Friedrich Fromhold Martens

Friedrich Fromhold Martens (also Fyodor Fyodorovich Martens or Frederic Frommhold de Martens) (1845–1909) was a famous Estonian born international lawyer.

He became an official in the foreign ministry of Russia in 1868 and was professor of international law at the University of St. Petersburg from 1873 to 1907. Martens was a representative at many international conferences, including the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, for which he helped lay the foundation. It was at the former where he formulated the famous savings clause that was included in the preamble of the Convention with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land and has become known as the Martens Clause:

Until a more complete code of the laws of war is issued, the High Contracting Parties think it right to declare that in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, populations and belligerents remain under the protection and empire of the principles of international law, as they result from the usages established between civilized nations, from the laws of humanity, and the requirements of the public conscience.

His decisions as arbitrator and his many books contributed much to international law, and his efforts toward international understanding brought him close to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1902.

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Friedrich Fromhold Martens should not be confused with Georg Friedrich von Martens (1756–1821) who was incidentally also an international lawyer, born in Hamburg. He was professor of international law at the University of Göttingen (1783–89), a state councilor of Westphalia (1808–13), and the representative of the king of Hanover in the diet of Frankfurt (1816–21).