From 1970 to 2020: fifty years of humanitarian commitment in conflict and emergencies

In September 2020, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The Institute was established in Sanremo on 26 September 1970 as “an independent, non-profit, humanitarian organization” by a group of international lawyers to provide an international forum dedicated to humanitarian issues.

Since then the Institute has shown a constant commitment and growing enthusiasm in spreading fundamental humanitarian principles to all corners of the earth with the mission to promote dissemination, application and the development of international humanitarian law, refugee law, migration law and human rights.

Over the years, thanks to its commitment and to the eagerness of all the persons engaged in its activities, the Institute has earned the international reputation of being centre of excellence in the field of training, research and dissemination in humanitarian law and related topics, regularly organizing training programmes and international meetings of experts.

Ever since it was created, the Institute has drawn particular attention to current trends and developments in humanitarian law and related subjects, by organizing an annual international gathering that takes place in Sanremo. This event has become known in the world as the “Sanremo Round Table”.

Since 1976, the Institute, in collaboration with the ICRC, several governments and other relevant organizations, has designed and offered specific training programmes open to military and civilians, with the aim of fostering the development of knowledge of international humanitarian law. These programmes focus on delivering practical and experience-based instruction, supported by exercises and case studies thus reinforcing the participant’s understanding. The programmes also ensure a unique environment offering a diverse, challenging and stimulating international perspective where participants from all over the world can exchange views.

Since 1982, the Institute has worked in close co-operation with the UNHCR and the IOM, offering high level training on refugee and migration law to support the capacity of government and civil society officials and to increase the knowledge and skills of the participants, by developing a greater level of awareness of the law through an interactive environment enhanced by the global experience of the teaching staff and participants.

During these 50 years of very intense activity the Institute has also provided an undoubted contribution to the field of research by publishing different texts, essays, as well as the proceedings of its Round Tables, and by drafting a number of handbooks and manuals which have become works of reference on a global scale.

Fifty years of international meetings and intense training activity have created what has universally become known as the “humanitarian dialogue in the spirit of Sanremo”, attracting around 20.000 participants, representing nearly all the nations in the world.

After half a century, the Institute would like to thank the staff, all the members, instructors, collaborators, alumni and future participants for contributing to create such a unique environment in Sanremo and around the world. 

We look forward to meeting you again soon with the wish to further concur in the promotion of the respect and development of humanitarian law, refugee law and human rights at the global level.