International Humanitarian Law

Konferenz, Roma

Entrance: Via Liguria 20
Traduzione simultanea in italiano




Entrance: Via Liguria 20
Traduzione simultanea in italiano

Conference on multilateral diplomacy and future warfare

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the Istituto Svizzero and the Swiss Embassy in Italy invite, in collaboration with the University Roma Tre and The University of Geneva, the Roman public to a discussion about both the achievements and the challenges in current international humanitarian law (IHL). The DISPUTE series provides a platform for citizen engagement relating to the globalization and the future of contemporary societies. Proposing a new topic every year, the forum aims to strengthen civic participation and public debate.

This year’s edition puts the role and relevance of the IHL up for debate. Featuring politicians, scholars, representatives of states, armed forces, the Red Cross Movement and non-governmental activist groups, interested citizens have the chance to participate in an informed discussion with experienced specialists who can give a clear idea of what IHL is, what it does, and what its challenges for the future are. The conference will be accompanied by two commentators, whose role is to highlight important themes and arguments in wrap-up sessions following each panel.

The conference will focus on three different fields of interest:

Multilateral diplomacy and IHL: does it still work?

During the last decades, multilateral diplomacy has not always been effective despite sustained efforts of the international community to develop new international instruments in order to face current and upcoming challenges in IHL. The trend in favor of unilateral solutions and the shifting of priority from international concerns to national interests is noticeable in a number of States.

Inherent features of IHL render law-making in this domain particularly difficult. For instance, various actors are involved in contemporary armed conflicts, such as organized armed groups or international organizations and accommodating their perspectives in a State-centric international system remains a challenge.

Against this backdrop, the DISPUTE series will offer the opportunity to panelists and the audience to reflect on possible venues to enhance and continuously ensure effective protection to victims of armed conflicts. Furthermore, the session will explore the continued relevance of the Geneva Conventions and other multilateral IHL treaties highlighting best practice examples from armed conflict situations.

 Lights and shadows: how is IHL interpreted and applied?

Two panels will focus on selected challenges that have arisen in recent armed conflicts. Particular attention will be paid to non-international armed conflicts and related issues pertaining to non-state actors as well as to the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflicts. Discussions will not only demonstrate the complexity of IHL application and humanitarian action in armed conflicts but also give a picture of the global community’s handling of these complexities.

The future of warfare: what set of rules do we need?

The third session concerns new technologies and their potential impact on the future of warfare. The rapid development of technologies and artificial intelligence with potential military applications may radically change the face of armed conflicts. Drones are increasingly used, cyberspace has emerged as a new battlefield, and automated weapons systems such as combat robots may be defining future wars. At the same time, modern technologies can improve the application of IHL and the enforcement of such rules in case of violations. These changes have not only ethical implications but also pose legal and practical problems to IHL.

The conference is free and is only upon registration. To sign up please send an email to prenotazioni@istitutosvizzero.it

A simultaneous translation in English-Italian will be provided.

22.11.2019 – Day 1

H15:00 Welcome Address
Joëlle Comé (Director Istituto Svizzero)
Rita Adam (Ambassador of Switzerland in Italy, Malta and San Marino)
Andrea Silvestri (Cons. Amb., Servizio per gli affari giuridici, del contenzioso diplomatico e dei trattati)


H15:30 Multilateral Diplomacy (moderated by Gloria Gaggioli, University of Geneva)
Fausto Pocar (Sanremo Institute), Academic Perspective
Valentin Zellweger (Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN), State Perspective
Steven Hill (Legal Adviser NATO), IO Perspective
Els Debuf (Deputy Head for Europe ICRC), ICRC Perspective
Noam Lubell (University of Essex), Developing New Guidelines for Investigating IHL Violations
H16:20 Moderated round-table discussion with panelists and Q&A for audience
H17:20 Break


H17:45 Best Practice in IHL
Giulio Bartolini (Roma Tre), The Continued Relevance of the Geneva Conventions and other Multilateral IHL Treaties: Success Stories and the Application of IHL
H18:00 Wrap-up session with Barbara Contini (Italian Red Cross) and Yves Daccord (general director, ICRC)


H18:35 Networking Aperitif



23.11.2019 – Day 2

H11:00 Non-State Actors (moderated by Giulio Bartolini, Roma Tre University)
Marco Sassòli (University of Geneva), The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts
Emanuela-Chiara Gillard (University of Oxford), Some reflections on the application of international humanitarian law to non-state armed groups
Sandra Krähenmann (Geneva Call), Engaging with Non-State-Actors
H11:30 Moderated round-table discussion with panelists and Q&A for audience
H12:30 Wrap-up session with Yves Daccord (general director, ICRC)
H13:00 Break


H14:30 Cultural Heritage (moderated by Kristin Hausler, British Institute of International and Comparative Law)
Roger O’Keefe (University Bocconi), Cultural Heritage and International Humanitarian Law: From Atrocity to Capacity
Alberto Deregibus (Arma dei Carabinieri), The Blue Helmets for Culture Initiative
Maria Teresa Jaquinta (ICCROM), The International Response in Emergency for Cultural Heritage: ICCROM’s Action
H15:00 Moderated round-table discussion with panelists and Q&A for audience
H16:00 Wrap-up session with Yves Daccord (general director, ICRC)
H16:30 Break


H17:00 Future Warfare (moderated by Jean-Marc Rickli, GCSP)
Marco Roscini (University of Westminster), Prospects for a future regulation of ‘cyber warfare’
Kaja Ciglic (Microsoft), The Role of New Technologies in Armed Conflicts
Neha Jain (European University Institute), Accountability for violations of international humanitarian law
H17:30 Moderated round-table discussion with panelists and Q&A for audience
H18:30 Wrap-up session with Yves Daccord (general director, ICRC)
H19:00 Final debate


Click here for the full biographies.

Humanitarian Principles. Here and Now.

The conference is complemented by Humanitarian Principles. Here and Now., a contemporary art installation that aims to give the visitors a better understanding and deeper insight into the significance that Humanitarian Principles have in everyday life.

As part of a collaboration with Swiss Humanitarian Aid and in conversation with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Musée de l’Elysée gave a carte blanche to ten artists from French-speaking Switzerland to create a new film, sharing their vision of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality and Independence. The result raises in-depth reflections on complex issues facing humanitarian operations through the art of photography.

With Rebecca Bowring, Mark Henley, Cyril Porchet, Laurence Rasti, Virginie Rebetez, Manon Wertenbroek, Caroline Etter, Yann Gross, Sarah Carp, and Mathieu Bernard-Reymond.