IILJ History & Theory of IL Workshop with Guy Sinclair

Oct 6, 2023
12:00pm - 2:00pm

How to Disarm a Revolution: The United Nations and the Rise of Neoliberalism in International Economic Governance

October 6th, 2023

22 Washington Square North & on zoom

In a new paper, Guy Sinclair argues that the United Nations (UN) was deeply complicit in the entrenchment of neoliberal practices in international law and governance during the last quarter of the twentieth century. This argument runs against a widely shared view which draws a sharp contrast between the activities and ideology of the UN and those of international financial institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization.

Envisaging the UN as an assemblage of heterogeneous entities in diverse and shifting relationships with one another, Guy’s paper traces the transformation in its aims and activities through three broad and somewhat overlapping stages. First, the energies of the New International Economic Order were diverted and channeled into procedures for reform of the UN itself. Second, UN entities responded in diverse ways to the rise of neoliberal orthodoxy in the IFIs, sometimes compromising with the latter and at other times attempting various forms of resistance against it. Finally, UN entities’ efforts to link social and human development to programs for economic growth contributed to the convergence towards a new “consensus” on development among the UN and the IFIs.


Guy Fiti Sinclair, Associate Professor, Auckland Law School

In Conversation with:

George Abi-Saab, Honorary Professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute and at Cairo University’s Faculty of Law, and former Chair of the WTO Appellate Body.

Martti Koskenniemi, Emeritus Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights.

Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor at the Gallatin School of Individual Study at NYU and faculty director of the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights.

Moderated by:

Rob Howse, Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law at NYU School of Law.

Register for or in person participation;

or register for zoom here; the paper will be sent to those who plan to attend.