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 Villa Ormond.

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

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). It has operational relations with the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Our History

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.

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.

The structure

The Institute is composed of six statury bodies namely the General Assembly, the President, the Council, the Executive Board, the Secretary-General and the Treasurer.

Members of the Institute are of different nationalities. They are persons that have particularly distinguished themselves through competence or activities in fields of specific interest to the Organisation. Institutions significantly contributing to the work of the Institute may also be admitted as members. Qualified persons and academic institutions, as also nations and international intergovernmental organisations contributing to the activities of the Institute, may be admitted as Associate members but may not vote.

The General Assembly, including all Members of the Institute, establishes the general policy of the Institute. It meets in an ordinary session each year to approve the annual budget and final accounts.

The Council is composed of twelve members elected by the General Assembly for a period of four years, each of whom may be re-elected for a total period of twelve consecutive years. The Council oversees the management of the Institute, determining the programme of activities, elects the President and Vice-Presidents and appoints the Secretary-General and Treasurer, who then form the Executive Board.  The Municipality of Sanremo and the Italian Red Cross are ex officio members of the Council of the Institute.

The President is elected by the Council every four years and may be re-elected for a second consecutive term up to a maximum of eight consecutive years. The President is the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute and has the primary responsibility to ensure that the Institute pursues its purpose and objectives in conformity with the Statutes and the general policy established by the General Assembly. Current President of the Institute is Lt. Gen. (retd) Giorgio Battisti.

The financial resources of the Institute include membership fees, course participant fees, voluntary contributions of Governments, Institutions or Organisations, and subsidies, bequests or donations. The financial resources of the Institute are modest if compared with the extent of its commitment and activity in a field of increasing interest to the international community.


The Institute has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the participatory status with the Council of Europe.

The Institute is member of the NATO Partnership Training and Education Centres.

During almost fifty years of activities the Institute has concluded several agreements of cooperation, either for specific projects or long-terms collaborations,  with Governments, international organizations,  military institutions, research centers and universities from different regions of the world.