Global Governance Centre
Thomas Gidney new

‘An Anomaly among Anomalies’:Colonial Membership at the League of Nations

Thomas Gidney, Research Associate at the Global Governance Centre
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Room S8, Maison de la paix, Geneva

In this Global Governance Talk, Thomas Gidney, Research Associate at the Global Governance Centre, will discuss his book on how British colonies were admitted as member states to the League of Nations and the politics behind why only Britain decided to “represent” its colonies internationally.

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The admission of colonial India as a founding member of the League of Nations is often perceived as an anomaly of the international system, as well as a paradox in imperial policy. Yet India’s admission was built on historical precedent and set the stage for other colonial polities in the British Empire to be later admitted to the League. The admission of colonies to international organisations was only practiced by the British Empire and was shunned by other European empires. However, the inclusion of British colonial polities to international organisations reveals new practices in imperial policy to legitimise empire in the face of growing nationalist resistance to colonial rule.

In his talk, Thomas Gidney will cover some of the findings in his thesis studying the accession of three colonial states: India in 1919, Ireland in 1923 and Egypt in 1937. Each colonial polity had a different status in the Empire and was admitted to the League at different points in its history. This thesis thus tracks the development of colonial representation from its outset at the League’s creation in 1919 towards the end of the League’s authority in the latter half of the 1930’s.



Thomas Gidney is a Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. His research covers topics such as colonialism and sovereignty within international organisations, often with a geographic focus on India. He is also a Research Associate at the Global Governance Centre working with Professor Andrew Thompson on the role of international organisations during the Vietnam War. 



Anamarija Andreska, PhD Researcher, International Relations/Political Science, Geneva Graduate Institute



Cristina Teleki, Research Associate, Global Governance Centre, Geneva Graduate Institute


Photo by UN Archive



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