Photo of Umut Özsu

Umut Özsu


Degrees:B.A. (Alberta); M.A., J.D., LL.M., S.J.D. (Toronto)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 3682
Office:D597 LA (Loeb Building)

Umut Özsu is a scholar of public international law, the history and theory of international law, and Marxist critiques of law, rights, and the state. He is the author of Completing Humanity: The International Law of Decolonization, 1960–82 (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Recounting the struggle to transform international law during the last major wave of decolonization, Completing Humanity documents and reassesses post-1945 decolonization from the standpoint of the “Third World” and the jurists who elaborated and defended its interests. He is also the author of Formalizing Displacement: International Law and Population Transfers (Oxford University Press, 2015), which situates “population transfer” within the broader history of international law by examining the interwar exchange of minorities between Greece and Turkey—the first legally structured large-scale endeavour in compulsory population exchange in modern international history. Umut is also co-editor of the Research Handbook on Law and Marxism (Edward Elgar, 2021) and The Extraterritoriality of Law: History, Theory, Politics (Routledge, 2019), as well as several journal symposia.

Since 2011, when he took up his first teaching position, Umut has taught thousands of BA, MA, PhD, JD, and LLM students, his courses ranging from the law of contracts through public international law and international human rights law to specialized seminars in citizenship, human rights, transitional justice, and legal and socio-legal theory.

For further information, including links to publications below, please see here.

Selected publications


Completing Humanity: The International Law of Decolonization, 1960–82 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).

Formalizing Displacement: International Law and Population Transfers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Edited volumes and special issues

Research Handbook on Law and Marxism (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2021). [Co-edited with Paul O’Connell.]

CLR James and ‘World Revolution’” 26 (2020) The CLR James Journal 179–240. [Co-edited with Philip Kaisary.]

The Extraterritoriality of Law: History, Theory, Politics (London: Routledge, 2019). [Co-edited with Daniel S. Margolies, Maïa Pal, and Ntina Tzouvala.]

Symposium on Land-Grabbing” 32 (2019) Leiden Journal of International Law 205–74. [Symposium co-edited with Surabhi Ranganathan.]

International Legal Histories of the Ottoman Empire” 18 (2016) Journal of the History of International Law 1–145. [Symposium co-edited and introduced with Thomas Skouteris.]

Book chapters and journal articles

The Necessity of Contingency: Method and Marxism in International Law” in Ingo Venzke and Kevin Jon Heller, eds., Contingency in International Law: On the Possibility of Different Legal Histories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021) 60–76.

Hydrocarbon Humanitarianism: Ibrahim Shihata, ‘Oil Aid’, and Resource Sovereignty” 23 (2021) Journal of the History of International Law 137–60.

Organizing Internationally: Georges Abi-Saab, the Congo Crisis, and the Decolonization of the United Nations” 31 (2020) European Journal of International Law 601–19.

Ottoman International Law?” in Lâle Can, Michael Christopher Low, Kent F. Schull, and Robert Zens, eds., The Subjects of Ottoman International Law (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020) 238–45.

The Historical Origins and Setting of the Friendly Relations Declaration” in Jorge E. Viñuales, ed., The UN Friendly Relations Declaration at 50: An Assessment of the Fundamental Principles of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020) 23–47. [Co-authored with Samuel Moyn.]

Genocide as Fact and Form” 21 (2020) Journal of Genocide Research 62–71.

Grabbing Land Legally—A Marxist Analysis” 32 (2019) Leiden Journal of International Law 215–33.

Determining New Selves: Mohammed Bedjaoui on Algeria, Western Sahara, and Post-Classical International Law” in Jochen von Bernstorff and Philipp Dann, eds., The Battle for International Law: South-North Perspectives on the Decolonization Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019) 341–57.

Legal Form” in Jean d’Aspremont and Sahib Singh, eds., Concepts for International Law: Contributions to Disciplinary Thought (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2019) 624–35.

Humanitarian Intervention Today”, in Leo Panitch and Greg Albo, eds., Socialist Register 2019: A World Upside Down? (London: Merlin Press, 2018) 271–88.

Neoliberalism and Human Rights: The Brandt Commission and the Struggle for a New World” 81 (2018) Law and Contemporary Problems 139–65.

Neoliberalism and the New International Economic Order: A History of ‘Contemporary Legal Thought’” in Justin Desautels-Stein and Christopher L. Tomlins, eds., Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017) 330–47.

‘Let us first of all have unity among us’: Bandung, International Law, and the Empty Politics of Solidarity” in Luis Eslava, Michael Fakhri, and Vasuki Nesiah, eds., Bandung, Global History, and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017) 293–307.

An Anti-Imperialist Universalism? Jus Cogens and the Politics of International Law” in Martti Koskenniemi, Walter Rech, and Manuel Jiménez Fonseca, eds., International Law and Empire: Historical Explorations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017) 295–313.

The Ottoman Empire, the Origins of Extraterritoriality, and International Legal Theory” in Anne Orford and Florian Hoffmann, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) 123–37.

‘In the interests of mankind as a whole’: Mohammed Bedjaoui’s New International Economic Order” 6 (2015) Humanity 129–43.

From the ‘Semi-Civilized State’ to the ‘Emerging Market’: Remarks on the International Legal History of the Semi-Periphery” in Ugo Mattei and John D. Haskell, eds., Research Handbook on Political Economy and Law (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2015) 246–59.

Ottoman Empire” in Bardo Fassbender and Anne Peters, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) 429–48.