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