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International Law and the Far Right: Reflections on Law and Cynicism - Fourth Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture
Series: Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture Series

November 2019 Author: Prof Martti Koskenniemi, Professor of International Law, University of Helsinki, Finland; Hauser Global Professor of Law, New York University School of Law, USA



  • Published: November 2019
  • Pages: x + 54 pp.
  • Publisher: T.M.C. ASSER PRESS
  • Distributor: T.M.C. Asser Press
  • ISBN: 978-90-6704-360-1

Martti Koskenniemi on International Law and the Far Right: Reflections on Law and Cynicism, delivered by him as the Fourth Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture in November 2018 in the Peace Palace in The Hague:

"Since the emergence of the profession in the 1870s, international lawyers have lent themselves to supporting various political projects, from ruling of empire to decolonisation, from supporting national self-determination to arguing in favour of global governance of the transnational economy. They have celebrated sovereignty and supported human rights.

The recent backlash against global rule and the international institutions of the liberal 1990s, should be viewed as a political attack from a relatively privileged part of the world on the system of values and distributive power that have governed post-1968 internationalism. This backlash is often treated as a social pathology, arisen from the anger felt by European and American middle classes “left behind” by globalisation.
I do not share this analysis. Whatever the social composition of the “backlash”, the policies of its leaders are neither reformist nor “conservative”. They are reactionary, and the question is, how to devise an effective policy to counter them.

The coming struggle will be about whether reactionary, colonialist, white and male supremacist values will play a role in the international world after globalisation. If international law is not to become a servant to far right policies, or fall into irrelevance, it had better sharpen its strategic insights. Alongside self-criticism, this involves taking a break from the interminable production of minor reforms. Greater openness is needed. Not to “populist” leaders, but to problems of global inequality."

The lecture held by Martti Koskenniemi is published as a book in the Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture Series

Download the full text of the Fourth Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture below or order the printed version at at EUR 10,00 excl. p&p.

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