An example
of how the UN spreads norms is through UNESCO. From the 1950s, both UNESCO and
the OECD actively promoted science policy innovation among UN member states –
even those without the desire or resources to create their own science policy
organisations (Finnemore, 1993: 576). Sewell writes that UNESCO’s interest in
spreading these norms came about after the science community demonstrated their
ability to influence global affairs at Hiroshima (Sewell, 1975: 241). UNESCO
felt the need to keep the science community under a close watch out of fear for
what they could do next, stating: “it is important that they should be linked
closely with the humanities and UNESCO” (UNESCO, 1946: 24). UNESCO declared
“states should make it their business
to coordinate and direct science” (Auger, 1963: 220) and that their promotion
of science norms “is formulated on the basis of the principle that the planning
of science policy is indispensable”
(UNESCO, 1966: 1). The language used by UNESCO implicitly made science policy a
norm, thus states began to look for ways to improve their research and
development. UNESCO maintained that they would keep a passive role in aiding states
in improving and expanding their science development, however their actions can
be seen as anything but passive.


A suitable case that highlights the power
of the UN and its agencies in spreading norms is Lebanon. UNESCO achieved great
success in imposing its beliefs regarding science development in the Middle
Eastern state, later becoming a model for future UNESCO norm-spreading

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 A more
detailed examination of the Lebanese case reveals the extent of UNESCO’s
influence on the construction of a science bureaucracy there. UNESCO officials
did not just sit on the sidelines and make suggestions the head of the UNESCO
Natural Sciences Department actually drafted the enabling legislation for the new
bureaucracy, while other members of the secretariat staff lobbied relevant
Lebanese politicians to get it passed. In so doing they squelched a conflict in
Lebanese proposal for the new bureaucracy which they considered inappropriate
and inadequate.

A report carried out by UNESCO’s Middle
Eastern office in Cairo publicised that Lebanese research lacked any practical orientation
and that coordination of research was almost non-existent. This prompted the scientific
secretary to the director of the UNESCO Natural Sciences Department, Yvan de
Hemptinne, to send a team of experts to Lebanon to help establish a science
policy body – without Lebanon’s request. This caused some disputes, which were
swiftly solved when René Maheu, the Director-General of UNESCO, mediated a
discussion with the President of Lebanon who agreed to set up a science
research council. This is a clear case of the UN not just spreading, but rather
imposing norms upon states. de Hemptinne immediately began composing a draft
legislation for the council which included some arguably strict rules: the organisation
of research in any scientific discipline must be centralised under the council;
the council was under no condition allowed to run any kind of laboratory or
research facility itself (Finnemore, 1994: 588). In the meantime, Lebanon had
set up its own scientific commission to aid in setting up the new council, and
had their own ideas for the council that differed from de Hemptinne’s plans.

Once again, higher UNESCO authorities were called in to solve a dispute with
the Lebanese commission, and de Hemptinne was able to submit a draft
legislation proposal to the Lebanese Parliament. These actions strengthen
Sills’ argument that the UN uses “an array of methods to
facilitate…regulate…and influence state behaviour” (Sills, 2002: 2). These
methods included UNESCO officials lobbying members of the Lebanese parliament
to consider their proposal over the state commission’s proposal. While this may
be seen as overstepping the boundaries from a supposedly passive organisation,
the UN were determined to make Lebanon the first of many states to succumb to
the pressure and follow their standards and rules. The lobbying paid off, as
the UNESCO proposal for a Lebanese Scientific Research Council was unanimously
approved in parliament. Despite the success and establishment of the Council,
UNESCO continued to play a heavy role and regularly sent experts to Lebanon to
conduct reviews to ensure the Council was headed in the direction they desired.

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