Book launch | “The World Bank’s Lawyers: The Life of International Law as Institutional Practice” (OUP, 2022) by Dr. Dimitri van den Meerssche

On Wednesday 16 November, 18:15 (CET), the ESIL Interest Groups on History of Intentional Law and International Organisations and Völkerrechtsblog, are hosting a book launch for The World Bank’s Lawyers by Dr. Dimitri van den Meerssche (Queen Mary University London).

Registration for the book launch is now open.

In addition to hearing from the author, discussants will include Gail Lythgoe (University of Manchester) and Negar Mansouri (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies) from the International Organizations IG.

The book The World Bank’s Lawyers: The Life of International Law as Institutional Practice was published by OUP in October 2022.


The World Bank’s Lawyers provides an original socio-legal account of the evolving institutional life of international law. Informed by oral archives, months of participant observation, interviews, legal memoranda and documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests, it tells an untold story of the World Bank’s legal department between 1983 and 2016. This is a story of people and the beliefs they have, the influence they seek and the tools they employ. It is an account of the practices they cling to and how these practices gain traction, or how they fail to do so, in an international bureaucracy. Inspired by Actor-Network Theory, relational sociologies of association and performativity theory, this ethnographic exploration multiplies the matters of concern in our study of international law(yering): the human and non-human, material and semantic, obscure and evasive actants that tie together the fragile fabric of legality. In tracing these threads, this book signals important changes in the conceptual repertoire and materiality of international legal practice, as liberal ideals were gradually displaced by managerial modes of evaluation. It reveals a world teeming with life—a space where professional postures and prototypes, aesthetic styles and technical routines are woven together in law’s shifting mode of existence. This history of international law as a contingent cultural technique enriches our understanding of the discipline’s disenchantment and the displacement of its traditional tropes by unexpected and unruly actors. It thereby inspires new ways of critical thinking about international law’s political pathways, promises and pathologies, as its language is inscribed in ever-evolving rationalities of rule.

Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑


The Law of the Sea Interest Group of the European Society of International Law


Interest Group on Peace and Security / Groupe de Réflexion sur la Paix et la Sécurité

International Organisations Interest Group

European Society of International Law

%d bloggers like this: