Dissertation Title: Secrecy and Publicity in the International Order, 1919-45

Doctoral Supervisors: Professors Benedict Kingsbury & Martti Koskenniemi


Megan Donaldson holds degrees in law and history from the University of Melbourne, and an LLM in Legal Theory from NYU. She has worked in competition litigation, and as an associate to Justice Kenneth Hayne of the High Court of Australia. Following completion of her LLM she was a Research Fellow in NYU’s Institute for International Law and Justice, where she coordinated a cluster of international projects addressing aspects of global administrative law, and contributed in particular to research on the nature and implications of the “regulatory state” in the global South. More recently, she has explored questions of governance and law in contemporary international institutions, with a particular focus on the rhetoric and practices of transparency, and on the languages of (public) law and governance in international life. From October 2015 she will take up a Junior Research Fellowship in the History of International Law at King’s College, Cambridge.


Megan’s doctoral work traces ideas and practices of secrecy and publicity in the international order, with a focus on the interwar years as a foundational period for the elaboration of international institutions. Looking in particular at Britain, France and the US, her dissertation examines public contestation over secrecy and publicity (in legislatures and the press), but also draws on archives of the League of Nations, foreign ministries and government departments to probe how officials in international and national institutions responded to new demands for publicity, developing and refining practices to realize or frustrate them, or articulating their own visions of publicity or secrecy and the ends they served. She addresses dynamics of secrecy and publicity in the workings of League bodies, and in the areas of disarmament and arms control; the oversight of “mandates” and the interwar minorities regime; and trade and finance. Across these different areas, the dissertation follows the complex relations between publicity, law and administrative rationality in the international institutional landscape.


For publications, see SSRN page.

B Kingsbury, M Donaldson & Rodrigo Vallejo, “Global Administrative Law and Deliberative Democracy” in A Orford & F Hoffmann (eds), Oxford Handbook of International Legal Theory (OUP, forthcoming 2015).


C Saunders & M Donaldson, “Values in Australian Constitutionalism” in C Saunders, D Davis & A Richter (eds), An Inquiry into the Existence of Global Values through the Lens of Comparative Constitutional Law (Hart,2015).


B Kingsbury & M Donaldson, “Commentary: Roles of Law in the Regulatory States of the South” in N Dubash & B Morgan (eds), The Rise of the Regulatory State of the South (OUP, 2013).


M Donaldson & B Kingsbury, “The Global Governance of Public Law” in N Walker, C Mac Amhlaigh & C Michelon (eds), After Public Law (OUP, 2013).


M Donaldson & B Kingsbury, “Power and the public: the nature and effects of formal transparency policies in global governance institutions” in A Peters & A Bianchi (eds), Transparency in Public International Law (CUP, 2013) (a longer version of this essay appears in 9 Annual Review of Law & Social Science (2013)).


B Kingsbury & M Donaldson, “From Bilateralism to Publicness in International Law” in U Fastenrath et al (eds), Essays in Honour of Bruno Simma (OUP, 2011).


B Kingsbury & M Donaldson, “Global Administrative Law” in R Wolfrum et al (eds), Max Planck Encycopedia of Public International Law (OUP).


C Saunders, C Evans, C Fenwick, J Tham & M Donaldson, Workchoices: The High Court Challenge (Lawbook Co, 2007).


Conference presentations:

“Transparency and the construction of a global public: Formal transparency policies in the multilateral development banks”, Third Global Conference on Transparency Research (HEC, Paris, November 2013).

“Renegotiating Secrecy: The Registration of Treaties and International Order between the Wars”, Institute for Global Law and Policy Workshop (Harvard, June 2012).

Donaldson, presenting Donaldson & Kingsbury, “Power and the public”, “Transparency in International Law” workshop (Thun, Switzerland, January 2012).

Donaldson, presenting Donaldson & Kingsbury, “Global Governance of Public Law” , “After Public Law” workshop (University of Edinburgh, June 2011).

“The Politics of Transparency: The World Bank Access to Information Policy” , American Society of International Law International Organizations Interest Group Works-in-Progress Workshop (Washington DC, October 2010).


Megan's Bookshelf: