International Law

International law is an umbrella discipline that comprises such topics as international human rights law, law of the sea, international environmental law, the law of international organizations, foreign relations laws, e.g. the law of diplomatic and consular relations, humanitarian law, international trade law, and international criminal law.

Traditionally, the discipline of international law was classified under public law as it governs the relations between states. Today, however, the discipline of international law attests to the withering away of the strictest public/private distinction in legal science through its sub-disciplines, e.g. human rights law, humanitarian law, and international trade law, in which the rules also govern the relationships between private parties, individuals, and/or public entities.

In the course of the recent decades, the classical and positivist international law discipline has been enriched through the emergence of multidisciplinary approaches; political science, international relations studies, economics, and other disciplines have influenced the discipline under the banner of New Approaches to International Law. Simultaneously, international law has struggled to distance itself from an exclusively Western and Eurocentric heritage. Feminist and post-colonial approaches, in particular, have taken an important role in the development of the discipline.

The basic courses of international law cover the doctrinal corpus (concepts, rules and sources), which are studied further in the specialized and advanced courses. Studies at the latter levels can focus on, e.g. one of the above-mentioned sub-fields, international legal theory, or a set of doctrines. The on-going research in the discipline covers a number of issues such as general international law, critical theory in international law, international legal methodology, state and democracy building, and the regulation of international conflicts and conflict cycles.

Due to the international character of the discipline, it should be noted that a large part of the research literature in the field cannot be accessed in Finnish or Swedish. Similarly, international research co-operation with Nordic, European, American, Australian, Middle Eastern as well as African and other international partners plays an important role alongside national research networks.