1st Edition

Why International Organizations Hate Politics Depoliticizing the World

By Marieke Louis, Lucile Maertens Copyright 2021
    222 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    222 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Building on the concept of depoliticization, this book provides a first systematic analysis of International Organizations (IO) apolitical claims. It shows that depoliticization sustains IO everyday activities while allowing them to remain engaged in politics, even when they pretend not to.

    Delving into the inner dynamics of global governance, this book develops an analytical framework on why IOs "hate" politics by bringing together practices and logics of depoliticization in a wide variety of historical, geographic and organizational contexts. With multiple case studies in the fields of labor rights and economic regulation, environmental protection, development and humanitarian aid, peacekeeping, among others this book shows that depoliticization is enacted in a series of overlapping, sometimes mundane, practices resulting from the complex interaction between professional habits, organizational cultures and individual tactics. By approaching the consequences of these practices in terms of logics, the book addresses the instrumental dimension of depoliticization without assuming that IO actors necessarily intend to depoliticize their action or global problems.

    For IO scholars and students, this book sheds new light on IO politics by clarifying one often taken-for-granted dimension of their everyday activities, precisely that of depoliticization. It will also be of interest to other researchers working in the fields of political science, international relations, international political sociology, international political economy, international public administration, history, law, sociology, anthropology and geography as well as IO practitioners.

    Introduction: Depoliticizing the world 

    Part I Practices of depoliticization

    1 Asserting expertise and pledging technical solutions  

    2 Formatting neutrality 

    3 Gaining time and losing momentum 

    Part II Logics of depoliticization

    4 Following a functional-pragmatic path 

    5 Monopolizing legitimacy 

    6 Avoiding responsibility 

    7 Conclusion: The politics of IO (de)politicization


    Marieke Louis is associate professor in political science at Sciences Po Grenoble (University Grenoble-Alpes), member of the PACTE research laboratory, and associate fellow at the Center for international studies, Sciences Po (Paris).

    Lucile Maertens is lecturer in political science and international relations at the Institute of Political Studies of the University of Lausanne, member of the CRHIM, and associate fellow at the Center for international studies, Sciences Po (Paris).

    "In this superb book, Lucile Maertens and Marieke Louis open a new research agenda on the depoliticization of international organizations. They do it in a way that is analytical, sophisticated, and yet engaging because it is grounded in real empirical puzzles." - Frédéric Mérand, University of Montreal, Canada.

    "This book is the final nail in the functionalist coffin of depoliticized global governance. Thanks to a rich analysis of everyday practices inside international organizations, Louis and Maertens show how little-understood professional and institutional logics lead civil servants and diplomats to portray politics as an obstacle to global governance—when it is in fact its irreducible condition." - Vincent Pouliot, McGill University, Canada.

    "The first systematic study on practices and logics of depoliticization within international organizations. A conceptually sophisticated and empirically rich book which sheds new light on international politics." - Guillaume Devin, Sciences Po Paris, France.