The Forum seeks to stimulate and coordinate research within the Grotius Center in the field of international humanitarian law with a specific focus on:

1. The conduct of hostilities in modern warfare and the prosecution of war crimes in national and international fora (Dr. Robert Heinsch), the use of gender stereotyping in international criminal law (Ms. Christine Tremblay), and the status of war crimes under customary international law (Ms. Yudan Tan).
2. International humanitarian law in relation to human rights law and terrorism (Prof. Helen Duffy).
3. Humanitarian assistance and development (Prof. Horst Fischer).

Research Assistance & Coordination 

Because of the growing activity of the Forum, Dr. Heinsch is assisted by a PhD Fellow (Ms. Sofia Poulopoulou, LL.M.), a guest researcher (Mr. Louis Léonet), a student assistant (Ms. Lotte Chevalier), and two student fellows (Mr. David Köller and Mr. Øyvind Ege). To stimulate research initiatives in the area of International Humanitarian Law and coordinate the research activities of the Forum’s members, Dr. Heinsch initiated the “Kalshoven-Gieskes research group” within the staff group of Leiden University which is now meeting on a regular basis in order to discuss current research issues in the area of international humanitarian law, and discuss possibilities to further develop the outreach of the Forum.

Research Group Meetings

The Forum has regularly hosted research group meetings with Grotius fellows and a select number of associated researchers and professors, including Dr. Giulio Bartolini, Dr. Emilia Richard, Dr. Cassandra Steer, Mr. Jeroen van den Boogaard, LL.M., and Mr. Rogier Bartels, LL.M., as well as alumni from Leiden Law School’s LL.M. Program in Public International Law. The research group discusses current research and developments in international humanitarian law.

ILA Study Group 

In addition, the Forum is involved in the organization of the International Law Association’s Study Group on “The conduct of hostilities under international humanitarian law – challenges of 21st century warfare”. In 2011, The Study Group was initiated by Prof. Terry Gill (Amsterdam University), Prof. Robin Geiss (Glasgow University) and Dr. Robert Heinsch. After its first meeting in Sofia in 2012, the Study Group conducted a workshop in Leiden in November 2013, where three general topics were explored: the relationship of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law in the conduct of military operations; technological challenges posed by new weapons systems; and the function of the basic principles of IHL in the conduct of hostilities. An interim report on these topics was published and presented at the April 2014 Washington D.C. joint meeting of the ILA and the American Society of International Law. These topics were discussed further at a subsequent workshop held in Berlin at the Freie Universität in November of the same year. Three working groups were established in Berlin to prepare working papers for the next meeting to be held in Oslo on 19-20 October 2015. At the Oslo meeting, which was hosted by the Norwegian Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the three working papers were thoroughly discussed and subsequently formed the basis for the final report of the Study Group. On 11 August 2016, the final report was presented by Prof. Robin Geiss and Dr. Robert Heinsch during the 77th ILA conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, and will be published later in 2016.