The International Civil Service

Oxford Handbook of Global Policy and Transnational Administration

Author/s (editor/s):

Edward Newman, Ellen Ravndal

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:
Oxford University Press

Edward Newman and Ellen Jenny Ravndal, ‘The International Civil Service’, in Diane Stone and Kim Moloney, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Global Policy and Transnational Administration, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019, pp. 165-81.

The international civil service (ICS) offers — in theory at least — an ideal model of administration within international organizations. This chapter explores the origins and evolution of the ICS from the classical model following the First World War to the twenty-first century era. For its early supporters, the ICS was the international community’s hope for the peaceful coexistence of states and functional cooperation. Yet tensions between these normative ideals and the reality facing international secretariats have never been resolved. The ICS operates under tremendous pressure from states, and in the twenty-first century, increasingly from the global public too. How does an ICS ethos that was developed in the early twentieth century travel to the twenty-first century? Is the concept still relevant today?

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