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The Rockefeller Foundation, the League of Nations’ Intellectual Cooperation Project, and the Idea of “Internationalism” during the Second World WarMarch 23, 2022
In this report, I focus on documents that highlight the relationship among the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (IIIC), linked to the League of Nations, and the refugee scholar Henri Bonnet, the French intellectual and director of the IIIC, in the early 1940s. After the Nazi invasion of Paris in the Second World War, the formulation of a temporary center of intellectual cooperation in the Americas was placed on the agenda. Brazilian physiologist Miguel Ozório de Almeida had been well acquainted with Henri Bonnet and he took part in the Committee for the study of the establishment of this center. The main objective of this research report is to take a fresh look at these debates.
While not well known among the general public, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea remains one of the most important global environmental agreements ever reached. Under the auspices of the United Nations, delegates from over 150 nations worked for almost a decade to develop a comprehensive legal regime to govern the oceans. Yet these delegates did not discuss and debate alone. They were joined by a transnational network of activists, lawyers, scientists, and other professionals concerned with humanity's changing relationship with the oceans. Between the late 1960s and early 1980s, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) brought these different groups together in conferences, workshops, and other informal gatherings to advance scholarship, shape policy, and educate the public. But without the direct sponsorship of participating states, NGOs had to look elsewhere for the resources necessary to realize their mission. Philanthropic organizations, such as the Ford Foundation, often supplied a crucial source of funding. With the financial backing of wealthy foundations, smaller NGOs could explore ideas, establish relationships, and highlight voices left out of the official negotiations.
Wheat is one of the world's most important crops, source of almost a fifth of the world's calories. The Rockefeller Foundation has played a major role in wheat development, through its agricultural program of research, technical assistance, and educational extension. This work began with the foundation's support for the Mexican Agricultural Program in 1943, which later developed into the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). Over the following two decades, the foundation expanded its wheat program in South America, South Asia, and the Middle East. Yet while a number of scholars have examined the impacts of this work on wheat cultivation in Mexico and South Asia, little scholarship has looked at how this influence spread to the Middle East (with the exception of some work on Turkey.)
After two years of intensive negotiations, 156 countries signed a Framework Convention on Climate Change at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Bert Bolin, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1988 to 1997, believed that it would not have happened if a "well-organized and scientifically credible assessment had not been available in 1990." In turn, the IPCC assessment was possible "only because assessments initiated by the US National Academy of Sciences and the international scientific community had begun a decade earlier." As stated by Bolin, "the emergence of the climate change issue was primarily scientifically driven." But how did the issue move from the realm of science to the realm of politics? Who were the agents of this process? A series of documents produced by scientists, NGO and foundation officers, preserved in archival collections at the Rockefeller Archive Center, provides previously unexplored information about how the climate change issue broke onto the international policy making agenda in the 1980s.
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