David Macfadyen, Michael D.V. Davies, Marilyn Carr and John Burley, Eric Drummond and his Legacies: the League of Nations and the Beginnings of Global Governance (Palgrave Macmillian, 2019).


The League of Nations was constituted a century ago by the adoption of a Covenant that explicitly named ‘The Hon. Sir James Eric Drummond, KCMG, CB’ as the first Secretary-General. Part 1 of this book gives an account of Drummond’s life and character and concludes that he stands in the front rank of the twelve men appointed to the office of Secretary-General. It shows the influence of his character in shaping the International Secretariat. Part 2 describes the genesis and development of the International Secretariat. This was the body that stepped forward immediately to begin implementing the Covenant. It was League’s one permanent organ and operated without the oversight of a governing body for the first nine months of its existence; moreover, a further nine months elapsed before the first meeting of the Assembly of the League’s member states. During these eighteen months — from May 1919 to October 1920 – the International Secretariat was housed in London. Drummond’s first recruits to the International Secretariat in these London years were in the main young, and many had worked together transnationally in the war.

The book includes pen-portraits of members of this nascent Secretariat and shows how their creativity and imagination allowed the League to respond to the political, economic and social problems of the post-war era. Part 3 shows the influence of early origins on today’s global organizations and the endurance of many of the structures and functions of international cooperation established under Drummond. It concludes that the League’s legacy on global governance is much more significant than generally understood.

The book is based on research in the Geneva archives of the League, UK archives containing the papers of Drummond’s senior staff and, for the first time, private papers of the Drummond family.

About the Authors
David Macfadyen is Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, UK, and has worked at a senior level in the World Health Organization (WHO). His research interests include the History of Medicine, which he has studied at the University of Glasgow, UK.

Michael Davies is a former staff member of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Inter-American Development Bank. He is the author of International Organizations: A Companion and The Administration of International Organizations.

Marilyn Carr has worked for the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the UN Development Fund for Women. She studied Development Economics at the University of Sussex, UK, and is the author of many books and articles on science, technology and women’s economic empowerment.

John Burley was an economic adviser to the Government of Uganda before working for the UN, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP). He was a Director at the UN Conference for Trade and Development and has contributed to a number of published studies of the UN system.