The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights (ECI) was established in 1998 within the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki. The institute was named after Erik Castrén (1904–1984), a former Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki and a former member of the United Nations International Law Commission. The aim of the Institute is to promote research on public international law and human rights, from broad and often heterodox and trans-disciplinary perspectives. This has always included also critical approaches to European integration and the functioning of law in transnational contexts at large.
In the course of its two decades of its existence, the Erik Castrén Institute has grown from a small body, employing two researchers on short-term projects, to an entity encompassing at any given moment some 20-25 researchers. The Institute has housed the projects of Academy Professors Martti Koskenniemi and Jan Klabbers; the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in Global Governance Research 2006–2011, as well as a number of other large-scale research projects funded by the Finnish Academy, the European Research Council, and other funders. These have addressed a diversity of topics, ranging from Europe’s intellectual history to minority protection, from linguistic rights to cyber warfare, and the relations of international law to religion and empire. The Institute has been – and continues to be – home to scholars from a number of different disciplines, comprising not only international lawyers but also anthropologists, theologians, historians, philosophers and political scientists, and has provided an institutional basis for individual researchers receiving grants in not just international law, but also political theory and intellectual history.
In addition to carrying out research projects, ECI regularly organizes events, none better known than the annual Helsinki Summer Seminar on International Law. ECI also hosted the first ever (and thus far only) joint conference organized by the European and American Societies of International Law, in 2009, and regularly organizes seminars together with the Foreign Ministry of Finland.
Since its early days, ECI has invariably achieved the highest marks in research assessments at the University of Helsinki, and the high level of the work conducted at ECI has ensured that ECI has become a global brand name. It has consolidated the position of its senior researchers and stimulated and facilitated the intellectual development of many younger researchers, either through research employment or as visiting scholars. Together these form a vibrant academic community without boundaries, with ECI-affiliated scholars working as far apart as Melbourne and Bogotá, Brasil and Beijing, and Paris and Los Angeles.
For information about undergraduate and post graduate studies please visit the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law website on admissions.