“Architects of the Better World”: The Birth of the International Parliamentary Complex (1918–1998)

Seminars and Colloquia

Even before the U.S. President, Harry S. Truman, urged the attendants of the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization to see themselves as “architects of the better world,” the field of global governance has proven to be a fertile ground for metaphors drawn from architecture. Indeed, in the collective imagination of practitioners and scholars alike, the international legal order appears as a vast and towering edifice: a veritable “legal architecture” of globality that overlooks “areas” of governance sustained by figurative and normative “pillars.” But international law’s castles, of course, were not built solely in the air, for the metaphorical use of architectonic language only hides international law’s profound lack of engagement with the material and concrete spaces in which the “international” is produced, contested, and disputed.

Conversely, in this presentation, Quiroga-Villamarin argued that the “architecture of international cooperation” is a relevant question for international legal history. Instead of taking purpose-built environments for granted, he traced a genealogy of the emergence of the international parliamentary complex as a spatial technology of global governance (1918–1998). The colloquium drew from science and technology studies (STS), Foucauldian insights into the relationship between power and knowledge, and the material turn in history to dissect the form of the international parliament as an apparatus of material practices and prefigurative discourses that enables a particular type of procedure and gives certain actors claims to global authority. Historicizing space and spatializing history, the speaker suggested, might enable us to understand the role of architectonic infrastructures in the creation of socio-technical imaginaries of global governance.

Daniel Quiroga-Villamarin obtained his law degree (with a minor in public affairs) from the Universidad de los Andes—Uniandes in Bogotá, Colombia. Additionally, he holds an MA in International Law from the Institut de Hautes Études Internationales et du Développement—IHEID in Geneva, Switzerland, where he received the Fondation Hans Wilsdorf scholarship and the 2020 Mariano Garcia Rubio Prize for MA Mémoire. Currently, he is pursuing a doctoral degree in international law at the same institution, with the expected completion in 2024.

Ivan Vejvoda, IWM Permanent Fellow, moderated this Fellows' Colloquium.


Fellows Colloquia are internal events for the IWM Visiting Fellows and Guests.