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Where is he now? Former ABA President Zack can be found at the UN

Posted Oct 23, 2013 6:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Photo of Steve Zack by Marc Hauser.

The ABA’s first Hispanic American president has added another honor to his resumé.

Former ABA President Stephen N. Zack of Miami has been nominated to help represent the United States at the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations.

Zack has not yet been confirmed—the vote is set for December—but he’s already working at the United Nations as a senior adviser to the State Department, he tells the ABA Journal. If confirmed he will serve through next September as one of five public delegates, which are also known as an alternate representatives.

Though the confirmation vote is pending, Zack has already been scrutinized as part of a vetting process to obtain a top-secret clearance for his position as a senior adviser.

Last week, Zack presented the U.S. position before the Sixth Committee, which deals with legal questions in the General Assembly. Zack said in his statement that there is a “clear and undeniable” linkage between the rule of law and human rights, and between the rule of law and the development of enduring democratic institutions.

A partner with Boies, Schiller & Flexner, Zack continues to work for the law firm despite a busy schedule at the United Nations in the last month and a half. His work for the United States begins with meetings in the morning and ends with receptions in the evening.

“There can’t be a more interesting time to be at the U.N. than right now with all that is happening in the world,” Zack tells the ABA Journal. "I have found it invigorating and most certainly stimulating.”

Zack was present when the U.N. Security Council voted to require Syria to eliminate chemical weapons, and he heard speeches by Iran’s new president and Israel’s prime minister, who, according to this New York Times account, pressed for continued sanctions to keep nuclear weapons away from Iran. Zack has been assigned to the Sixth Committee and is also involved with the Third Committee, which deals with human rights issues.

In many ways, Zack says, his work for the United States is akin to a post-graduate education in international law and politics. “You’re kind of thrown in the pool, and you learn how to swim as quickly as possible,” he says.

President Obama nominated Zack last month, a development covered by the Florida Bar News, the Daily Business Review and the Miami Herald.

Zack has ties to several famous Democrats. He began his legal career as a legislative assistant to then-U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper and later worked as general counsel to U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. He also represented former Vice President Al Gore in the battle over the Florida vote count in Bush v. Gore.

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