Research projects
Created By: on 05/06/1999 at 05:29 PM
Category: 14 Law Category2: Dpt of Public Law


Professor Martin Scheinin (Faculty member at the Department of Public Law until 31 July 1998) is in charge of the research project "The Welfare State and Constitutionalism in the Nordic Countries", financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The time frame of the project is 1997-2000, and the project budget 1,65 million Danish krona. The research group has members from all five Nordic countries, and some of them supervise postgraduate students at their own universities. - In 1994-95 Scheinin was responsible for a Nordic-Baltic project to examine the domestic status of international human rights treaties in the five Nordic and three Baltic countries. The project, which had no research funding, resulted in the book Scheinin (ed.), International Human Rights Norms in the Nordic and Baltic Countries (Martinus Nijhoff 1996). - Scheinin was, in 1997-98, a visiting scholar financed by the Academy of Finland at University of Toronto, Canada. His research was related to indigenous land rights and legal safeguards for social rights. The results will be published in Orlin - Rosas – Scheinin (eds.), The Comparative Jurisprudence of Human Rights (Syracuse University Press 1999, forthcoming).


Some Projects within the International Law Discipline (1994-98):

1. The main project has been the establishment of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights. This took place in February 1998. The institute itself has thereafter been the focus of a number of consultancies and research projects, among them three for the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs): 1) The Rights of Women; 2) The Right to Development; 3) The Legitimacy of the Use of Force and the Changing Security Structures in Europe and Finland. In addition, three projects deserve mention: 4) Support for the Human Rights Commission of Uganda (fact-finding and project planning mission, together with FINNIDA); 5) Publication of State Practice in Regard to State Succession and Recognition of States (for the Council of Europe); 6) National Legislation on Child Abduction (a consultant study for the Finnish Ministery for Foreign Affairs).

2. International Law Aspects of the European Union. This study was conducted in 1996-97 together with the Cambridge Research Centre for International Law. Its Results are published by Kluwer Law International in. Martti Koskenniemi (Ed.), International Law Aspects of the European Union (1998).

3. The International Law of State Succession. This project was carried out in 1996 in collaboration with the Hague Academy of International Law. Several studies on it have already been published and the final report (to be published by Kluwer Law International) will be out in 1999.

4. In addition, during 1994-98 there have been research projects in the field of humanitarian law, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, new approaches to international law, and international economic law. These have been carried out through resources received from several Finnish government agencies, in particular the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, The Ministry for Defence and the Ministry for Trade and Industry.


Research project "Polycentric Law" (1992-1995), led by professor Lars D. Eriksson , was funded by the University of Helsinki (general project funds). The budget of the project was around 1m FIM. In the project worked as full time researchers Ari Hirvonen and Panu Minkkinen, as part-time research assistant Outi Honkasaari, and as non-paid researcher acting professor Juha Pöyhönen from the University of Lapland. Moreover, the project funded visits of foreign scholars (lecturer in constitutional law Angus McDonald from Staffordshire University, fellow researcher in legal theory Christopher Stanley from Westminster University, and fellow resercher in jurisprudence Håkan Gustafsson from Gothenburg University) to the University of Helsinki to do work related to the project.

The main idea of the project was to demonstarate the inadequacy of current legal paradigms by mapping the indeterminacies of both the modern law and the modern legal theory. It also addressed the possibility of legal and ethical alternativies to the modern legal theories. The key issues covered by the project were the ways in which legal interpretation should be understood; whether jurisprudence understands itself; whether there is fundamental ethics of law; what is the ontology of the law; and what are the relationships between law, justice and politics. The project was a legal and philosophical investigation of the phenomena of law and justice and it provided openings to polycentric legal theories both by deconstructing the idea of unity in law and re-constructing legal and ethical differences. (see Polycentric Law. An Introduction)

During the project, the researchers published numerous articles in international and Finnish journals (respectively International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Law & Critique, Retfaerd, Basileus and Lakimies, Oikeus, Tiede & edistys, Nuori voima) and in various collections of essays, and participated in conferences where the research project was presented. Moreover, Panu Minkkinen published his doctoral theses Correct Law in 1998 and Ari Hirvonen is finishing his doctrol thesis Being Right, which will be published during 1999.

The project organised one national conference, Rajapintoja, in 1992 and one international conference Fragments, in 1994.

In 1998 was published Polycentricity. The Multiple Scenes of Law (ed. by Ari Hirvonen) by Pluto Press. The book is a collection of essays written by scholars who were closely involved with the project. In one sense, the book is the final report of the "Polycentric Law"-project.