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Thanks to the generous grant provided by the Estonian American Fund, the School of Law of the University of Tartu has been able to develop its international law program considerably. We are now much more visible in the field of international law and have become the focal point for international law-related academic activities in the Baltic States, particularly in Estonia. 


The concrete activities funded by the project have been the acquisition of unique historical collections for the international law library at our Tallinn campus (Kaarli pst 3). Furthermore, we have organized three rounds of the Martens Summer School on International Law - in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The grant also funded the Estonian translation of Lauri Mälksoo’s monograph “Russian Approaches to International Law” (Oxford University Press, 2015) in the Estonian language (Tartu University Press, 2016). 


The main item in the use of the grant has been the organization of the three summer schools.


In 2016, we had the following professors teaching at the 5th Martens Summer School: Jarna Petman (Helsinki University), Bruno Simma (The Hague, former judge at the ICJ); David P. Stewart (Georgetown University Law Center; formerly at the U.S. State Department) Vladislav Starzhenetskiy (Higher School of Economics, Law Faculty, Moscow). The Martens lecture at the summer school of 2016 was held by Dr René Värk (University of Tartu). 


In 2017, we had the following professors teaching at the 6th Martens Summer School: Laurence Boisson de Chazournes (University of Geneva), Rain Liivoja (University of Melbourne), William E. Butler (Penn State University; Dickinson College of Law), Ilya Rachkov (MGIMO University, Moscow). The Martens lecture at the summer school of 2017 was held by Dr Merilin Kiviorg (University of Tartu).


In 2018, we had the following professors teaching at the 7th Martens Summer School: Erika de Wet (University of Pretoria), Rüdiger Wolfrum (Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg), Gleb Bogush (University of Moscow), Nico Schrijver (Leiden University). The Martens lecture at the summer school of 2018 was held by Margus Kolga (Estonian MFA; Estonia’s former permanent representative at the UN).


Each year, we have had about 25 students attending the summer school – usually about 1/3 of the students are from Estonia and the rest are mostly from Europe (particularly Eastern Europe, including Russia) but some have come from far away countries like South Korea, Chile, Viet Nam, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, etc. 


The summer school has enabled to promote and maintain Estonia as ‘place for international law’. All the invited professors are leaders in their field and well known beyond their own universities. Coming together to Pärnu in the summer, a unique ‘international law festival’-like intellectual synergy emerges between professors and students. The summer school is also much appreciated by the city of Pärnu since each time, we also do the public Martens lecture in the City Library which is followed by the reception offered by Pärnu, each time attended by the deputy major Rainer Aavik.


We are very grateful that the follow up project has been funded and we will thus be able to organize also the summer schools in the coming three years, thus raising the number of Martens Summer Schools to 10.


Allow me to wrap up the main reasons why the summer school is important for Estonia and in the region:


1) Estonia as a country of 1,3 Mio people itself has relatively few international law experts. It is necessary to introduce other prominent voices. Estonian lawyers – inter alia from ministries and courts – will become wiser about current issues of international law and this will raise the legal consciousness in the country.


2) Estonia needs international law for its long-term survival as sovereign state. Therefore, it is in the country’s national interest to promote knowledge about international law and to promote the idea that Estonia is one of the places that values international law.


3) Since Western information is nowadays still not available to everybody at universities in Eastern Europe and Eurasia (beyond the EU; former USSR republics), it is a work of enlightenment to introduce students from these countries with ideas of Western experts. Simultaneously, however, students from the West can learn from Russian experts whom we have invited, and understand international law from comparative perspective. 


4) Tartu University School of Law wants to promote its MA program in International Law and Human Rights (based in Tallinn) and the Martens Summer School is related to this program, bringing in new students and familiarizing them with professors and logistics in Estonia. 


We are very grateful to the Estonian American Fund for the support that it has continuously provided.


Lauri Mälksoo,

Professor of International Law at the University of Tartu (Estonia);

Head of the public law department at the School of Law of the University of Tartu



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