Legal Encounter: International Law and Empire, Yesterday and Today
Also available in Deutsch
On April 20, 2011, Prof Martti Koskenniemi, professor at the University of Helsinki, held a lecture entitled "international law and empire". The lecture took place in the context of the “Legal Encounter” series of lectures, based on a cooperation between the Institute of Law (IoL) at Birzeit University and the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) Ramallah.
Professor Koskenniemi introduced his new research on “international law and empire”, which is a continuation of his publication entitled “The Gentle Civilizer of Nations. The Rise and Fall of International law 1870-1960”. Koskenniemi gave a review of six hundred years of European colonization. He explained, how for centuries, international law has been used to justify, civilise and sometimes to limit the imperial ambitions of the powerful international actors.
Many of the thinkers known as founders of modern liberal international law – including i.e. Francisco de Vitoria, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Emer de Vattel – developed doctrines and theories that helped in the expansion of empire and justified the acquisition of non-European territory by Europeans and organized the relations between the European settlers and the indigenous populations.
Koskenniemi is one of the most prominent scientist in international law today. He is well known for his critical approach to international law. Currently he is Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki and has been Global Professor of Law at New York University. He was Chairman of the International Law commission Study Group on the Fragmentation of International law’. He acted as counsel in proceedings before the ICJ and as expert for various international organizations.
Palestinian Territories, April 21, 2011