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Civil Servants and Public Policy

A Comparative Study of International Secretariats

By Robert I. McLaren
Subjects Social Science, Political Science, International Relations
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Paperback : 9781554585441, 160 pages, January 2006


This thoroughgoing study of international secretariats might be entitled "What the International Civil Servant Really Does," as opposed to what he or she should do or is believed to do. The author interviewed international officials, studied the documents of the agencies involved, and reviewed the relevant literature in an intensive investigation of the political role played by international secretariats of United Nations organizations. He suggests that various factors are involved in determining the role of these secretariats—size, types of functions, the degree of control exercised by member governments, the relative technical expertise of these governments and secretariat officials, the personalities of these officials. An original conclusion is reached: civil services, at least at the international level, do not necessarily play a significant policy-making role in their organizations.