International Social Reform and the Invention of Development (ACIL Lecture)
Dr. Guy Sinclair will present a paper which traces the origins of postwar development theory and practices to the interwar international movement for social reform spearheaded by the International Labor Organization.
A widely shared narrative pinpoints the ‘birth of development’ to the rise of the United States to global dominance in the decade following the end of World War II. Challenging that narrative, the speaker will trace the origins of postwar development theory and practices to the interwar international movement for social reform spearheaded by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Established in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the ILO was endowed from the beginning with a mission to improve labor conditions internationally. That mission drove it continuously to expand the range of its activities, quickly moving beyond the strict, textual meaning of its constitutive instrument, both in terms of the topics it addressed and the kinds of powers it exercised. Over the first two decades of its existence, the ILO was thus transformed from an international standard setting body to a provider of technical assistance and a crucial incubator for ideas about modernization and development in the non-Western, colonized world.
In this lecture, the speaker will trace several concurrent trends that contributed to that transformation, including the ILO’s shift of focus beyond Europe to Asia and the Americas; its efforts to translate its (European) social reform efforts into these new contexts; and its championing of scientific management, rationalization, and national and international economic planning. In the process, as will be shown, the ILO played a key role in transmitting the interwar experience of social and economic development into the postwar United Nations system, in shaping the institutional framework to project that experience globally, and in facilitating the transition of the United States from the periphery to the core of the international system.
About the speaker
Dr. Guy Sinclair is a Senior Lecturer at the Law Faculty of Victoria University of Wellington. His principal area of teaching and research is public international law, with a focus on the law of international organisations, the history and theory of international law, and law and global governance.
Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam
Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Room A101
The ACIL regularly organizes ACIL Lectures at which external speakers present papers relevant to research carried out at the ACIL. ACIL Lectures are open to all; registration is not required.