At the end of the 19th century, multicultural Austrian-Hungarian Eastern Galicia became a place of peaceful co-existence of ethnic and linguistic groups and cultures, in particular Rusyns, Poles, Jews and Germans. The L’viv University turned into the most important center of learning in Galicia and the one of most important in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
During the inter-war period, Lviv became a fertile ground on which formed a cohort of international law scholars who made a major contribution to the development of international law. Such prominent scholars as Gustav Roszkowski (1847-1915), Ludwik Ehrlich (1889, Ternopil’, – 1968, Krakow), Emile-Stanislaw Rappaport (1877, Warsaw – 1965, Łódź) and others taught law at the Lviv University (Uniwersytet Jana Kazimierza in 1919-1939). Among the alumni of the Lviv Law School were such stars of international law as Hersch Lauterpacht (1897, Zhovkva – 1960, UK), an advocate for human rights, Raphael Lemkin (1900, Russian empire – 1959, New York), a lawyer who coined the term “genocide” and authored the UN Convention on Genocide, Manfred Lachs (1914, Stanislav (now Ivano-Frankivsk) – 1993, the Hague), a judge of the International Court of Justice from 1967 until 1993, and Louis Sohn (1914, L’viv –2006, USA), a lawyer who worked on the statute of the International Court of Justice.
Rafał Lemkin Hersch Lauterpacht
Amid the Soviet and Nazi occupations during the Second World War, a whole generation of scholars of the L’viv University, mostly of Polish and Jewish origins, was removed from their positions, imprisoned or exterminated. Many of those who survived migrated abroad.
By the time Ukraine became independent in 1991, the memory of scholars of Austrian-Hungarian and Polish L’viv was almost fully erased from the Soviet and Ukrainian historiography. Few studies published on education in L’viv during the Austro-Hungarian and Second Polish Republic period were mostly by Polish scholars.
During the last ten years the situation radically changed. Now there is a number of scientific works devoted to the history of international law and human rights in Lviv, the authors of which are both Ukrainian (prof. Vasyl Repetskyy, Ihor Zeman, Markiyan Bem, Myroslav Kurtynets, Ivan Horodyskyy, Andriy Hachkevych) and foreign (i.e. prof. Philippe Sands, the University College of London).
In this regard, the establishment of the Centre seems to be a logical step in the further development of the international legal studies on Lviv basing on the great historical traditions of our predecessors.