Martti Koskenniemi

Martti Koskenniemi (born 1953), Centennial Professor at LSE.

His other assignments include Academy Professor at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights. He was a member of the Finnish diplomatic service in 1978-1994 and of the International Law Commission (UN) in 2002-2006. He has held visiting professorships in, among other places, New York University, Columbia University, University of Cambridge, University of Sao Paulo, University of Toronto, University of Utrecht and the Universities of Paris I, II, X and XVI. His has a doctorate h.c. from the Universities of Uppsala and Frankfurt. His main publications include From Apology to Utopia; The Structure of International Legal Argument (1989/2005), The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (2001) and The Politics of International Law (2011).


Research Interests

Martti Koskenniemi is currently working on a history of international legal thought from the late medieval period to the 19th century.


The Politics of International Law (Oxford, Hart 2011)

Today international law is everywhere. Wars are fought and opposed in its name. It is invoked to claim rights and to challenge them, to indict or support political leaders, to distribute resources and to expand or limit the powers of domestic and international institutions. International law is part of the way political (and economic) power is used, critiqued, and sometimes limited. Despite its claim for neutrality and impartiality, it is implicit in what is just, as well as what is unjust in the world. To understand its operation requires shedding its ideological spell and examining it with a cold eye. Who are its winners, and who are its losers? How - if at all - can it be used to make a better or a less unjust world? In this collection of essays Professor Martti Koskenniemi, a well-known practitioner and a leading theorist and historian of international law, examines the recent debates on humanitarian intervention, collective security, protection of human rights and the 'fight against impunity' and reflects on the use of the professional techniques of international law to intervene politically. The essays both illustrate and expand his influential theory of the role of international law in international politics. The book is prefaced with an introduction by Professor Emmanuelle Jouannet (Sorbonne Law School), which locates the texts in the overall thought and work of Martti Koskenniemi.

The Cambridge Companion to International Law, co-edited with James Crawford (Cambridge, 2011)

This intellectually rigorous introduction to international law encourages readers to engage with multiple aspects of the topic: as 'law' directing and shaping its subjects; as a technique for governing the world of states and beyond statehood; and as a framework within which several critical and constructivist projects are articulated. The articles situate international law in its historical and ideological context and examine core concepts such as sovereignty, jurisdiction and the state. Attention is also given to its operation within international institutions and in dispute settlement, and a separate section is devoted to international law's 'projects': protecting human rights, eradicating poverty, the conservation of resources, the regulation of international trade and investment and the establishment of international order. The diverse group of contributors draws from disciplinary orientations ranging from positivism to postmodernism to ensure that this book is informed theoretically and politically, as well as grounded in practice.

Selected articles / chapters in books

“La fragmentation du droit international” (with Anne-Charlotte Martineau), in Monique David-Ménard (réd), Chaos (Paris, Hermann, 2013), 51-74;  


“The Public Law of Europe: Reflections on a French 18th Century Debate”, in Helena Lindemann et al (eds), Erzählungen vom Konstitutionalismus (Baden-Baden, Nomos 2012), 43-73;


“Law, Teleology and International Relations: An Essay in Counter-disciplinarity”, 26 International Relations (2012),  3-34;


 “A History of International Law Histories”, in Bardo Fassbender & Anne Peters (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law (Oxford University Press 2012),  943-971;


 “Ius Gentium and the Birth of Modernity”, in Luigi Nuzzo & Milos Vec, Constructing International Law: The Birth of a Discipline (Frankfurt, Klostermann 2012),  3-24; 


 “Projects of World Community”, in Antonio Cassese (ed), Realizing Utopia (Oxford University Press, 2011), 3-13;


“The Case for Comparative International Law”, 20 Finnish Yearbook of International Law, (2011), 1-8.


