Message from President Edoardo Greppi on the COVID-19 emergency

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.

Sanremo, 21 March 2020

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