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In pursuit of development: the United Nations, decolonization and development aid, 1949-1961

Rietkerk, Aaron (2015) In pursuit of development: the United Nations, decolonization and development aid, 1949-1961. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis examines a number of specific efforts by the United Nations to offer and administer development aid to newly independent and ‘underdeveloped’ countries from the Global South during the decades following World War Two. Broadly, this thesis casts light on the competitive nature of postwar international development. In doing so, it examines development as a contest, whereby, the United Nations sought to stake out a claim to its share of the global development process during the 1950s and early 1960s. Crucially, this thesis sets this struggle against the backdrop of the increasing demand for development aid that accompanied the advent of mass decolonization in Africa by 1960. Consequently, this gave rise to a heightened competition over what type of aid best suited newly independent countries and who should administer it. Here, this study demonstrates how the UN contended with both bilateral and multilateral aid options outside the Organization, as well as, the challenges associated with providing development aid to countries that requested noncolonial assistance yet jealously guarded their newly acquired sovereignty. Finally, it was through the UN’s belief in its development directive, its unique ‘brand’ of aid and the value of its operational pursuits that it added a crucial dimension to the development discourse of the period. At the UN, this resulted in the expansion of the UN’s development reach and development becoming a primary, if not the chief focus of the Organization during the First UN Development Decade of the 1960s. At the same time, it was during the postwar decades that the Organization helped to give development a global quality through a concerted effort towards the internationalization of development aid. Altogether, this thesis extends the boundaries of the study of postwar development by demonstrating how the UN functioned as an important autonomous institution and actor as it promoted economic and social development through multilateral development aid. Furthermore, this study challenges traditional interpretations of the UN that depict the Organization as solely a foreign policy tool of its member states or as an Organization predominantly concerned with peace and security issues during this era.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Aaron Dean Rietkerk
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Ashton, Nigel
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3158

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