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

Since 1970, 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”.

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.

Sanremo, 21 March 2020

These are difficult and uncertain times.

The current health crisis we are facing is tackling all the spheres of our lives, starting from a personal level, and extending to our family, community and professional dimensions.

We are suddenly submerged into a scenario made of constant information, statistics, bad news. We are encountering confinements and restrictions, which we don’t usually find easy to cope with and yes, also fear. This is also true in our work.

In difficult and uncertain times like these, we must look back at the foundations of our identity, and search for the assets, resources and strengths, which have made us successful throughout the years.

We evoke the foundation of our Institute, 50 years ago. We recall a group of committed professionals who, in 1970, decided to create an international forum dedicated to humanitarian issues, a space to promote dialogue for better respect and implementation of International Law. Since then, this original mandate has continued to guide our work in the promotion of International Humanitarian Law and related fields, such as International Refugee Law and Human Rights Law.

Today, we are proud to reaffirm our commitment to our mission, to our identity. Now, more than ever, we must contribute to the promotion of rights that ensure that we remain humane, fair and solidary, by upholding principles of Law.

When we reflect on our strengths, it is simple to quantify some of them. From the organization of one single event in 1970, dedicated to a handful of participants, we have grown to more than 40 courses last year alone, for hundreds of attendees from all around the world. More than 20,000 persons from almost every single country have come to Sanremo since the foundation of the Institute to benefit from an ever-growing programme of training courses, expert meetings and roundtables.

Our Institute can proudly count on the support of more than 300 members dedicated to the promotion and advancement of International Law. This number includes the representatives of our governing Council, comprised of reputable and committed professionals from different regions of the globe.

The work of the Institute is also embraced and carried on by the attentiveness and diligence of our Team, our regular staff, eager to always do more, and do it better.

These are our strengths.

Our capacity to grow into an institution with a worldwide reputation of excellence is possible because of the commitment to our mission of our members, team, governments and donors, which have allowed us to successfully undertake our initiatives and strengthen the knowledge and skills on International Law of persons from all over the world.

We know we are on the right track.

We know we are on the right track when we receive encouraging messages of support from former participants who wish us the best and look forward to returning to Sanremo for more courses and events. We know we are on the right track when governments, donors, and partner institutions reconfirm the secondment of experts and financial support to our programmes. We know we are on the right track when our team of colleagues continues to work tirelessly from their homes, liaising with participants to provide them with online support, preparing new curricula for the courses, and updating the existing sessions with the most recent developments and continuing to study to build their expertise to then teach at the workshops.

These are difficult and uncertain times for all. Let our commitment, resolve and determination to fulfil our mission, together with our work and strengths, be the contribution of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law to overcome this challenging period.

Prof. Edoardo Greppi
President of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law

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 more than 20.000 participants, representing nearly all the nations in the world.

Special Events

To celebrate the important milestone, the Institute organised a series of innovative online events, with the main aim of involving its alumni, currently active practitioners and future professionals of the international humanitarian law, refugee law and international human rights law areas. This, by developing an high-level dialogue focused on the forthcoming challenges of these branches of international law. 

Considering the 2020 peculiar global situation related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the events were held online in the form of webinars and virtual conferencesBeing able to meet the challenges caused by the worldwide outbreak, the Institute was able to engage, through these special events, around 1200 attendees.

50th anniversary concluding virtual event on "Current challenges of children protection in armed conflict"

The event intended to conclude the year of celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sanremo Institute by addressing the topical issue of children’s extremely vulnerable conditions in areas affected by armed conflict, forced displacement.

1st Sanremo Lecture on International Humanitarian Law on "Why is International Humanitarian Law Respected or Violated? An Open Agenda"

The 1st edition of the “Sanremo Lectures on IHL” was organised on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Institute with the contribution of Professor Michael Bothe and Professor Fausto Pocar, Honorary President of the Institute.

43rd Sanremo Round Table on current Issues of IHL - Opening session

The 2020 Sanremo Round Table webinar series started on Wednesday 9th September with an institutional opening session held at the “Humanitarium” – the ICRC centre for exchange and debate on humanitarian law, policy and action – in Geneva. The session was dedicated to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Institute.

"Aspectos actuales del DIH: una visión global" Evento académico en homenaje al IIHL en sus 50 años de compromiso humanitario

The first webinar on the IIHL virtual platform was held on 27th and 28th August 2020. The event was sponsored by the IIHL teaching staff of the Spanish and Portuguese courses, in honour of the Institute’s 50th anniversary, and it dealt with “Current aspects of IHL: a global vision”.

  • 26th September 1970 - The Institute's foundation

    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.

  • 1976 - First training programme on IHL

    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.

  • 1982 - First training programme on Refugee law

    Since 1982, the Institute has worked in close co-operation with the UNHCR and later on with 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.

  • 2020 - The online learning platform

    The platform offered several online courses, workshops and other online initiatives throughout this challenging year, to provide participants with the opportunity to attend live sessions, pre-recorded lectures and webinars, supported by exercises and case studies delivered by high-level international experts who regularly contribute to the training programmes of the Institute. In order to maintain the high level of interaction between facilitators and participants – the very well-known distinctive marks of the Sanremo training programmes – the platform also offers participants many opportunities to interact with trainers, particularly through dynamic Q&A slots, dedicated chats and thematic forums.

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