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International Commissions and the Power of Ideas
Edited by Ramesh Thakur, Andrew F. Cooper, John English
ISBN: 92-808-1110-X
May 2005
  350 pages
Description | Contents | Authors/Editors | Contributors
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           Executive Summary

    “This is the first volume that really focuses on the nature and impacts of the international commissions. It addresses the rationales and impacts of a very interesting and important development in international politics, and that is the creation of international commissions of experts and politically notable figures to try to break logjams in thinking with regard to major policy issues. The influence of the commissions has been quite varied, and it is precisely because of these differences that this book is a very valuable volume for government and international organization officials as well as academic scholars. This book is likely to stand as the most significant study of international commissions for some time.
  • /i>

    - Mark W. Zacher, Centre of International Relations,
    University of British Columbia Liu Institute, Canada

    “This book addresses an interesting question that has not been adequately covered: ideational factors in world politics and the role of international commissions. Its focus on the context and contents of those commissions
  • work is new. It brings new insights into new concepts and ideas as products of changing times and their impact as agencies of change. It therefore makes a useful contribution to the study of global governance in key issue areas.
  • - Professor Tatsuro Kunugi, International Christian University, Tokyo,
    and former UN Assistant Secretary General

  • Description

    How are good ideas for enhancing global governance converted into policy initiatives and international institutions? One major route has been via international commissions. The names of many are well known: Brandt, Palme, Brundtland, Kosovo, the Commission on Global Governance, and the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Yet, as an expression of the power of ideas, in the search for a better world, they remain under-analyzed.

    International Commissions and the Power of Ideas situates the Commissions as an inter-connected process shaping the mind - and the architectural body - of global governance. The influence of these Commissions has been varied, and these differences make this book particularly relevant. The character and record, and style and substance of a wide variety of International Commissions receive detailed analysis on an individual basis, while the generalized context and impact of International Commissions receives rich comparative appreciation.

    Ramesh Thakur is the Senior Vice-Rector of the United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan, (Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations). Andrew F. Cooper is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo, and Associate Director of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, Canada. John English is Executive Director, of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, Canada.


  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • International Commissions and the Mind of Global Governance
  • An Overview
  • The Brandt Commission
  • The End of an Era in North-South Politics
  • The Palme Commission
  • New Thinking about Security
  • The World Commission on Environment and Development
  • Ideas and Institutions Intersect
  • Equivocating on the Future of World Order
  • The Commission on Global Governance
  • Regulating the Possession and Use of Nuclear Weapons
  • Ideas, Commissions and Agency in International Security Politics
  • the Case of the Canberra Commission
  • Beyond Temples and Tombs
  • Towards Effective Governance for Sustainable Development Through The World Commission on Dams
  • Fair Assessment
  • The Independent International Commission on Kosovo
  • Intervention, Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect
  • Assessing the Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty
  • Humanitarian Intervention and the Principle of Non-intervention in the Americas
  • Ideas, Institutions and the Evolution of Women’s Human Rights
  • Ideas, Think Tanks, Commissions and Global Politics
  • International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • UN Reform Commissions
  • Is Anyone Listening?


  • Andrew F. Cooper
  • John English
  • Jean-Phillipe Thérien
  • Geoffrey Wiseman
  • W. Andy Knight
  • Marianne Hanson
  • Sanjeev Khagram
  • Richard J. Goldstone
  • Nicole Fritz
  • Ramesh Thakur
  • Jennifer Welsh
  • Carolin Thielking
  • S. Neil MacFarlane
  • Jorge Heine
  • Elizabeth Riddell-Dixon
  • Jon Pederse
  • Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala
  • Edward C. Luck

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