International Humanitarian Law
The Programme on International Humanitarian Law was established in 2012 and is chaired by Professor Dino Kritsiotis; its members include Professors Marko Milanovic and Sandesh Sivakumaran.
The Programme provides many opportunities for deepening scholarship but also developing engagement with policy makers internationally on contemporary issues within the field of international humanitarian law.
The Programme also serves as an important platform for international humanitarian law activities including an Annual Lecture on International Humanitarian Law which is delivered by a senior figure in the field. Additionally, the Programme hosts an annual roundtable, specifically designed for members of the LLM class on international humanitarian law to allow them to speak and share their views on a designated theme for the year alongside a panel of expert speakers. Past themes have included the Kony2012 video, propaganda during the First World War, starvation and humanitarian assistance and the treatment of journalists in modern warfare.
Finally, the Programme will sponsor (through coaching and contact with past peers) participation in the Concours Pictet, an international humanitarian law moot, as well as facilitate timely discussions on armed conflict characterisations (for example, Libya, Syria) and will offer to host a website of opinion papers by experts on whether hostilities have reached the point of international/non-international armed conflict.
Unit Head: Professor Dino Kritsiotis, Professor of Public International Law
Core Staff: Sandesh Sivakumaran, Professor of Law and Professor Marko Milanovic, Professor in Law
Professor Dino Kritsiotis
Professor Dino Kritsiotis is Professor of Public International Law specialising in international law and the use of force, international humanitarian law and the history and theory of international law.
He sits on the editorial boards for the Journal of Conflict and Security Law (Oxford University Press), the Human Rights Law Review (Oxford University Press), Human Rights and Human Welfare and the African Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law (Juta Publishing).
Sandesh Sivakumaran is Professor of Public International Law at the University of Nottingham. He researches across a range of international law topics. He is the author of The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict (OUP, 2012), co-author of Oppenheim's International Law: United Nations (OUP, 2017) and Cases and Materials on International Law (Sweet and Maxwell, 8 ed, 2015), and co-editor of International Human Rights Law (OUP, 3 ed, 2017). He is a member of the Advisory Board of Geneva Call and a member of the Reading Committee for the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Commentaries on the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols.
Professor Marko Milanovic
Professor Marko Milanovic is a Professor in Law specialising in general international law, particularly issues of state responsibility and treaty interpretation; human rights law and the question of extraterritorial application of human rights treaties; international criminal law and international humanitarian law.
He is the author of Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Treaties: Law, Principles and Policy (Oxford University Press, 2011) and has published in many leading academic journals. He sits on the editorial board of the European Journal of International Law and is co-editor of its blog, EJIL: Talk!
Marko has also acted as counsel or adviser in cases before the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court of Serbia. He is also Secretary General and member of the Executive Board of the European Society of International Law and an Associate of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights.
Sivakumaran, S., (2012) The Ownership of International Humanitarian Law: Non-State Armed Groups and the Formation and Enforcement of IHL Rules. In: Perrin, B., ed., Modern Warfare: Armed Groups, Private Militaries, Humanitarian Organizations, and the Law (University of British Columbia Press, pp. 86-101).
Sivakumaran, S., (2012) The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict (Oxford University Press)
Milanovic, M., (2011) Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Treaties: Law, Principles, and Policy (Oxford University Press)
Kritsiotis, D., (2009) International Law and the Violence of Non-State Actors. In: Kaikobad, K.H., and Bohlander, M., eds., International Law and Powers: Perspectives on Legal Order and Justice: Essays in Honour of Colin Warbrick (Koninklijke Brill NV, pp. 343-386)
Projects and events
Shaheed Fatima QC delivers the Seventh Annual International Humanitarian Law Lecture
Shaheed Fatima QC, a member of Blackstone Chambers in London, delivered the Seventh Annual Lecture on International Humanitarian Law at the University of Nottingham on the evening of Tuesday 4 December 2018.
The topic of Ms Fatima’s lecture was “Protecting Children in Armed Conflict” in which she provided a critical account of the adequacy and effectiveness of current international legal protections for children in warfare. Ms Fatima explained the background and findings of The International Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict, which concluded its work last year. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown chaired the Inquiry and Ms Fatima was a member of the Inquiry and lead author of its report - which has now been published as Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (Hart Publishing, 2018).
