The publications listed here represent a small selection of the work of staff members of the GCILS. To see full listings of publications please click through to the University of Glasgow main webpages in each individual staff member profile.

The concept of affectedness in international development

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The groups who experience direct impacts of development projects are generally known as ‘affected people’. This category is gaining traction in the governance of international financial institutions (IFIs) and is arguably becoming ubiquitous in contemporary development discourse. In this paper I investigate what ‘affectedness’ means, and also what it should mean in development context. The aim is to examine the grounds based on which the scope of affected people can be ascertained, and to underline the conceptual but also practical difficulties associated with this exercise. The proposed analysis is predominantly theoretical. It builds on the debate about the ‘all-affected principle’, as well as the theory of democratic inclusion by Iris Marion Young. My main argument is that currently the idea of affectedness functions as a boundary of inclusion/exclusion in the governance of development projects. I therefore suggest that leaving this category entirely open-ended also leaves it exposed to arbitrariness of decision-makers. This is problematic, because generally consultations that include affected people are seen as conveying legitimacy and proving social support to development initiatives. Without principled approach to affectedness, this process of selecting who should be consulted and who should not, enables an unjustified exclusion of the most vulnerable communities. This paper suggests that in the context of international development the most plausible ground for inclusion is vulnerability, which can be articulated by using the notion of structural social groups developed by Iris Young. These two concepts combined offer a principled enough approach for decision-makers to identify the minimal scope of affected persons.

World Development, Volume 126, February 2020, 104700

The Role of Treaties in Pursuing the Objectives of the UN Charter: The Text and the Practice

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The United Nations is a vital part of the international order. Yet this book argues that the greatest contribution of the UN is not what it has achieved (improvements in health and economic development, for example) or avoided (global war, say, or the use of weapons of mass destruction). It is, instead, the process through which the UN has transformed the structure of international law to expand the range and depth of subjects covered by treaties. This handbook offers the first sustained analysis of the UN as a forum in which and an institution through which treaties are negotiated and implemented. Chapters are written by authors from different fields, including academics and practitioners; lawyers and specialists from other social sciences (international relations, history, and science); professionals with an established reputation in the field; younger researchers and diplomats involved in the negotiation of multilateral treaties; and scholars with a broader view on the issues involved. The volume thus provides unique insights into UN treaty-making. Through the thematic and technical parts, it also offers a lens through which to view challenges lying ahead and the possibilities and limitations of this understudied aspect of international law and relations.

In: Chesterman, S., Malone, D. M. and Villalpando, S. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook on United Nations Treaties


Self-Defence against Non-State Actors

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From the Max Planck trialogues series, this book provides an in-depth and up-to-date study of the international law on self-defence against non-State actors. The 'trialogical' method – setting out three complementary, at times ’competing’ perspectives, by leading scholars, on the law of self-defence – makes for a novel and unique format that reacts to shifting world order. The book is relevant for academics and students of international law, as well as for practitioners advising governments and non-State actors on the rules governing recourse to force.


Mary Ellen O'Connell
Dire D Tladi

The World Bank Environmental and Social Framework in a wider realm of public international law

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Introduction to Symposium on the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework in Leiden Journal of International Law (2019), 32, 457–463

Tied affectedness? Grassroots resistance and the World Bank

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This paper argues that there can be no category of ‘affected people’ without a decision-making process that triggers affectedness in the first place. In that sense, affectedness is a category that is by default, although not irreversibly, ‘tied’ to a certain institutional context. In this paper, I examine such ‘tied’ quality of affectedness by focusing on the benefits and dangers of the affectedness paradigm to grassroots organisations in the context of World Bank projects. Whilst in principle the category of ‘affected people’ seems to empower the grassroots, this article argues that the danger of institutional co-optation in this context is also high. The World Bank and its borrowers have full discretion to include, but also to exclude, people from this category. Therefore, the voices of grassroots organisations relying on this paradigm can be instrumentalised and distorted. This article suggests that mediation can help to ‘untie’ affectedness from the top-down institutional discourse, in order to create space for a more balanced dialogue between resistance groups and decision-makers.

Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal / Volume 3 / Issue 5-6 / March 2019 / pp. 703-724

The Statute of the International Court of Justice (3rd Edition): A Commentary

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The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and plays a central role in both the peaceful settlement of international disputes and the development of international law. This comprehensive Commentary on the Statute of the International Court of Justice analyses in detail not only the Statute of the Court itself but also the related provisions of the United Nations Charter as well as the relevant provisions of the Court's Rules of Procedure.


Andreas Zimmermann
Karin Oellers-Frahm
Christian Tomuschat