1st Edition

Britain and the International Civil Service Empire, Internationalism, and Expertise in the Twentieth Century

By Amy Limoncelli Copyright 2025
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    This study emphasizes the legacies of British internationalism in the international organizations of the twentieth century while examining British responses to the end of the British Empire.


    After the First and Second World Wars, the victorious powers established international organizations such as the League of Nations and United Nations in an attempt to institutionalize peace. The staff of these bodies became known as the international civil service, which pledged loyalty to the aims of the organization rather than their home government. For most of the twentieth century, Britons were the most or second-most represented nationality in the international civil service. Why did so many Britons participate? This book shows how British planners at the League based the international civil service on the British civil services, and how subsequent British governments encouraged high rates of participation as a way to project influence and goodwill as the British Empire declined.


    This book will appeal to scholars of internationalism and modern history at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as specialists and international civil servants themselves.

    1.  “Truly International”  2. “A Friendly Partner”  3. “The Gilt is Off the Gingerbread”  4. “A Conscious Public Relations Effort”  5. “Absent from the Bridge”


    Amy Limoncelli teaches in the History Department at the College of William & Mary. She recently published the article Remaking the International Civil Service: The Legacies of British Internationalism in the United Nations Secretariat, 1945-47. She received her PhD in History from Boston College in 2016.