Samoan awarded prestigious European law publication prize

A Samoan with roots in Tiapapata, Satalo, and Sapapali’i has been awarded the prestigious 2018 European Society of International Law Book of the Year Prize.

 Dr. Guy Fiti Sinclair, the son of the late Peter Sinclair and Ruta Fiti Sinclair, is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law.

The 2018 European Society of International Law (E.S.I.L.) Book Prize jury unanimously decided to award him the 2018 for his book “To Reform the World: International Organizations and the Making of Modern States” published by Oxford University Press.

The E.S.I.L. Book Prize jury evaluated a wide range of books published in 2017 submitted for consideration by leading international law publishers. The jury members for this year’s Prize were Sandrine Maljean-Dubois (Aix-Marseille University), Ana Maria Salinas De Frias (University of Málaga) and Christian J. Tams (University of Glasgow).

The jury explained their decision as follows:

“Guy Fiti Sinclair‘s book examines the expansion of powers exercised by international organizations under international law. The topic has been studied before, but Guy Fiti Sinclair approaches it in an innovative manner. 

He writes elegantly, and effortlessly straddles divides: between the doctrinal analysis of the law and reflective thinking about its role in international society; between big picture arguments and historical detail; between general concepts of international institutional law and the work of three very different organizations at different times, viz. technical assistance by the International Labour Organization, peacekeeping by the United Nations, and the World Bank‘s turn to governance. 

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Above all, he persuasively argues that the different attempts to ‘reform the world’ through international action reflected an attempt to ‘mak[e] modern states on a broadly Western model’ of statehood, and that international law was a central part of that attempt. 

This is an important new perspective that enhances our understanding of the working of international law and of the relationship between international action and visions of statehood.”

The E.S.I.L. Annual Conference in Manchester in September 2018 included a conversation with the author about the prize-winning book, and the award was presented during the conference dinner.

Mr. Sinclair is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law. 

His principal area of scholarship and teaching is public international law, with a focus on international organizations law, the history and theory of international law, and law and global governance. 

He is currently working on a project on 'Making International Economic Law: The Interaction of Institutions', supported by a Marsden Grant, awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand. 

He holds first degrees in law and history from the University of Auckland, and a JSD from New York University School of Law, where he was a Fulbright scholar. 

Prior to his academic career, Guy practised corporate and commercial law in the United Kingdom and New Zealand for over 10 years. 

He is an Associate Director of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board (and former Associate Editor) of the European Journal of International Law.

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