Global Governance Institute


Discriminatory Clubs: The Geopolitics of International Organisations

07 March 2023, 6:15 pm–7:30 pm

A white lady with long brown hair smiles into the camera. She is wearing a black and white check blazer and a small pair of pearl stud earrings

Professor Christina Davis talks about her new book 'Discriminatory Clubs', and argues that international organisations often act like social clubs.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Tom Pegram


Lecture Theatre G22
North-West Wing
Gower Street
United Kingdom


Discriminatory Clubs shows how international organizstions are like social clubs, ones in which institutional rules and informal practices enable states to favour friends while excluding rivals.

New data on membership provisions for over three hundred organisations shows the prevalence of club-style selection. Analysis of membership patterns demonstrates the significance of geopolitical alignment for when states apply, whether they are accepted, and the price of entry. From the WTO and OECD to regional organisations, alliance ties and similar foreign policy positions form the basis of co-operation. With case studies ranging from nineteenth-century Japan to contemporary Palestine and Taiwan, Discriminatory Clubssheds light on the discriminatory logic at the heart of multilateralism.


About the Speaker

Professor Christina Davis

at Harvard University

Professor Christina Davis is the Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics in the Department of Government and Director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University. She is the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her research interests include the politics and foreign policy of Japan, East Asia, and the European Union as well as the study of international organisations and trade policy. Her research has been published in leading political science journals. She is the author of Food Fights Over Free Trade: How International Institutions Promote Agricultural Trade Liberalization (Princeton University Press 2003), and Why Adjudicate? Enforcing Trade Rules in the WTO (Princeton University Press 2012, winner of the international law best book award of the International Studies Association, Ohira Memorial Prize, and co-winner of Chadwick Alger Prize). Her most recent book, Discriminatory Clubs: The Geopolitics of International Organizations, is forthcoming with Princeton University Press. She has several ongoing research projects on the evolving trade order. She graduated from Harvard College in 1993, received her PhD in government from Harvard in 2001, and returned to Harvard after 16 years as a professor at Princeton University.