The Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum on International Humanitarian Law provides a platform within the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies for research, teaching and further dissemination of international humanitarian law. Additionally, the Forum offers students the opportunity to participate in an international humanitarian law clinic to work on projects of partner institutions in the field.
The Forum was established in 2011 and named after Frits Kalshoven, Professor Emeritus of public international law and international humanitarian law at Leiden Law School (1967-1989), and the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund. The Forum is directed by Dr. Robert Heinsch.
The Forum seeks to stimulate and coordinate research within the Grotius Center in the field of international humanitarian law with a specific focus on:
- The protection of the victims of war, in particular the protection of children and women, and the legal remedies for the victims of war (Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld and Ms. Helen Beckmann-Hamzei LL.M.).
- The conduct of hostilities and prosecution of war crimes (Dr. Robert Heinsch and Dr. Erik Koppe).
- Humanitarian assistance and development (Prof. Horst Fischer and Ms. Emilie Kuijt LL.M.).
Prof. Zegveld has held the Gieskes Chair on International Humanitarian Law in particular the rights of women and children since 2006. Ms. Beckmann-Hamzei and Ms. Kuijt are both Gieskes Ph.D. fellows.
The Forum hosts research group meetings every two months during which Grotius fellows and a select number of associated researchers, including Mr. Masahiro Kurosaki, Ms. Christine Tremblay, Mr. Jeroen van den Boogaard, and Ms. Emilia Richard, as well as alumni from Leiden Law School’s LL.M. Programs in Public International Law. The research group discusses current research and developments in international humanitarian law.
It is intended to incorporate the results of the Study Group on the ‘The conduct of hostilities under international humanitarian law - challenges of 21st century warfare’ of the International Law Association (ILA), of which Dr. Heinsch is Rapporteur and Dr. Koppe a member, into the research activities of the Forum.
Since September 2012, the Leiden Law School’s Master program on Public International Law offers a specialized track on International Humanitarian Law. The track enables students – in addition to the general course on Protection of Victims of War (which is compulsory for all Master students in Public International Law) – to choose two specialized courses on international humanitarian law: one practicum
involving issues of humanitarian law in the context of an official competition or moot court, currently the Kalshoven IHL Competition and the ICC Trial Competition (both for a limited number of selected students) or the course Practicing International Law (default course); and one privatissimum
on Contemporary Issues in International Humanitarian Law. Furthermore, the track requires students to write their Master thesis on an issue of international humanitarian or international criminal law.
The Forum seeks to foster public debate on issues of international humanitarian law by organizing regularly panel discussions and lectures current problems and issues in this area.
As from 2011, the Forum hosted the following public events:
- On 22 September 2011, the Forum hosted the book launch of Prof. Kalshoven and Prof. Zegveld’s 4th edition of their standard textbook on international humanitarian law "Constraints on the Waging of War”, with an ensuing panel discussion on "Challenges of Contemporary Armed Conflicts and International Law” which included Judge Alphonsus Orie as a special guest, and Prof. Kalshoven, Prof. Zegveld, and Prof. Fischer as panelists.
- On 29 March 2012, the Forum hosted a panel discussion on Palestinian Statehood with Prof. Dugard, Valentina Azarov and Michael Kearny.
- On 8 November 2012, the Forum and the Volkenrechtelijk Dispuut ‘Prof. mr B.M. Telders’ hosted a panel discussion on the protection of civilians in the Syria conflict with Prof. Schrijver, Prof. Saxon, Prof. Zegveld and Dr. Heinsch.
- On 20 November 2012, the Forum and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) hosted a panel discussion on a communication from the ECCHR to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court regarding violence against trade unionists in Colombia.
- On 30 May 2013, the Forum and the the Volkenrechtelijk Dispuut ‘Prof. mr B.M. Telders’ hosted a panel discussion on cyberwarfare and international law with Prof. Gill and Colonel Dr. Ducheine.
- On 22-23 November 2013, the Forum and the Grotius Centre (in cooperation with the University of Amsterdam and the University of Glasgow) will host an expert meeting of the ILA Study Group on 'The Conduct of Hostilities and International Humanitarian Law - Challenges of 21st Century Warfare'.
Further, on 24 and 25 January 2013, Ms. Kuijt (Gieskes Fellow) and Ms. Jansen of Tilburg University organized a conference on "Humanitarian Assistance and International Law” at Leiden Law School.
International Humanitarian Law Clinic
Since 2012 the Forum offers a select number of students the opportunity to participate in the Forum’s International Humanitarian Law Clinic (IHL Clinic). The IHL Clinic allows them to work ( pro bono
) on specific projects involving issues of international humanitarian law and to gain valuable practical experience in this area. The projects are selected by the Forum in cooperation with its cooperation partners. Currently, the Forum cooperates with:
- the Netherlands Red Cross;
- the German Red Cross; and
- the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).
As such, the Forum’s IHL Clinic embodies all of the three above-mentioned objectives: research, teaching and dissemination.
In the fall of 2012, six teams initiated research on six projects in various areas of international humanitarian law. Each team consists of three students, supervised by one Leiden graduate and one Grotius fellow or associated researcher engaged in the Forum. These projects cover topics involving the use of certain means of warfare, questions of humanitarian assistance, possible war crimes in special conflict areas, as well as a variety of recent problematic issues surrounding the application and interpretation of international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.
The Forum’s pro bono
research assistants, who are all graduates of the Leiden Law School’s Public International Law Master’s Program in Public International Law are: Ms. Thyla Fontein LL.M.; Ms. Florence Hénaut LL.M.; Mr. Andreas Herzig LL.M.; Ms. Reka Hollos, LL.M.; Ms. Safi van ‘t Land LL.M.; Ms. Johanna Riggert LL.M.; and Ms. Florentine Vos LL.M.
For more information on the Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum, please contact .