“Hegemonic Regimes”, in Margaret Young (ed), Regime Interaction in International Law. Facing Fragmentation (Cambridge University Press 2011), 305-324;


“The Mystery of Legal Obligation”, 3 International Theory (2011), 319-325;


“International Law in the World of Ideas” , in Crawford & Koskenniemi, The Cambridge Companion (above. n. 2), 47-63; 


“The Political Theology of Trade Law: the Scholastic Contribution”, in Ulrich Fastenrath et al (ed), From Bilateralism to Community Interest. Essays in Honour of Judge Bruno Simma (Oxford University press 2011), 90-112;


“Histories of International Law: Dealing with Eurocentrism”, 19 Rechtsgeschichte (2011), 152-176;


“International Community from Dante to Vattel’, in Vincent Chetail (ed),  Vattel’s International law from a XXI Century Perspective (Leiden, Brill 2011), 49-74;


 “Empire and International Law: The Real Spanish Contribution”, 61 University of Toronto Law Journal (2011), 1-36.


“Vocabularies of Sovereignty – Powers of a Paradox’, in Q. Skinner & Hent Kalmo (eds), Sovereignty in Fragments (Cambridge University Press 2011), 222-242 ;


“Between Coordination and Constitution: International Law as German Discipline”,  14 Redescriptions. Yearbook of Political Thought and Conceptual History (2011), 47-72; 


“What Use for Sovereignty Today?”, 1 Asian Jopurnal of International law (2011), 61-70;


“Colonization of the ‘Indies’: The Origin of International Law?”, in Yalanda Gamarra (ed), La idea de la América en el pensamiento ius internacionalista del siglo XXI (Zaragoza, Institución Fernando el Católico, 2010),  43-63


“International Law and Raison d’état: Rethinking the Prehistory of International Law’, Benedict Kingsbury & Benjamin Straumann, The Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations: Alberico Gentili and the Justice of Empire (Oxford University Press 2010), 297-339;


“Human Rights Mainstreaming as a Strategy for Institutional Power”, 1 Humanity. An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development (2010), 47-58; 


“The Turn to Ethics in International Law”, Thesaurus Acroasiarum Vol XXXIII (K. Koufa ed, Athens, Sakkoulas 2010), 375-394;


“Curso de Problemas Fundamentales: The Politics of International Law”, VIII-IX, Cursos Euromedterraneos Bancaja de Derecho Internacional (2004/2005, 2009), 51-165;


“The Function of Law in the International Community: 75 Years After”,  British Year Book of International Law (2008), 353-366;


“Miserable Comforters. International Relations as a New Natural Law”, 15 European Journal of International Relations (2009), 395-422;


“Legal Fragmentation(s). An Essay on Fluidity and Form” Graf-Peter Calliess, Andreas Fischer-Lescano, Dan Wielsch & Peer Zumbansen, Soziologische Jurisprudenz. Festschrift für Gunther Teubner (Berlin, De Gruyter 2009), 795-810;


“The Politics of International Law. Twenty Years Later” 20 European Journal of International Law (2009), 7-19.


“The Legacy of the Nineteenth Century”, in David Armstrong (ed.), Routledge Handbook of International Law (New York, Routledge 2009), 141-153;


“The Advantage of Treaties. International Law in the Enlightenment”, 13 The Edinburgh Law Review (2009), 27-67;


‘Formalismus, Fragmentierung, Freiheit – Kantische Themen im heutigen Völkerrecht’, Regina Kreide & Andreas Niederberger (Hg.), Transnationale Verrechtlichung (Frankfurt, Campus 2008), 65-89;


“The Ideology of International Adjudication and the 1907 Hague Conference” in  Yves Daudet (ed), Topicality of the 1907 Hague Conference, the Second Peace Conference/Actualité de la Conférence de La Haye de 1907, Deuxième Conférence de la paix (The Hague, Brill, 2008), 127-152;


“Occupation and Sovereignty – Still a Useful Distinction” in O. Engdahl and P. Wrange (eds.), Law at War – The Law as it was and the Law as it Should Be (The Hague, Brill, 2008), 163-174


‘International Lawyers’, P. Cane & Joanne Conaghan (eds), The New Oxford Companion to Law (Oxford University Press 2008), 619-621.


“Into Positivism: Georg Friedrich von Martens (1756-1821) and Modern International Law” in 15 Constellations. An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory (2008), 189-207;


“Occupied Zone – A Zone of Reasonableness?” 41 Israeli Law Review (2008), 13-40;