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Tracing the Invisible History of the Global South and the United Nations: The Prohibitive Politics of Decolonization

Thursday 11 April 2019
Diplomacy and Global Affairs Research Seminar Series 2019
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague


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About the lecture

From the 1950s onwards, the emergence of states from the Global South (otherwise referred to as the ‘Third World’ or ‘Developing World’) significantly impacted the functioning and structure of the UN system. .and Latin America worked together with small and medium-sized powers, particularly but not exclusively, members of the Commonwealth Group, to adapt existing committees particularly the Fourth Committee (the Special Political and Decolonization Committee) and create other initiatives such as the Committee of 24 (the Special Committee on Decolonization), as part of a campaign to address the problems rendered by decolonization. In order to do so, they developed formal and informal communities of interests around specific issues, activated the agency of UN officials, created new rules and procedures and co-opted NGOs in an effort to protest the status quo: an unequal relationship between North and South. As these states interacted within the UN environment, they became socialized together, sharing a variety of ideas about decolonization that gradually became translated into different practices and policies, eventually leading to the transformation of international norms. In this way, alongside its norm-making capacity, this socializing dimension of the UN gives the organization a role in shaping the behavior of states, adding a new perspective to how it has historically functioned.

About the speaker

Alanna O’Malley is Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice, a newly-created position at Leiden University’s Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. This Chair, in honor of the former Dutch Foreign Minister and Mayor of The Hague Jozias Van Aartsen, is shared with The Hague University of Applied Sciences. The main focus of the Chair will be to create a new interdisciplinary research group on United Nations Studies and to organize a series of academic and public events to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN in 2020.

She is a historian focusing on the United Nations, decolonization, Congo and the Cold War. Her current research focuses on recovering the invisible histories of the UN, investigating the role of the Global South challenging the liberal world order from 1945-1981. She completed a PhD at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence from 2007-2012. In 2009, she was a Visiting Scholar at New York University, in Spring 2017 a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow at the Laureate Research Program in International History at the University of Sydney and from August 2017-February 2018 she was a Fulbright Research Scholar at the History Department of George Washington University in Washington D.C.

About the seminars

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.


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