Postdoc researcher: The United Nations as a Dynamic Globalizing Force

Postdoc researcher: The United Nations as a Dynamic Globalizing Force

Published Deadline Location
6 May 31 May Leiden

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As per September 1, 2020, the Institute for History of Leiden University will appoint a Postdoc researcher: The United Nations as a Dynamic Globalizing Force

Job description

The main aim of this project is to reveal and unravel the invisible histories of the UN, transcending the dominant Western perspective to recover the historical agency of Global South actors. The research will investigate how the UN has both facilitated and limited their role in shaping global order. This will be an important contribution to current debates about UN reform and assessments of its performance, safeguarding against further marginalization of these actors. Within this overarching project, a 4,5 year postdoc position is available: The United Nation as a Dynamic Globalizing Force

The Postdoc will develop two parts of the main project. The first, essential to the overall research project, is a categorization of changes to the UN, keeping track of what structural, methodological and institutional changes were produced in the years under study. The second is a research element which analyzes the reception of Global South initiatives in Britain, France, Germany and the United States which is important to show how changes to the UN were perceived and what were the reactions to, and the success and failures of, efforts to alter political dynamics and redefine norms relating to decolonization (especially questions of contested sovereignty), economic sovereignty and human rights (especially the advancement of economic and social rights).

Key responsibilities

  • Conducting research on the history of the United Nations in the areas of decolonization, economic sovereignty and human rights – especially economic and social rights;
  • Writing 3 peer-reviewed articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals;
  • Co-organizing one of the workshops envisioned within the project and assisting with the publication of a Special Issue or Edited Volume arising from the workshop;
  •  Managing the production of the podcast arising from the project;
  • Contributing actively to the project as a whole (e.g. serving as a peer reviewer for other team members, running the project website);
  • Contributing to the program of the Chair in United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice.


Leiden University


The candidate should be finished or near the end of their PhD (preferably with an agreed defence date) on a related area of international history with a focus on the UN. The candidate should have familiarity with the literature on decolonization, economic sovereignty, human rights, and international organizations, including knowledge of relevant literature in law and political science. The candidate should also have familiarity working with American, British and UN archives and be able to substantively engage with non-Anglophone literature on international organizations, especially in French, German, Italian and Spanish. Additional language expertise is considered an advantage.

  • PhD degree, preferably in the history of international relations, decolonization, and/or the United Nations;
  • One or more relevant publications (journal articles, book chapters);
  • Broad familiarity with the field of diplomatic history;
  • Fluency in English;
  • Fluency or excellent skills in French, German, Spanish, Italian or some selection of these;
  • Excellent writing skills;
  • Proven ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • Proven ability to work in an international and highly competitive environment.

Conditions of employment

The successful applicant will receive an 4,5 year, non-renewable contract. The salary depending on qualifications and experience, the gross monthly salary is €2,709 to €4,978 (scale 10 t0 11 in accordance with the collective salary agreement of the Association of Dutch Universities) and for a full working week. Leiden University also offers and annual holiday premium of 8% and an end-of-year premium of 8.3%.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Leiden University

The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics, international studies and area studies, covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 930, the faculty provides 27 masters and 25 bachelors programmes for over 6,000 students based at locations in Leiden and in The Hague. This position is part of the research agenda of the Chair in United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice located at the Institute for Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University in The Hague.

The majority of member-states of the UN identify as members of the Global South. This is a taxonomy that goes beyond a geographical location. It encapsulates how shared agendas led to a sense of solidarity between peoples and states in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The term Global South, rather than Developing World or Third World, is employed to capture both the state, non-state and regional actors who formed part of the movement, not all of whom were located in the Global South. Over time, these actors brought their problems to the UN, in the belief that the organization could provide tangible solutions to global challenges. However, the existing historiography of the UN is largely from the perspective of Western actors, and tends to ignore or downplay the role of Global South actors. These histories enhance the image of the organization as a passive entity and a vehicle for the interests of Western powers such as Britain, France and the United States (US). The liberal world order is presented here as the rules-based system led by the US since 1945 which established an unequal relationship between North and South. This has created the current situation where the UN is broadly misunderstood and the agency of Global South actors has been rendered largely invisible.


  • Postdoc
  • Language and culture
  • Doctorate
  • 20-204



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