Oxford University, June 2015 (moderator)
  • Cornell International Law Journal Symposium on China’s Economic Excursion into Africa, “Governance Structures and Institutional Effectiveness”, Ithaca, February 2015 (guest commentator)
  • Fordham Law School, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, International Human Rights Clinic, “Role of Law Firms in International Development and Governance”, New York, November 2014 (guest lecturer)
  • New York Law School conference “Twenty Years of South African Constitutionalism,” “Parliament as a Force for, or Against, Constitutional Rights in South Africa”, New York, November 2014 (moderator)
  • New York City Bar Association, “Rule of Law: A Cornerstone for Peace, Development, and Human Rights”, New York, July 2014 (moderator)
  • “Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar” Closing Plenary, “Governance and the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, Oxford University, June 2014 (moderator)
  • New York City Bar Association, “Global Implications of the Westgate Mall Attack in Nairobi, Kenya”, New York, November 2013 (moderator)
  • Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar, “Technology and Governance: A Feedback Network for Clients”, Oxford University, June 2013 (moderator)
  • New York City Bar Association, “Strengthening the International Legal Framework for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: Opportunities and Gaps”, New York, March 2013 (moderator)
  • Advancing Good Governance in International Development Seminar, “Radical Innovation for Change”, Oxford University, June 2012 (moderator)
  • United Nations Fourth Committee, Statement on Behalf of the New York City Bar Association on Legal Issues Related to Western Sahara, New York, October 2011 (speaker)