The Baltic States at 100: The State Continuity Claim in International Law and in Relations with Russia

Sunday, June 3, 2018

12:00 pm

McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center Map

Sponsored by:
Stanford University Libraries

Join us for a luncheon session of the 2018 AABS Conference at Stanford University: The 100th Anniversary of Baltic Independence, featuring a keynote talk by Dr. Lauri Mälksoo:

The Baltic States at 100: The State Continuity Claim in International Law and in Relations with Russia

When we look at the former Soviet space from the international legal perspective, we see that a major feature that has set Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania apart from the rest of the region is their state continuity claim that was successfully presented in 1988–1994. The claim that the Baltic states were illegally occupied by the USSR in 1940 is one of the main factors that has contributed to the full integration of the Baltic countries with the Western world. While a similar argument has occasionally been made in Georgia and Ukraine, it has not been consistent or found recognition elsewhere.

The Baltic continuity claim was culturally a Western, legalistic, and contractual claim based on the principle of Roman law and justice, ex injuria jus non oritur (“law does not arise from injustice”). Yet this claim has not been without its problems either, notably in Latvia and Estonia where since the 1990s citizenship and education laws – directly stemming from the logic of state continuity – have occasionally been criticized. Moreover, Russia has never recognized the Baltic continuity claim.

As the world faces more self-determination claims in the future, the Baltic continuity thesis is likely to be studied as precedent in Catalonia, Scotland, and even Hawaii. What kind of precedent have the Baltic states set? What have been the main obstacles the Baltic claim has met in the past and what obstacles will similar claims meet in the future? These questions will be investigated in my keynote talk that emphasizes the connections between the Baltic case and the international legal norms and standards of the 1940s.

Dr. Lauri Mälksoo has been a Professor of International Law at the University of Tartu since 2009. He is a graduate of the University of Tartu (1998), has studied at Georgetown University (LL.M., 1999), Humboldt University Berlin (Dr. iur., 2002) and been a post-doctoral researcher at NYU (2004-2005) and Tokyo University (2006-2007) as well as a fellow at NYU (2013-2014). He was the main organizer of the 4th Research Forum of the European Society of International Law in 2011. Dr. Mälksoo currently serves as Fellow at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

Dr. Mälksoo has published books and articles on the international legal status of the Baltic States, history and theory of international law and Russia’s concept of international law. His monograph, Russian Approaches to International Law (Oxford UP, 2015) won the honorable mention of the Marshall Shulman Book Prize in 2016. Most recently, he co-edited with Wolfgang Benedek a book, Russia and the European Court of Human Rights: the Strasbourg Effect (Cambridge UP, 2017).

Dr. Mälksoo is a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences since 2013 and an associate member of the Institut de Droit International since 2015.

The keynote talk will be followed by a Q&A session.

Sunday, June 3, 2018
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center Map

Free for SU affiliates, open to the public. To register for this or other events of the 2018 AABS Conference program, please visit this website. 


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