UIA Thesis Prize

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Project date: 1999-2003

In 2003, the Union of International Associations decided to award a Doctoral These Prize in the sum of € 6,000, in order to stress the importance of the associative phenomenon in what was rapidly becoming a worldwide society.

One of the requirements was the the these needed to be prepared on a subject concerning the life, operations or work of international non-governmental organizations seen as components of the international civil society.

The competition was open to students of all nationalities. Whatever his or her specialty, candidates were required to meet the conditions laid down by his or her own university for acceptance as a thesis candidate. Subjects suggested by candidates were required to be approved by a local course director and accompanied by a short note setting out the broad lines of the intended research.

Candidatures were received by UIA before the 31st December 2002. The thesis had to be upheld in 2001 or, at the latest, before the 30th November 2002. Manuscripts were written in English or French. Electronic submissions were also accepted.

The official award of the prize took place during the UIA General Assembly in 2003.

Details for Thesis Prize

Question: Is this a one-time competition or will it be an annual award?
Answer: 2000 was the first year of the competition. The UIA Council has initiated a second competition in 2002 but has not made a decision concerning periodicty. Depending on the response and the results, the UIA Council will make a decision about future competitions or a competition schedule. Check these pages for information.

Question: What is the procedure for taking part in this competition?
Answer: See the "Details" section below.

Question: Does "upheld" mean "defended" in the North American university context?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Which theses are eligible?
Answer: Theses which were defended in 2001 and prior to 30 Nov 2002 are eligible. Thus, you may send us information (as below) on a "work in progress" provided it meets the 30 Nov 2002 defense deadline.

Question: I've been notified by the UIA that I need to send my manuscript, what should I do?
Answer: Manuscripts in either English or French should be submitted in triplicate to the UIA or on floppy diskette in Word 6.0 or RTF file format. E-mail submissions are also welcome.

Question: What is the UIA ?
Answer: See our profile and early history via these links.

Question: Who won the first / 2000 competition?
Answer: See this page.

Question: Are there publishing opportunities related to this competition?
Answer: The UIA has a long history of publishing materials on the study of INGOs and IGOs. The UIA Council has not made any decisions about publishing projects related to this competition. All persons are welcome to submit materials for consideration by the editor of our journal, Transnational Associations. Click here for submission guidelines.

What is the process for taking part in the competition?

  1. Send a short note to the UIA outlining the areas of research for your faculty-approved thesis topic. By email, or by fax (+32 2 643.61.99) or by postal mail (UIA, 40 rue Washington, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium). This should be received at the UIA no later than 30 Nov 2002.
  2. The UIA Council will review all submissions. The UIA will then notify candidates whose theses have been approved for the competition.
  3. Candidates who have been notified by the UIA that they have been selected for the competition will then need to send a complete manuscript on floppy disk, via email or on paper in triplicate (details above) for review for the award.

UIA Thesis Prize Winners

En mai 1999, le Conseil de l'Union des associations internationales décida de créer un prix international de 6.000 euros à attribuer à une thèse de doctorat sur un sujet touchant à l'histoire, à la vie, au fonctionnement ou à l'action des organisations internationales non gouvernementales.

Un jury fut créé à cet effet, composé de Stephen Toulmin (University of Southern California), Philip Everts (Instituut voor Internationale Studiën, Amsterdam) et Paul Ghils (Haute Ecole de Bruxelles). Celui-ci effectua la sélection finale des meilleures thèses à partir de la synthèse des classements individuels effectués par chacun de ses membres sur la base de critères évaluant l'originalité, la qualité académique, la richesse des données empiriques recuellies et analysées et la pertinence des sujets traités dans le cadre des recherches de l'UAI.

Après une première sélection réalisée par l'UAI en fonction de critères vérifiant la conformité des 28 thèses soumises à l'UAI aux conditions énoncées dans l'annonce du prix, le Jury aboutit au classement final suivant, qui place les deux premières thèses ex aequo :

  1. a) Greens in the greenhouse: environmental NGOs, norms and the politics of global climate change, by Michele Betsill (College of Liberal Arts, Colorado State University)
    b) Transnationalité, "engagement humanitaire", politiques publiques: interaction entre les activités des organisations non gouvernementales
  2. (ONG) et la mise en oeuvre de l'action publique des Etats - L'exemple du Guatemala, par Nathalie Affre (Institut de sciences politiques, Université Aix-Marseille III)
  3. The making of NGOs: global influences and local responses from Western India, by Alnoor Ebrahim (Stanford University)
  4. The negociable desert. Expert knowledge in the negotiations of the Convention to Combat Desertification, by Elizabeth Cornell (Dpt of Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping University, Suède)
  5. Exploring patterns of interest group collaboration: environmental interests at the European level, by Ruth Webster (School of Public Administration and Law, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen)
  6. Desire for development: the education of white women as development workers, by Deborah Heron (Dpt of Sociology and Equity Studies, Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto)

La formation de la norme juridique dans le cadre environnemental

La thèse de Michele Merrill Betsill, Greens in the greenhouse: Environmental NGO’s, norms and the politics of global climate change.

