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Research Handbook on the Theory and History of International Law

Research Handbook on the Theory and History of International Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Alexander Orakhelashvili

This pioneering Research Handbook, with contributions from renowned experts, provides a comprehensive scholarly framework for analyzing the theory and history of international law. Given the multiplication of theoretical approaches over the last three decades, and attendant fragmentation of scholarly efforts, this edited collection presents a useful doctrinal platform that will help academics and students to see the theory and history of international law in its entirety, and to understand how interdependent various aspects of the theory and history of international law really are.

Chapter 16: International Law between Universality and Regional Fragmentation. The Historical Case of Russia

Lauri Mälksoo

Subjects: law - academic, public international law


Lauri Mälksoo* 16.1 INTRODUCTION Russia’s role in the history of international law has not yet become subject to extensive critical scrutinies. What do I mean by saying ‘critical’ scrutinies? My impression is that the historical work done on Russia’s or Russian scholars’ role in international law tends to be quite Eurocentric. The Eurocentrism comes in two versions: the Western European one and, perhaps surprisingly, the Russian one. The Western European version tends to marginalize or even stay relatively silent on any major independent Russian role in the history of international law. For example, when Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) wrote his Der Nomos der Erde1, the historical case of Russia would have enabled him to make an even more extensive argument in terms of the history and geography of colonization. Schmitt’s point was that ius publicum europaeum or the ‘European law of nations’ (as the ‘classical international law’ was often called in Europe) flourished especially because it was created to organize and control the European colonization of the world. Yet if Schmitt had included the history of the Russian colonization of Siberia, the Caucasus and Central Asia, he could have demonstrated that the normative language of Christian mission civilisatrice was at work not only in overseas colonization but also in conquering vast adjacent land masses in Asia.2 If Schmitt had taken this phenomenon into account, he could have changed emphases in the overall evaluation of the historical process. How does the Eurocentric approach result in the marginalization of Russia in...

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