Lauri Mälksoo

was born in 1975 in Estonia. Since 2009, he is Professor of International Law at the University of Tartu and since 2013 Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, a think-tank. He is member of the executive board of the European Society of International Law since 2008 and organized ESIL’s 4th research forum in Tallinn in 2011. Since 2009, he is working on a grant sponsored by the European Research Council and dealing with the practice and theory of international law and human rights in contemporary Russia.


Research Project

International Law and Non-liberal States: the Doctrine and Application of International Law in the Russian Federation

My project relates to the A.-M. Slaughter-J. Alvarez debate in the European Journal of International Law on whether liberal States ‘behave better’ in the framework of international law. For a history-conscious international lawyer, this debate gave a déjà vu feeling because for example F.F. Martens (1845-1909), the foremost Russian international lawyer of the Tsarist period had expressed similar thoughts as A.M. Slaughter in her 1995 EJIL article. In the frameowork of my project, I will examine the Russian Federation as an example of a country where liberal ideas such as human rights, democracy and rule of law have been and are contested, and study the impact of this contestation on international legal ideas and practices in Russia. In particular, I will use the historical method that will enable to discuss the contestation of liberal ideas and its impact on international legal ideas and behavior in Russia and beyond, as they have dynamically evolved over time. In this sense, my project is also ‘constructivist’ – I am interested in how international law has been constructed in Russia and how the construction of international law has been connected to struggle about the rightness or wrongfulness of liberal ideas.