The presentation will examine the raise and fall of human rights as a legal-political idiom. From a powerful claim to to protection, resources and participation, they seem to have turned into a bureaucratic vocabulary available for defending whatever interests or preferences a speaker wants to defend. But they may  still have strategic uses in some institutional contexts.

Martti Koskenniemi (born 1953) is Academy Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights. He was a member of the Finnish diplomatic service in 1978-1994 and of the International Law Commission (UN) in 2002-2006. He has held visiting professorships in, among other places, New York University, Columbia University, University of Cambridge, University of Sao Paulo, University of Toronto, University of Utrecht and the Universities of Paris I, II, X and XVI. He holds presently a Centennial Professorship at the London School of Economics. His has a doctorate h.c. from the Universities of Uppsala and Frankfurt. His main publications include From Apology to Utopia; The Structure of International Legal Argument (1989/2005), The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (2001)  and The Politics of International Law (2011).  He is currently working on a history of international legal thought from the late medieval period to the 19th century.

All are welcome, a drink reception will follow the talk.