This thesis is a case study of the role and contribution of international NGO’s in the development of international norms. It focuses on the evolution of norms for state conduct in connection with the problem of global warning. It covers international negotiations in three settings in the period 1988-1997 and draws a number of conclusions concerning the conditions, opportunities and constraints of NGO influence. The objective being to define an evolutionary, constructivist perspective offering a better explanation of norm development rather than a neo-realism or an interest-based approach.

The study carefully analyses, on the basis of existing literature and available data, the conditions of influence and the reasons why Environmental NGO’s can and are effective in helping to shape norms in some situations while being ineffective in others. It argues persuasively, by empirically reconstructing the processes of international negociations and meetings, on how NGO influence is shaped and conditioned by both the institutional setting and the ideational context This scheme of analysis brings to a model of analysis which could usefully be applied, as shown by the author, to other cases of international norm development

The emergence of a new international norm, however, is not unproblematic, if we consider that for every new norm that is created, there are a number of other norms which do not draw the attention of decision makers. The merit of Michle Betsill's study is to draw on an evolutionary perspective to norm formation, to show that international norms develop through a political process involving state as well as non-state actors, where material forces influence, but do not determine, which norms will prevail. This approach challenges in a very relevant way the conventional models of international relations, which focus on interstate relations, and shows through an impressive body of data that the process of norm formation is contingent on the way issues are frames in world politics as well as the institutional setting in which norm emergence occurs.

L'humanitaire et l'action publique des Etats

Nathalie Affre a abordé la question difficile de la relation entre l'action humanitaire des ONG et la mise en oeuvre de l'action publique des Etats, en la rapportant à l'affirmation de plus en plus forte du caractère transnational des relations internationales.

Sans doute cette problématique n'est-elle pas ou n'est-elle plus entièrement nouvelle, qui pose l'interaction entre les différentes classes d'acteurs, et qui montre l'interdépendance entre le monde clairement repérable des relations liant les Etats et le monde plus insaisissable, multicentré mais proprement transnational des associations internationales et de leur action.

L'originalité de la thèse de Nathalie Affre consiste cependant à explorer un domaine neuf au départ d'un travail empirique qui constitue une véritable sociologie politique des ONG située dans un cadre de plus en plus mondialisé et transnationalisé.

La méthode établie par Mme Affre, qui conjoint la saisie théorique du sujet et l'analyse des données empiriques auparavant collectées, et qui donc confronte la singularité de l'action non gouvernementale et la généralité, voire l'universalité de sa signification, permet notamment de dépasser quelques dichotomies faciles entre l'étatique et le non-étatique. Car en adoptant cette démarche, l'auteur montre le caractère inexorablement hybride de l'acteur ONG, associé à l'effacement de frontières clairement marquées entre le public et le privé. Et si l'identité du monde associatif semble souffrir quelque peu du caractère poreux des frontières qui le sépare du monde des Etats, elle s'enrichit d'une nouvelle efficacité, en ce que les ONG jouent adoptent le role innovateur de médiateurs entre les mondes étatique et associatif. Il y a là, semble-t-il, l'élément essentiel de la création de cet espace public international et transnational, qui ne saurait se développer sans ce dialogue essentiel. Avec, bien entendu, comme le remarque l'auteur de cette étude, toutes les incertitudes qu'engendre l'engagement humain, l'investissement humanitaire fondé sur l'action des ONG mais aussi des personnes, et dont la cartographie ne saurait avoir la clarté des schémas de la géopolitique mondiale. D'où la nécessité d'une "déconstruction" des politiques publiques et de coopération, et la "construction" d'une citoyenneté mondiale.

Mais c'est là un aute mérite du travail de Nathalie Affre et non des moindres, qui est de montrer le rôle essentiel mais complexe, polymorhe mais raisonnable d'une catégorie d'acteurs qui relativise par le retour de l'humain - soit ici l'engagement humanitaire - la dimension parfois trop rationnelle de la science politique. La leçon finale de cette enquête, s'il y en a une, est peut-être alors de montrer que la transnationalité en acte signifie le retour d'une certaine forme d'humanisme dans le monde des relations internationales, et par là d'une voie originale de la modernité.

Thesis Prize related competitions

The Aspen Institute Nonprofit Sector Research Fund (NSRF) made available grants for support of doctoral dissertation research focused on the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, including hospitals, universities, human service agencies, arts organizations, advocacy groups, and other tax-exempt entities. Studies could focus on philanthropic and nonprofit activities in the USA or other countries. NSRF awarded grants up to $20,000.

Dorothy Schramm World Affairs Student Writing Competition - sponsored by Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, in conjunction with the University of Iowa College of Law International and Comparative Law Program.

International Studies Association Awards: a number of different awards at different academic levels (undergraduate / graduate / post-grad).

American Political Science Association Awards: a number of different awards.

Annual OPANAL Prize for the Best Thesis Submitted by Alumni of the Universities of the Member States and other Interested Parties States: To recognize and encourage students to research and prepare thesis projects at the undergraduate and graduate level on the important topic of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and its influence in the creation of future Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones as well as topics surrounding International Law.

European Volunteering Research Award: sponsored by the Institute for Volunteering Research (UK); given annually for a research paper or dissertation on volunteering carried out in the three calendar years preceeding the award year.

Virginia A. Hodgkinson Research Prize presented by Independent Sector; given annually to "recognize outstanding published research that furthers our understanding of philanthropy, voluntary action, nonprofits and civil society in either the United States or abroad".