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By: Rein Müllerson

Living in Interesting Times: Curse or Chance?

Pages: 220 Ratings:
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These are the memoirs and reflections on the most acute issues of the contemporary world by a boy from the Estonian countryside who, through accident and pure ambition, ended up as a professor at Moscow University and adviser to President Gorbachev on matters of international law. After a stint as head of Estonian diplomacy at crucial moments in the restoration of its independence, he later became a centennial professor at the LSE and chair of international law at King’s College London. This is not a traditional autobiography. Besides reflecting on issues he dealt with while advising Soviet leaders, such as Yakovlev in his speech on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact or the status of the Kuril Islands, and their repercussions in today’s world, the book analyses the roots of the crisis within liberal democracy, the upsurge of populism, the rise of China and the re-emergence of Russia as a great power. A Marco Polo fellow at Jiaotong University in China and recently awarded the highest Russian Order for foreigners – the Friendship Order by President Putin, Professor Müllerson, who lives in London, feels equally at home discussing the renewal of great-power competition, the problems of the European Union including Brexit, the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the negative impacts of political correctness both in the former USSR and today’s West. Having lived equal thirds of his life in three different worlds and worked in and visited many countries as a UN diplomat, he is a man who understands small country mentality, though being ‘spoilt by great-power mindset. 

Rein Müllerson is a professor emeritus at Tallinn University (Estonia). From 2009 to 2017, he was the rector of Tallinn University Nord, later president of the law school and research professor of Tallinn University. Between the years 1994 and 2009, he was professor of international law at King’s College London. In 2004–2005, on sabbatical from King’s, he worked as the UN regional adviser for Central Asia. During the years 1992 to 1994, he was a visiting centennial professor at 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 on matters of international law. He is a graduate of the Law Faculty of Moscow University and holds PhD (1979) and doctorate (1985) from that university. Since 1995, he is a Member of the Institut de Droit International (IDI). In 2013, he was elected the president of the IDI, in Tokyo.


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