The International Institute of Humanitarian Law is an independent, “non-profit, humanitarian association having social values as its objectives”, founded in 1970 in Sanremo, Italy.
Its headquarters are situated in the wonderful Villa Ormond.

The main purpose of the Institute is to promote international humanitarian law and related subjects.
According to the Statutes, the Institute takes initiatives and carries out activities of a practical and multidisciplinary character, in particular, by organising courses, training programmes and advanced studies in the fields of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, refugee law and many related issues, as well as by promoting dialogue with a view to fostering better respect and implementation of international law through the organisation of international conferences, multilateral meetings and seminars involving scholars and practitioners.

Thanks to its specific, well-tested experience, the Institute has earned an international reputation as a centre of excellence in the field of training, research, and the dissemination of all aspects of international humanitarian law and many related subjects.

Considering the aims it pursues, the Institute works in close collaboration with the most important international organisations dedicated to the humanitarian cause, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Furthermore, it has close operational relationships with, among others, institutions like the European UnionUNESCONATO, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

In September 2020, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law celebrates 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 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.

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.

The 50th anniversary of the Institute

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.

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 conferences. Being able to meet the challenges caused by the worldwide outbreak, the Institute was able to engage, through these special events, around 1200 attendees.