Open Position: Grant-funded post-doctoral researcher in 'Toxic Crimes Project' (funded by the Kone Foundation)

University of Helsinki, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights

The University of Helsinki is among the leading multidisciplinary research universities in the world. In addition to its 11 faculties, the University includes several independent institutes, some of which are jointly operated with other universities. More than 30,000 students are currently pursuing a degree at the University of Helsinki.

The Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki is the leading Finnish institute of legal education. The Faculty of Law offers undergraduate degrees in Finnish, Swedish and English as well as a bilingual degree in Finnish and Swedish. The Faculty has a teaching and research staff of around 120 people and 2,400 students pursuing a degree.

As of 1998, 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 several 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.

The Position

The grantee will be affiliated with the Faculty of Law, the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights (ECI), at the University of Helsinki, Finland. The appointee’s duties will include conducting original research, publishing academic and non-academic articles, as well participating in other activities at the Faculty of Law and ECI. In addition to independent research work, the grant funded researcher must be able to work in a team with the other group members in order to follow the overarching project research plan. Our working language is English.

The appointee will be a group member in the Toxic Crimes Project (directed by Dr. Freek van der Vet). Our project combines sociological and legal approaches to examine how activists, lawyers, and other experts work against environmental destruction as a consequence of war and conflict. In the first part of the project, we examine how a network of international experts and organizations develops an international legal framework to ensure greater protection of the environment during armed conflict. In the second part of the project, we examine single country case studies on wartime environmental destruction, for instance the conflicts in Eastern Ukraine and Syria. The project aims to reveal

(1) how experts were involved in the development of this legal framework,

(2) how they try to promote the idea of the environment as a victim of war,

(3) how they have created new expertise and strategies of environmental monitoring and environmental risk assessments, and

4) how they have worked "on the ground" to limit the damage to health and ecosystems in specific conflict zones.

Please, note that this is a grant-funded position funded by the Kone Foundation (Finland) and not an employee contract with the University of Helsinki. However, the researcher will have access to a workspace at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, and will receive travel funds to cover conference travel and fieldwork. A research assistant supports the project. The grantee will be exempt from teaching duties, unless the researcher chooses to (but, up to 5 percent of working time).

The position offers a fixed monthly grant (3000 Euro per month) paid directly to the grantee by the Kone Foundation. Under Finnish tax law, annual income from research grants is tax-free up to a certain amount (please see the tax authority Vero webpage). The grant-funded researcher is obligated to pay social insurance fees to MELA.

We are looking for a colleague with a completed and relevant doctoral degree (social sciences, law, or related inter-disciplinary field, such as environmental peacebuilding). The position requires the ability and motivation to conduct independent scientific research. Furthermore, we are looking for a colleague who can demonstrate that they:

1. Can publish in international peer-reviewed academic journals on themes directly related to the project description

2. Participates in international academic networks and conferences

3. Is willing to write non-academic articles

4. Engages in interdisciplinary scholarship between the fields of social science and international law (environmental law, or other) or related relevant fields, for instance environmental peacebuilding.

5. Demonstrates collegiality and professionalism (peer support/ peer feedback/ international cooperation/professional correspondence)

6. Has excellent and clear English communication skills

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that not everyone can travel to Finland for this position. We are open to consider applications from candidates who wish to work from their own countries and institutes. Indicate this in your application. Please, keep in mind that you will then work under the tax system and social benefit system of your country of residence.

Please, send your application as a single pdf file to Freek van der Vet,, by 31 January 2021, 23:00 (Helsinki time). Your email subject should say: “Application Grant Funded Researcher Toxic Crimes Project, followed by your full name. Your single pdf file application includes three parts (written in English):

1. A 1-2-page application letter written by the applicant, indicating the applicant’s motivation to work with us, their research record, and expertise related to the research field

2. A curriculum vitae, including a list of publications

3. A tentative research and publication plan (max. 3 pages), relating to the theme of the project. The publication plan should include the tentative titles of your planned articles as well as the journals and publishers. The research plan should clearly operationalize how you are planning to conduct your research, preferably with a timeline.

Late applications or applications with missing parts will be rejected.