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Conference ““The Death of Law? Machines, Technology and Algorithms Deciding”


The law as we know it today is the outcome of a “revolution” (Berman) that, starting in the late Middle Age, was more or less fulfilled in the Modernity after the French Revolution. The Modernity is above all a process where the law is emancipated from hierarchical social structures and religious dependencies and projects itself as a universal mode of regulation that claims to be a moment forward in a teleological travel towards justice. There is an intrinsic claim to justice and to progress. However, Modernity is the holder of two version of universalizability: one equates universal law with universally acceptable rules, the other one means by universal law no more than generally causally applicable laws. It is the modernity related to technique that gets the upper hand. In this new millennium technique, technology, machine have accelerated their hegemony. Nature was cracked open in the last century as the nuclear fission was discovered leading to a new type of energy and cloning of biological organisms became possible. Finally, the development of computer science has raised the claim of an artificial intelligence that might be able to replace human operations. All these three developments put our practice and concept of law in question. With the rise of artificial intelligence and the increasing dominance of technology, there is a growing concern about the erosion of empathy, free will, and the very essence of human subjectivity. Universality as general causality is replacing universality as general acceptability. This landscape pushes towards a radical transformation of our practice of law towards a destination that might plausibly labelled as “death of law”. This conference seeks to assess the meaning and consequences of such possible “death of law” and whether this “death” really is the final destination of our legal culture and world. How much “disenchantment” of the world (Max Weber), an iron cage as the ruling of machines and algebraic formulae, how much “nudity” of the humans (Agamben), reduced just to manipulable bunches of genes and cells, can the law tolerate? 

3rd–4th October 2024

Tallinn University (A-002), Estonia


16:00-16:05 Opening words by Massimo La Torre, Professor of European Law, School of Governance, Law and Society TLU

16:05-16:45 Presentation by Professor Martti Koskenniemi

16:45-17:10 Comments by Professor Rein Müllerson

17:10-18:00 Q&A

Scholars involved:



Martti Koskenniemi - Overview | NYU School of Law

Martti Antero Koskenniemi is a Finnish international lawyer and former diplomat. Currently he is professor of International Law in the University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, as well as Centennial Professor at the Law Department of the London School of Economics. He is well known for his critical approach to international law. In 2008–2009 he held the seat of distinguished visiting Goodhart Professor at the Faculty of Law, Cambridge University. In 2011 Koskenniemi was Peace of Utrecht professor at Utrecht University. In 2014 he was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. Koskenniemi is currently serving as an Academy Professor for the Academy of Finland.

Previously he has been Global Professor of Law in the New York University, and a member of the International Law Commission (2002–2006). He served in the Finnish Diplomatic Service in the years 1978–1996, lastly as director of the Division of International Law. He was Finland’s counsel in the International Court of Justice in the Passage through the Great Belt case (Finland v. Denmark) (1991–1992)

From 1997 to 2003 he served as a judge in the administrative tribunal of the Asian Development Bank.

He is a member of the Institut de droit international.




undefinedRein Müllerson (Tallinn): Professor Emeritus at Tallinn University. In 2009-2017 he was the Rector of Tallinn University Nord, and President of the Law School and research Professor of Tallinn University. 1994-2009 he was Professor of International Law at King’s College, London. In 2004, on Sabbatical from King’s, he worked as the UN Regional Adviser for Central Asia. In 1992-94 he was Visiting Centennial Professor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 1991-92 Müllerson was First Deputy Foreign Minister of Estonia and in 1988-92 a Member of the UN Human Rights Committee. Before that Müllerson worked as the Head of the Department of international law at the Institute of State and Law in Moscow and was Advisor to President Gorbachev of the USSR on international law. He is a graduate of the Law Faculty of Moscow University and holds PhD (1978) and Doctorate (1985) from that University. Since 1995 he is a Member of the Institut de Droit International. In 2013, in Tokyo, he was elected the President of the Institut de Droit International. He is fluent in Estonian, Russian, English and French. Professor Müllerson is the author of thirteen books on international law and politics and more than 200 articles and reviews. His latest books are International Law: Rights and Politics (Routledge 1994); Human Rights Diplomacy (Routledge, 1997); Ordering Anarchy: International Law in International Society (Kluwer Law International, 2000); Central Asia: A Chessboard and Player in the New Great Game (Kegan Paul, 2007 and second edition by Routledge in 2012); Democracy Promotion: Institutions, International Law and Politics, (The Hague Academy of International Law, Recueil des Cours, vol 333, 2008); Martinus Nijhoff Publishers; Democracy – A Destiny of Humankind: A Qualified, Contingent and Contextual Case for Democracy Promotion, NovaPublishers (New York), 2009 (in 2013 published also in Estonian by Tallinn University Press); Regime Change: From Democratic Peace Theories to Forcible Regime Changes, Brill, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Leiden, Boston), 2013; Dawn of a New Order: Geopolitics and Clash of Ideologies (London, I.B. Tauris, 2017). He is the author of more than 300 academic articles.