The Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum on International Humanitarian Law provides a platform within the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies for research, teaching and further dissemination of international humanitarian law. Additionally, the Forum offers students the opportunity to participate in an international humanitarian law clinic to work on projects of partner institutions in the field.
The Forum was established in 2011 and named after Frits Kalshoven, Professor Emeritus of public international law and international humanitarian law at Leiden Law School (1967-1989), and the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund. The Forum is directed by Associate Professor Dr. Robert Heinsch.
The core objective of the Forum is to provide a neutral platform for the research, teaching and further dissemination of international humanitarian law (IHL). By doing this, it aims to create better protection and assistance for victims of war and more respect for humanity in armed conflicts and crisis situations. The Forum aims to help alleviate the suffering of individuals in armed conflicts and to bring more humanity to these special situations of violence. The Forum focusses on promoting and strengthening the respect for IHL and its implementation in national law. Furthermore, it supports initiatives to enforce IHL and increases accountability for perpetrators of IHL violations.
These objectives are pursued by the following measures and components of the Forum:
- IHL Clinic
- IHL Master Specialization & Summer School
- IHL Dissemination
- IHL Research
One of the main goals of the Forum is to provide young lawyers and researchers the opportunity to conduct research in the field of IHL, to apply theory to practice, and spread the knowledge and expertise of IHL. The activities of the Forum should enable them to develop their legal, writing and team working skills. The Forum aims to facilitate the step from theory to practice, by creating and soliciting opportunities for internships, traineeships and PhD positions. In doing this, the Forum also aims to support other organizations and clients in the humanitarian field who do not have their own research capacity or infrastructure. On the long term, the Forum aims to become an academic centre of excellence in the area of IHL, independently writing and publishing expert opinions and reports, as well as initiating practical and academic expert processes. These objectives are to be achieved by offering students lectures on the theoretical content of IHL as well as practical workshops which offer training in order to provide for and improve the skills needed in the workplace. They are also given the opportunity to participate in an IHL Clinic to conduct research and work on projects of partner institutions in the field and thereby apply their skills. Furthermore, public debate on issues of IHL is fostered by hosting various public lectures, panel discussions, and book launches on current topics relating to armed conflict and crisis situations and the support of people in need. In the long term, the Forum aims to build a database of research, information and know-how.
The Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum envisages a world in which there is:
- Broad awareness of IHL rules and standards
- Widespread commitment to respect and adhere to IHL
- Implementation of IHL in national law
- Training on IHL in military settings
- National and international accountability for IHL violations
- Protection and humanitarian assistance to victims of armed conflict
- Prevention and alleviation of human suffering
Training of Future International Lawyers
In order to implement this vision, the Forum focuses its efforts on educating the next generation of international lawyers. Motivating and supporting young individuals in their endeavours to reach similar objectives begins with education and training.
The Forum therefore primarily offers an IHL specialisation through the IHL track of the regular LL.M. programme as well as the IHL Clinic to put theory of IHL into practice. Students (after completing their specialized track in IHL and the IHL Clinic) also have the ability to become a Student Assistant to the Forum, a Guest Research (pro bono) or a Project Coordinator (pro bono). In furtherance of this, young international lawyers can ultimately pursue a PhD research at the Forum or intern at one of the partner organisations of KGF Leiden like the Netherlands Red Cross, the German Red Cross, the ICRC, and Amnesty International. Through this multiple-step approach, students additionally become part of an exclusive network and they can interact directly with practitioners and academics in the field of IHL.