Britain and international institutions

This event will be in Zoom

Until recently, the United Kingdom has been seen as a supporter of international institutions and international law. It was involved in the modern creation of those institutions after 1919 and 1945 and has maintained an international outlook and global purpose. As the world attempted to come to terms with the challenges of the post-Cold War era, Britain remained prominent. Now, as the pandemic confirms the ongoing relevance of historical questions about the relationship between nations and international institutions, Britain’s future world role is uncertain. With these contexts in mind, three historians will explore the relationship between Britain and the development of international institutions over the course of the short twentieth century. 

Professor Patricia Clavin (University of Oxford) will examine the role that Britain played in the development of global trade law relating to food and nutrition standard, in the context of the origins of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Dr James Ellison will consider Britain’s views on international law and the use of force at two moments of high cost and drama: the Suez crisis of 1956 and the Iraq war of 2003. And Professor Gaynor Johnson (University of Kent) will discuss Lord Robert Cecil's widely known views on the importance of the League of Nations and his less well understood opinions on the so-called New Diplomacy that underpinned it.


  • Professor Patricia Clavin (University of Oxford), ‘Britain, Global Governance, and Food Security, 1918-1947’
  • Dr James Ellison (Queen Mary, University of London), ‘Britain, international law and the use of force in 1956 and 2003’
  • Professor Gaynor Johnson (University of Kent), ‘Lord Robert Cecil, the League of Nations and the New Diplomacy', 1915-1920’


  • Dr Patrick Finney (Aberystwyth University, Chair of the British International History Group)

Registration will close two hours before the event begins.

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