Ms Fatima emphasized the serious dangers and risks presented to children who are living in conflict situations throughout the world and her lecture argued for the urgency of reform in the content of international law as well as in the accountability mechanisms it provides for and on behalf of children.
The lecture was chaired by Professor Dino Kritsiotis and ended with an audience discussion with this year’s distinguished speaker.
November 2017: Roundtable on International Humanitarian Law and the Graphics of Violence
On 29 November 2017, HRLC's IHL Unit convened its Annual Roundtable on the topic of International Humanitarian Law and the Graphics of Violence at the Walton Hotel in Nottingham.
The Roundtable consisted of three sessions, chaired by Professor Dino Kritsiotis, Head of the IHL Unit, Professor Neville Wylie and Professor Sandesh Sivakumaran.
LLM students George Bailey, Sarah Thin, Georgina Adams, Ujjaini Chatterji and Elena Lunder presented their research on the topic alongside Dr Gus Waschefort (University of Essex), Dr Isobel Roele (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Christine Schwoebel (University of Liverpool), Dr Jessie Hohmann (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Sara Kendall (University of Kent) and Thérèse O’Donnell (University of Strathclyde).
The Roundtable was generously sponsored by the British Red Cross.
Annual Lecture, November 2017: Current Challenges to IHL: Law and Practice
On 14 November 2017, Ms Jelena Pejic delivered the IHL Unit's Annual lecture on Current Challenges to IHL: Law and Practice.
Ms Pejic is Senior Legal Adviser at the Legal Division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. Her work focuses on issues related to detention policy, the extraterritorial use of force, and strengthening IHL compliance mechanisms, the latter being a joint ICRC/Swiss Government-facilitated process which started in 2011. From 2002 to 2008 she was, among other things, the Head of the ICRC's Project on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law, which aimed to provide the organisation's response to the legal and policy questions raised by the "war on terrorism".
Prior to joining the ICRC, she was a Senior Program Coordinator at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York (now Human Rights First), responsible for the Committee’s work on issues of international criminal justice, including the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court.
Ms. Pejic holds an LLM degree from Columbia University Law School in New York, and a law degree from Belgrade University Law School, where she was a lecturer in Public International Law and International Relations. She has written and presented extensively on various issues of international humanitarian, human rights and criminal law. The lecture was chaired by Professor Dino Kritsiotis, Head of the IHL Unit.
Annual Lecture, November 2016: Solferino or Paris? The Birthplace of the Modern Laws of War
Professor Eyal Benvenisti from the University of Cambridge deliverede HRLC's International Humanitarian Law Unit's Annual Lecture on Tuesday 29 November 2016. Professor Benvenisti address was entitled Solferino or Paris? The Birthplace of the Modern Laws of War.
Professor Benvenisti challenged the conventional account of the birthplace of and motivations behind the codification of the modern laws of war. Traditionally associated with the Battle of Solferino and Henry Dunant as well as legal scholars such as Bluntschli, the history of the modern laws of war has been told as a narrative of a humanitarian idea, namely the intention to limit the horrors of war and to humanize warfare. Yet Professor Benvenisti posed the question whether Solferino had been indeed the impetus for international humanitarian law.
Annual Lecture, February 2016: Recognising the Difference between Hague and Geneva
Emerita Professor Francoise Hampson of the University of Essex gave the Fourth Annual Lecture for the IHL Unit at the University of Nottingham on 25 February 2016.
Professor Hampson looked at the history of international humanitarian law to understand the differences between the Law of the Hague, being the rules for the conduct of hostilities, and the Law of Geneva, being the rules for the protection of victims. She pointed out that there are significant differences in the 'legal culture' between the two sets of rules.
Professor Hampson concluded that the distinction between Hague and Geneva law matters and therefore the implications of this distinction are so widespread and significant that the distinction should be re-visited in more depth.
