Public lecture by Erkko Professor Karen Knop: "Uneasy alliances: populism, international law and the rise of foreign relations law", March 25 at 4:00 pm

The Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies hosts Karen Knop as the Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor in Studies on Contemporary Society for the academic year 2020-2021. Professor Karen Knop will give a public online lecture on March 25 at 4:00 pm. She will be introduced by Martti Koskenniemi, Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki.

When: Thursday, March 25, at 4:00 pm (Finnish time, GMT+2)


The lecture is free and open to all. The recording will be available until April 8, 2021, on Helsinki Collegium's Youtube channel (click the link above).

TitleUneasy alliances: populism, international law and the rise of foreign relations law


The withdrawal of states from a number of multilateral treaties and international institutions has given rise to widespread discussion of a populist backlash against international law.  This lecture will focus not on the immediate wins and losses for the backlash, but on the legal terrain where the backlash is resisted.  In high-profile cases like Brexit, the terrain is often not international law itself, but foreign relations law: the national mix of constitutional and administrative laws that determines who decides for “the people” in foreign relations and traditionally concentrates that power in the executive.  On the one hand, the pro-international law resistance invests, in effect, in a field of law that in some traditions denies the very existence of international law.  On the other hand, the resistance thereby expands the very structures of governance that populists tend to oppose.  The lecture will explore these uneasy alliances and the implications for thinking about the sovereign state in international law.

Short Bio:

Karen Knop is Professor of Law at the University of Toronto, where she has served as Editor of the University of Toronto Law Journal and Associate Dean for Research.  Her scholarship is broadly concerned with the challenges of gender and diversity to core concepts in public international law, including sovereignty, self-determination, nationality and the relationship between international and domestic law.  Professor Knop’s recent work develops alternative approaches to these topics by turning to private international law and foreign relations law.  Her books include Diversity and Self-Determination in International Law (Cambridge University Press), which received a Certificate of Merit from the American Society of International Law, and, as editor, Gender and Human Rights (Oxford University Press).  Her articles have appeared in the European Journal of International Law, Stanford Law Review and Transnational Legal Theory, among others.  She delivered a course at the Hague Academy of International Law in 2020.  Professor Knop serves on the editorial boards of five journals which are published in three countries. 

Karen Knop's profile on the HCAS website

More information:

Research Coordinator Kaisa Kaakinen, +358 2 94122493,

Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor Karen Knop

 (Photo by Veikko Somerpuro)