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From Apology to Utopia
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  • Page extent: 704 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 1.2 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521838061 | ISBN-10: 0521838061)

This book presents a critical view of international law as an argumentative practice that aims to 'depoliticise' international relations. Drawing from a range of materials, Koskenniemi demonstrates how international law becomes vulnerable to the contrasting criticisms of being either an irrelevant moralist Utopia or a manipulable façade for State interests. He examines the conflicts inherent in international law - sources, sovereignty, 'custom' and 'world order' - and shows how legal discourse about such subjects can be described in terms of a small number of argumentative rules. This book was originally published in English in Finland in 1989 and though it quickly became a classic, it has been out of print for some years. In 2006, Cambridge was proud to reissue this seminal text, together with a freshly written Epilogue in which the author both responds to critiques of the original work, and reflects on the effect and significance of his 'deconstructive' approach today.

• Presents a critical theory of international law • Provides a comprehensive political and historical interpretation of international law • Based on a uniquely close reading of key texts and cases


1. Objectivity in international law: conventional dilemmas; 2. Doctrinal history: the liberal doctrine of politics and its effect on international law; 3. The structure of modern doctrines; 4. Sovereignty; 5. Sources; 6. Custom; 7. Variations of world order: the structure of international legal argument; 8. Beyond objectivism; Epilogue; Bibliography and table of cases.


'From Apology to Utopia is the most significant study of the structure of modern international law from a critical perspective. In the 20 years since its appearance, Koskenniemi has done much (as diplomat and legal practitioner) and written much (notably, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations, on our shared intellectual history). He takes the opportunity of this welcome revised edition to place his first work into perspective - and in a lengthy postscript to reaffirm it in all essentials. But now we see (or think we see) that the antinomies of ideology and utopia are inescapable and are to be lived through - not then a final critique but an analysis of the conditions of the profession by one of its major scholars.' James Crawford, Whewell Professor of International Law, Faculty of Law, and Director, Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge

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