Lauri Mälksoo

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199599752
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law


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This chapter notes that Russia’s historical relationship with Europe in the framework of international law can be characterized as the relationship between the periphery and the centre. Initially, from the early 18th century onwards, Russia was a European periphery that had successfully attached itself to the Western European centre. It benefited enormously from belonging to European ‘civilized’ peoples. This enabled Russia to continue its territorial expansion so that the Russian Empire became the world’s largest State. During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Russia contributed significantly to international law. Russia’s attitude towards international law as it had been developed in Europe was ambivalent—the Tsarist rulers were willing to accept the external aspects of international law but they were not prepared or successful in going along with the reverse side of the coin: giving rights to its own population. They loved State sovereignty but neglected the rights of their ‘subjects’.

Keywords: international law; European periphery; Western Europe; Russian Empire; Tsarist rulers

Article.  10924 words. 

Subjects: Law ; History of Law ; International Law

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