The administrative anatomy of failure: The League of Nations Disarmament Section, 1919-1925

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This article investigates the creation and workings of the Disarmament Section of the League of Nations Secretariat. It shows that the Disarmament Section was an outlier of the Secretariat: supressed by the Great Powers, it had less autonomy than other parts of the administration, which from an early stage limited its bureaucratic practice to the production of information. This bureaucratic production created unreliable factual foundations for negotiations and unrealistic public expectations. Thus, the article argues that the troubled birth and administrative strangling of the Disarmament Section of the Secretariat should play a significant role in our understanding of the broader collapse of general disarmament. By making this argument, the article breaks new ground by introducing failure as an analytical category to understand the role and practices of international public administrations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary European History
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

ID: 239637570