Professor Koskenniemi: International Law and the Far Right


Earlier this month, Professor Martti Koskenniemi gave a riveting Lecture on the topic of International Law and the Far Right. The event was part of the Annual Lecture Series by the T.M.C. Asser Institute. In his speech, Prof. Koskenniemi argued that the far right as a movement should be taken more seriously by international lawyers. In this regard, we need to make a clear distinction between two aspects of this movement. First, a legitimate protest against issues that international lawyers need to understand better than we do today and secondly, the manipulation by the far right of these legitimate feelings.

Prof. Koskenniemi asks us how we can engage with the legitimate basis of this protest without getting trapped into the far right rhetoric of racism and xenophobia.

According to Prof. Koskenniemi, economic deprivation is not the main cause for the backlash, explaining that people are not left behind, but they feel culturally defeated. This problem is not to be cured by more economic reform or other reforms. ‘It is about anxiety, not justified anger. It’s specifically about the loss of white male privilege and the emergence of a new cultural and political hierarchy where people who support the far right, believe they are now at the bottom. Prof. Koskenniemi’s argues that International Law will need to change its strategy. This lecture has been made available online by the Asser Institute. Please see the link below to watch the video in its entirety.