Martti Koskenniemi receives honorary title of Academician of Science

19 Jan 2023

Professor Heli Jantunen, Professor Emeritus Martti Koskenniemi and Research Professor Merja Penttilä have been awarded the honorary title of Academician of Science. President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö granted the titles at a presidential session today, 19 January 2023.

Professor Heli Jantunen’s expertise is in the field of materials science and engineering; Professor Martti Koskenniemi has his expertise in international law; and Research Professor Merja Penttilä has her expertise in biotechnology and synthetic biology. They are all highly distinguished scientists and scholars with a pioneering track record in their respective fields of research. Their work has wide-ranging relevance across different sectors of society and as such contributes to solving global challenges.

The title of Academician can be held by no more than 16 distinguished Finnish scientists and scholars at a time. The title of Academician of Science is awarded by the President of the Republic based on nominations by the Academy of Finland.

Critical legal studies is necessary for democracy

Professor Emeritus Martti Koskenniemi (b. 1953) has been Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki since 1994 and founder and director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights since 1997. He is one of the world’s leading international law scholars.

Martti Koskenniemi has contributed widely to the scholarly debate in the field of international law for the past 30 years. His main areas of research interest include the history of international law, state succession, human rights and the fragmentation of international law.

He has always been keen to boldly explore new research subjects. Critical theory has provided the framework for Koskenniemi to address issues sidelined in traditional international law doctrine. This is also the basis for his active involvement in public debate in society.

Koskenniemi points out that in international life, everyone appeals to legal rules.

“It’s used to create order and to distribute resources, to support and oppose the use of armed force and free trade. Legal rules serve both to protect and destroy the natural environment, and they are used to create and limits rights,” he says.

“The aim of critical legal studies is to make visible the interests and endeavours that produce this juridical cacophony. That’s why democracy needs it.”

Koskenniemi obtained his doctorate at the University of Turku in 1989. He has held visiting or part-time professorships at the University of Cambridge, the London School of Economics, the University of Melbourne and Sorbonne University in Paris. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has honorary doctorates from several universities. He has also served as a member of the UN International Law Commission. He was Academy Professor in 2005–2009 and 2013–2017. Koskenniemi received the Finnish Science Award in 2021.

Learn more about Academicians of Science.


  • Paula Eerola, President of the Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 001, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Johanna Myllyharju, Chair of the Board of the Academy of Finland, tel. +358 294 485 740, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Professor Emeritus Martti Koskenniemi, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 50 356 1506, firstname.lastname(at) (available as of 23 Jan)

Academy of Finland
Riitta Tirronen, Director of Communications
tel. +358 295 335 118

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