Opening of ESIL Conference in Riga; the day ends with a ceremonial reception at Riga Castle

On Thursday, 8 September, the 12th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law opened in Riga. The Conference is from 8-10 September at the Latvian National Library.

Opening speeches for the ESIL Conference were given by RGSL Rector George Ulrich, Latvian Constitutional Court President Aldis Laviņš, ESIL President André Nollkaemper, Saeima Deputy Speaker Inese Lībiņa-Egnere and Latvian Ministry of Justice State Secretary Raivis Kronbergs.

President of ESIL André Nollkaemper emphasized, that ESIL is an open and democratic society, which aims to promote international law discourse throughout Europe. It regrets that some international law scholars from Turkey were unable to attend the conference due to administrative or other restrictions.

Participating in the opening discussion of the Conference “How International Law Works in Times of Crisis” were Judge James Crawford of the International Court of Justice and Professor Lauri Malksoo of the University of Tartu. The discussion was moderated by Professor Anne van Aaken of the University of St. Gallen.

The conversation between journalist Pauls Raudseps and the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs about the significance of international law in crisis situations drew much attention. During the conversation, the Minister said: “The weakness of the European  Union is that states of that union have divided interests. A lot of effort goes into achieving a unified policy. However that common understanding often cannot be reached".

On the first day of the Conference, the participants discussed the following themes: new forms of warfare, human rights and minority rights in crisis situations, the challenging conditions of the contemporary economic and financial crisis, whether international law directly affects national immunity, and the role of international law in the 21st century in solving territorial disputes.

At the end of the first day of the ESIL Conference, all participants headed to Riga Castle to be welcomed in a ceremonial reception by Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis.

The ESIL Conference is hosted by Riga Graduate School of Law and the Latvian Constitutional Court in cooperation with the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian Ministry of Justice and the European Commission. The Conference has gathered over 420 participants from 43 countries. The theme of this year’s Conference is “How International Law Works in Times of Crisis”. More information on the ESIL Conference and the programme is available on the official web page:

ESIL Conference discussions are available live from Ziedonis Hall during the entire Conference. Link to live broadcast:

Video from the ESIL opening ceremony is available in English and in French here:

Video from the ESIL opening discussion is available in English and in French here:

Moreover, a summary of the main conclusions of the ESIL Conference will be included in the 20 September edition of the legal journal “Jurista Vārds”.

We are grateful to international passenger carrier company “Lux Express” for their cooperation, ensuring convenient and comfortable transfers for ESIL participants.



Prepared by:

Laura Majevska

RGSL PR and Marketing Manager