Martti Koskenniemi and the Spirit of the Beehive in International Law

Global Jurist, Vol. 10, 2010

40 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2010 Last revised: 24 Apr 2010

Date Written: March 1, 2010


The key-importance for the understanding of all his successive work that Koskenniemi ascribes to his 1989 seminal inquiry into the structure of the international legal argument justifies that this article opens with an explanation of the main theses of Koskenniemi’s pathbreaking From Apology to Utopia at the time of its re-issue with a new Epilogue. Its doctrinal emplacement as the book which “managed to convey to a wide audience the challenging, but hitherto rather mysterious message of CLS for international law” invites an inquiry into the internal dynamics of Koskenniemi’s disciplinary renovating impact as part of a critical international legal movement, the precedents and main characteristics of which, must be searched in the work of a number of international legal scholars in the 80s’. In further examining the author’s own deep introspective journey into the archetypes that nurture the international lawyer’s self-sustaining intellectual mythology, it is argued that Koskenniemi’s work champions a profoundly ethical-oriented awakening call addressed to his contemporary doctrinal counterparts. No discontinuity or rupture exists in Koskenniemi’s opus, no renunciation and less oblivion of the baggage of his 90s’ insights, but rather an evolving transference and application of them in connection to his so-doctrinally vaunted “culture of formalism”. In examining the latter by reference to a number of Koskenniemi’s essays, this appears to be both a consistent and realistically emancipatory perspective of international law when this is seen as a historically contingent ideological framework. An application of Koskenniemi’s interpretative lenses to the doctrinal divide brought about by the aftermath of 9/11 and the Iraq war and an examination of the current strengthening of an international constitutionalist debate in international legal doctrine gives way an assessment of the relationship between the critical Newstream’s epistemological and normative challenges to traditional international law and Koskenniemi’s defence of a philosophically inclusive emancipatory tool against the “managerialmindset” and the related risk of de-formalization brought about by the current evolution of international law towards IR grounded vocabularies.

Suggested Citation

de la Rasilla del Moral, Ignacio, Martti Koskenniemi and the Spirit of the Beehive in International Law (March 1, 2010). Global Jurist, Vol. 10, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Ignacio de la Rasilla del Moral (Contact Author)

Wuhan University - Institute of International Law ( email )


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