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Finnish law professor to present lecture on international law history

29 April 2019

Finnish law Professor, Martti Koskenniemi delivered the annual Borrin Lecture at the Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law this week.

Titled ‘History of the Law of Nations: Sovereignty and Property’, the lecture explored the history of international law in the context of the expansion of European power. Professor Koskenniemi  argue that to fully understand international law, a wider notion of the concept is required that focuses not simply on sovereign power - war and diplomacy - but also on the relationship between sovereignty and private property rights.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law Professor Mark Hickford says the lecture was a rare opportunity for Wellington’s legal community to hear a European perspective on the complex forces that have shaped today’s international law landscape.

“Professor Koskenniemi is a very highly regarded scholar and we are excited to host him for this year’s Borrin Lecture.

“I very much look forward to hearing his insights on the history of international law, which I’m sure will shed light on the complex interplay of power, sovereignty, and private ownership in today’s world,” he says.

Professor Koskenniemi is Academy Professor and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki, a Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School, and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has held visiting professorships at New York University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Utrecht, Columbia University, the University of São Paulo, the University of Toronto, and the Universities of Paris I, II, X and XVI.

He was a member of the Finnish diplomatic service from 1978 to 1994 and of the International Law Commission (UN) from 2002 to 2006. His publications include From Apology to Utopia: The Structure of International Legal Argument (1989), The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (2001), The Politics of International Law (2011), and The Cambridge Companion to International Law (2012, co-edited with Professor James Crawford). He is a graduate of the Universities of Turku and Oxford, and holds the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa from the Universities of Uppsala and Frankfurt.

The Borrin Lecture is delivered in honour of the late Judge Ian Borrin, a Victoria University of Wellington alumnus and major supporter of the University’s Law Review. Before his death in 2016, he established the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation to support legal research, scholarship, writing and education in New Zealand.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019