Professor Martti Koskenniemi has been called the leading international lawyer of his generation. He has almost single-handedly changed the way international lawyers perceive their discipline by writing two path-breaking books, and scores of influential articles. At the occasion of his retirement, his colleagues, family and students wish to honour him and his work by commissioning a work of art, to commemorate Koskenniemi’s unique contribution to his discipline.
Following a career in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign affairs, with highlights including the negotiation of the monumental UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and a posting at the Finnish mission to the UN at New York just when the Cold War came to an end and the UN acted harmoniously in the wake of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Koskenniemi moved full-time to the academic world and took up the international law chair at the University of Helsinki in 1996.
His work From Apology to Utopia: The Structure of International Legal Argument made a lasting impression in the discipline of international law, offering radically new answers to questions that had plagued the discipline for centuries. In 2001, he published the award-winning treatise The Gentle Civilizer of Nations, launching what has been called a ‘historiographical turn’ in international legal scholarship. In addition, as the chairperson of the Study Group of the International Law Commission, he was a driving force in writing the influential report on the Fragmentation of International Law in 2006.
Professor Koskenniemi has been the founder and director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki, generally considered as one of the leading institutes worldwide in the field of international law. Further, he has been appointed Finnish Academy Professor twice, has co-directed an ERC-funded project and is a member of both the British and American Academies of Arts and Sciences – as well as the Finnish Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, he holds several honorary doctorates, and has been a Global Law Professor at New York University School of Law for over two decades. He has further held visiting appointments in a variety of leading law schools, including Cambridge, Melbourne and the London School of Economics. He has represented Finland before the International Court of Justice, and has been a member of the UN International Law Commission and the Administrative Tribunal of the Asian Development Bank.
Martti Koskenniemi has supervised numerous doctoral students over the world and has been a mentor to many other students and colleagues. But his most lasting legacy is through his work: young international lawyers all over the world may never have met him, but have been inspired by his writings, and have collectively come to think differently about international law.
News about the artwork
The collection period for donations has ended.
We warmly thank all contributors for their generous donations.
The artwork committee has chosen Jan Kenneth Weckman, a painter and graphic artist based in Turku, to design the artwork. An introduction to his approach and artwork can be found on his personal website.
The unveiling ceremony of the artwork is expected to take place in December 2022.