November 2015: Roundtable on Islamic State and International Humanitarian Law
In November 2015, the IHL Unit hosted the Fourth Annual International Humanitarian Law Roundtable at the Walton Hotel, Nottingham. This year's theme was 'The Islamic State and International Humanitarian Law'. The Roundtable provided LLM students Mr Arun Bora, Mr Shaun Payen, Mr Joud Saeb, Mr Ratislav Šutek and Ms Mona Liban with an opportunity to present their research and ideas alongside academic experts Dr Michael Kearney, University of Sussex and Dr Anicée Van England, University of Cardiff, as well as Mr Ibrahim Olabi, Executive Director of the Syrian Legal Development Programme.
Following a welcome by Professor Dominic McGoldrick, HRLC Co-Director, the event was chaired by Professor Marko Milanovic and Professor Neville Wylie, the presentations and discussions then engaged with the topic in a legal, historical, social and cultural context. The Roundtable was introduced and concluded by Professor Dino Kritsiotis, Head of the IHL Unit, with generous funding from the British Red Cross.
November 2014: Roundtable on International Humanitarian Law and the First World War: Historical and Future Reflections
On Wednesday 26 November 2014, Professor Dino Kritsiotis and Professor Sandesh Sivakumaran chaired the Third Annual Roundtable of HRLC's IHL Unit, International Humanitarian Law and the First World War: Historical and Future Reflections, this year generously sponsored by the British Red Cross.
The Roundtable provided Nottingham LLM students the opportunity to present and engage in discussion in a formal academic setting, alongside leading academics on a highly relevant topic in light of the World War One Centenary.
The Roundtable initially considered the legacy of World War One with a discussion around the historical and legal impact of the German War Crimes Trials (Professor Peter Rowe, University of Lancaster); the use of propaganda at the time and subsequently (Njahira Gitahi, Nottingham LLM student); the development of a “Modern” Prisoner of War Regime (Professor Neville Wylie, University of Nottingham); and the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict (Dr Kristin Hausler, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London).
Following this, the Roundtable considered the implication and effects of the use of chemical weapons (Amir Hossein Barmaki, Nottingham LLM Student) and air warfare (Isabelle Sammut, Nottingham LLM Student). Finally, the discussion considered the impact of the Great War on the Freedom of the Seas (Dr Gabriela Frei, University of Oxford) and the food blockade of Germany by Britain (Sarka Ostadalova, Nottingham LLM Student).
November 2013: Roundtable on Kony 2012: The Power and Possibilities of the Internet for International Law
On Wednesday 27 November 2013, Professor Dino Kritsiotis and Sandesh Sivakumaran chaired the Second Annual Roundtable of HRLC's IHL Unit, Kony 2012: The Power and Possibilities of the Internet for International Law. The roundtable followed the very successful model of 2012 with presentations by Nottingham LLM students and external experts on the topic, giving students the opportunity to present and engage in discussion in a formal academic setting.
The roundtable began with an overview of 'Who is Kony?' and the Kony 2012 video (Marlen Jakobi, Nottingham LLM student), an analysis of the human rights world's reaction to it (Ruth Brittle, Nottingham LLM student) and an update on the situation of Kony's child soldiers in 2013 (Simon Rau and Akaterni Katsimardou Miariti (Nottingham LLM students).
This was followed by discussion on possible responses to the crimes committed by Kony: hypothetical - such as a military response (Amy Larson), or actual - the ICC's role in apprehending fugitives in Africa (Dr Yassin M'Boge, University of Leicester). Finally, the roundtable considered whether the 'responsibility to protect' concept has any hope to offer the child soldiers (Catherine Gichuki, Nottingham LLM student) and whether the whole Kony 2012 experience is an example of sublimation by white noise with regard to the notion of greatest responsibility (Thérèse O'Donnell, University of Strathclyde).
Annual Lecture, November 2013: International Humanitarian Law and Lubanga's Child Soldiers - Shifting Grounds?
Professor Patricia Viseur Sellers, Special Advisor for Prosecution Strategies to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford, gave the Second Annual Lecture for the International Humanitarian Law Unit at the University of Nottingham on 22 October 2013.
