Megan's doctoral dissertation traces ideas and practices of secrecy and publicity in the international legal order. This research focuses on the interwar years as a foundational period in which an expanding franchise, and the experience of industrialized warfare, gave impetus to new demands for publicity of diplomacy – but triggered in turn the modernization, reformulation and legitimation of a liberal secrecy regarding foreign relations which subsists today.
Megan addresses dynamics of secrecy and publicity in particular in diplomatic relations; the workings of League bodies dealing with mandates and minorities; the management of treaties; and disarmament and arms control. Her work draws on both public sources (press and parliamentary debates, contemporaneous scholarship in law, history and political science) but also the archives of the League of Nations Secretariat and of foreign ministries in Britain, France and the United States. Across these areas she traces how the regulation of secrecy moves in and out of juridical frames, found sometimes in political and bureaucratic custom, or diplomatic etiquette, but crystallized also in the public law of states, and built during the interwar years into early codifications of the law of treaties, diplomatic relations and international organizations.
Other work (with Benedict Kingsbury) has explored governance and law in contemporary international institutions, with a particular focus on transparency in international organizations; public law and constitutional values; and the use of languages of (public) law in global governance
Megan Donaldson (History of International Law, 2015) works on the history of international law and diplomacy. She is currently working on a book about the renegotiation of diplomatic secrecy from the late nineteenth century to the early Cold War.