Friday, June 8, 2018

Fiti Sinclair on international organizations and modern states

Guy Fiti Sinclair, Victoria University of Wellington Law School published To Reform the World: International Organizations and the Making of Modern States with Oxford University Press in 2017. From the publisher:
Cover for 

To Reform the World

This book explores how international organizations (IOs) have expanded their powers over time without formally amending their founding treaties. IOs intervene in military, financial, economic, political, social, and cultural affairs, and increasingly take on roles not explicitly assigned to them by law. Sinclair contends that this 'mission creep' has allowed IOs to intervene internationally in a way that has allowed them to recast institutions within and interactions among states, societies, and peoples on a broadly Western, liberal model. Adopting a historical and interdisciplinary, socio-legal approach, Sinclair supports this claim through detailed investigations of historical episodes involving three very different organizations: the International Labour Organization in the interwar period; the United Nations in the two decades following the Second World War; and the World Bank from the 1950s through to the 1990s. 
The book draws on a wide range of original institutional and archival materials, bringing to light little-known aspects of each organization's activities, identifying continuities in the ideas and practices of international governance across the twentieth century, and speaking to a range of pressing theoretical questions in present-day international law and international relations.
Praise for the book:

 "Studies on globalization rarely notice the profound role played by international institutions on the ideology and practices of the modern administrative state. In this eye-opening work Sinclair examines the way the International Labour Organization, the UN, and the World Bank have expanded their legal competences, often unnoticed by their member states, so as to impose on the latter definite (Western) models of domestic governance.Thanks to Sinclairs meticulous work, we can now witness how the informal dynamics of international law and practice have, since early 20th century, made global institutions relatively autonomous from their member states, projecting on the latter definite, sometimes deeply contested ideas about good governance. This is a superb study of the globalization of ideology." - Martti Koskenniemi

"International organizations play an unprecedented role in our everyday lives. Guy Sinclair's superb book ranges over and compares three major organizations and their activities over many decades. It illuminates in detail the complex legal, pragmatic and technocratic arguments developed and deployed by organizations to justify their ever expanding practices. It explains in this way how institutions participate in the central themes of global governancewar, peace, developmentand thus shape the modern world. This is an outstanding study of the inner lives of international organizations and the personalities that ran them. It offers enduring insights into issues that will only become more important over time." - Antony Anghie

"With a strong historical rationale, Sinclairs approach avoids both a morality driven vision for a better but far distant future and a power-driven neorealistic narrative of a dark present... This elegantly written and inspiring book investigates the expansion of powers of international organizations as a practice intertwined with the making of modern Western states through the lens of international law." - Journal of the History of International Law

Further information is available here.