Before a packed audience, Professor Sellers explored critical issues of international humanitarian law and international criminal law coming out of the The Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a case which resulted in the first conviction of the International Criminal Court based in The Hague. In her lecture, entitled 'International Humanitarian Law and Lubanga's Child Soldiers - Shifting Grounds?', Professor Sellers carefully delved into historical materials on this matter, such as the 1929 Geneva Convention Releative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, but also placed emphasis on the issue of 'consent' as it pertains to child soldiers.
Her lecture worked through the various concepts known in international criminal law, such as enlistment, conscription and participation and probed whether the law needed greater imagination and creativity in order to become more effective at what it is doing or trying to do on the front of child soldiers. Professor Sellers was introduced by Professor Dino Kritsiotis, the Head of Unit, who, with Professor Sellers, co-led a seminar for the LLM course on International Humanitarian Law earlier in the day.
Inaugural Lecture, November 2012: Customary Law in International Courts and Tribunals
On 6 November 2012 His Excellency Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered the inaugural lecture of the IHL Unit on Customary Law in International Courts and Tribunals. President Meron considered the historic and current significance of customary law in ad hoc international criminal tribunals, the application of custom in jurisprudence and the development of judicial dialogue between international courts.
President Meron discussed the extent to which the ICTY's increased focus on individual accountability for crimes committed during international and internal armed conflict (an approach similarly adopted by its sister tribunal, the International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR) and other international courts) can be seen as a transformative moment in international criminal justice. In President Meron's view this is the second transformative moment, the first being the adoption of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the proactive protections derived from the treaties.
President Meron illustrated the fact that the revival of customary international law in courts and tribunals means that it is no longer merely a matter for scholarly consideration, but is of judicial significance when developing and applying principles derived from jurisprudence.
The significance of customary international law was summarised by President Meron who considered that "without customary international law, international criminal law would be a sparse field." Indeed, the recognition of customary international law by other international courts and tribunals, regional courts, domestic courts, inter-governmental agencies, civil society and military forces worldwide, is indicative of the impact and value of the ICTY's jurisprudence.
Judge Theodor Meron has been the President of the ICTY since October 2011; he previously served as President between March 2003 and November 2005. He is also Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY and ICTR. In February 2012 he was appointed President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.
Roundtable on Protecting Education in Security and Armed Conflict
On 6 February 2012 the IHL Unit held its first roundtable and devoted its discussion to the International Law Handbook on Protecting Education in Insecurity and Armed Conflict (2012) of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. Professor Dino Kritsiotis welcomed the three authors of the Handbook - Dr Kristin Hauser, Nicole Urban and Professor Robert McCorquodale - to the roundtable for an event co-hosted at the Waltons Hotel with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
In welcoming these authors to the roundtable, Professor Kritsiotis highlighted the importance of the Handbook's commitment to a neglected challenge of modern warfare - the protection of educational personnel, facilities and infrastructures - and said that one of the important missions of the roundtable was to involve a broad base of introspection on the substantive findings of the Handbook as well as its methodologies. In his opening remarks, Professor McCorquodale, Director of the Institute of International and Comparative Law, provided the background to the production of the Handbook, which has been supported by Education Above All, a policy research and advocacy organisation based in Qatar chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nassar of Qatar, UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education.
The roundtable heard from Dr Kristin Hausler and Nicole Urban on the human rights and international humanitarian law aspects of the Handbook respectively. Five presentations were also heard from students selected from the LLM programme at the University of Nottingham: Evi Degroodt, The Right to Education: A Child's Perspective; Benjamin Warwick, Protection of Education: The Contribution of Human Rights; Natalia Debowska, A Framework of Comparative Protections: International and Non-International Armed Conflicts; Giacomo Biggio, Striking Education Facilities: Principles and Case Studies and Laura Cotroneo, Potential Meanings and Uses of Education in Warfare. The roundtable then heard presentations from Dr Olympia Bekou and Professor Marko Milanovic on international criminal law implications of education-related violations and dissemination and mass media respectively.
The roundtable closed with remarks from Professor McCorquodale as well as Professor Kritsiotis, who noted the importance of further doctoral research on these matters, taking forward and even expanding the themes and valuable resources contained in the Handbook.