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Mr Ville Kari

Institution: University of Helsinki, Erik Castrén Institute

Period of stay: 15 July - 12 September 2019










Ville Kari is a postgraduate student at the University of Helsinki and a research fellow at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law. He is working on a doctoral thesis on the classical doctrine of civil war in international law.

Ville has previously held visiting fellowships at IREDIES, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Sciences Po École de Droit, and the University of Melbourne Laureate Program in International Law. He currently lives in Paris.

Apart from his research, Ville has taught international law and the law of the sea and is one of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting rapporteurs.

Research Area:

History of international law

Research Title:

Erik Castrén and the classical doctrine of civil war in international law

Research Outline:

In the law of nations there was a doctrine of civil war. The doctrine emerged from the transatlantic state practice around the American and Spanish American revolutions, and it peaked during the nineteenth-century civil wars on those continents. In European legal scholarship, the law of civil war expanded after the foundation of the Institut de droit international, but by the time of the Spanish civil war it was rapidly breaking down. During the middle of the twentieth century, ‘civil war’ as a legal concept withered away from international usage until the classical doctrine was all but forgotten.

The purpose of this dissertation is to look back on that tradition and to help make it understandable again. In conclusion, the last scholars of civil war are revisited, and it is shown how after 1949 they began to make a distinction between the ‘classical’ doctrine of civil war which had been, and the ‘new’ humanitarian law which was about to come. In an epilogue, the work revisits Erik Castrén’s book Civil War (1966), which was the original starting point of the whole project.


Ville Kari: “Freebooters and Free Traders: English Colonial Prize Jurisdiction in the West Indies 1655-1670” 21 Journal of the History of International Law 2019

Ville Kari, “A Less Elevated Cosmopolitanism: Victor Hugo, Francis Lieber, and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870” in Klabbers, J., Varaki, M. & Vasconcelos Vilaca, G. (eds.), Towards Responsible Global Governance (University of Helsinki 2018)

Martti Koskenniemi & Ville Kari: “A More Elevated Patriotism: The Emergence of International and comparative law (Nineteenth Century)” in H Pihlajamäki, M Dubber &  D Godfrey eds, The Oxford Handbook of European Legal History (Oxford University Press 2018)

Ville Kari: ’Sielu ja uusi kone’ Oikeus 3/2018 [”The Soul and the New Machine”]

Ville Kari: ’Ydinaseiden kieltosopimuksesta’ Oikeus 1/2018 [”On the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”]


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