For the first session of the Fall 2018 IILJ History and Theory in International Law Workshop Series, we hosted Guy Fiti Sinclair, Senior Lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law and winner of the ESIL Book Prize. Sinclair presented his paper titled: Forging Modern States with Imperfect Tools: United Nations Technical Assistance for Public Administration in Decolonized States. Julian Arato, Associate Professor of Law at the Brooklyn Law School, and J. Benton Heath, Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering at NYU School of Law, responded to the paper. Karin Loevy, manager of the JSD Program and Visiting Scholar at the IILJ moderated.
Forging Modern States with Imperfect Tools: United Nations Technical Assistance for Public Administration in Decolonized States
In this article, Sinclair examines the UN’s programs of technical assistance for public administration as a ‘technology of stateness’ during the postwar period of decolonization (roughly 1945-1965). In part building upon interwar ideas of scientific management, public administration had attained the status of an independent science and discipline in North America and Europe by the end of World War II. Beginning in 1948, UN technical assistance programs incorporated training and direct assistance in public administration as an integral part of their efforts to promote economic and social development. The article traces the UN’s efforts over the next decade and a half to apply standards and techniques of public administration in ‘under-developed’ countries, situating these efforts in relation to other development activities of the time and their attendant conceptions of the state.