Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum on International Humanitarian Law wins Erasmus+ grant
Dr Robert Heinsch and his team of IHL Clinic researchers at the Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum on International Humanitarian Law have won a prestigious Erasmus+ grant for cooperation partnerships in higher education in cooperation with the IHL Clinics at Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany) and Roma Tre University (Italy).
The successful grant proposal aims at bringing together cutting-edge research, education, and training in the field of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). As one of the first steps of this three-year cooperation, the consortium partners organised their first IHL Clinic Exchange Conference from 26 to 29 June 2022 at Ruhr-University Bochum, for which 10 Leiden IHL Clinic students from the Advanced LL.M. in Public International Law were able to travel to Germany and have an intensive and stimulating exchange with their peers from the two partner universities.
The Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum and its IHL Clinic is part of the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden Law School. From November 2021 until November 2024, the IHL Clinics at Leiden University, Bochum University, and Roma Tre University will cooperate in the framework of the project ‘IHL RED’ (International Humanitarian Law - Research, Education, and Dissemination).
Objective of the IHL RED cooperation
The IHL RED project ties together cutting-edge research, education and training in the field of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Through practical legal research in the framework of IHL Clinics, students gain valuable insights into the functioning and needs of international and humanitarian organisations, international courts and tribunals, government institutions, civil society and other actors that work in conflict areas or with victims of armed conflict. In empowering students to acquire new, practically relevant competences, the IHL Clinics shape the new generation of IHL practitioners and offer them better career prospects, training them as qualified recruits ready to respond to the needs of their professional partners.
At the same time, the three academic partners engage in activities to approach the law faculties of other European universities to advance the clinical legal teaching method and further disseminate the values of IHL. Having developed and refined the methodology and tools of this form of practically-oriented and engaging pedagogy for years and being committed to the use of digital technologies, the project partners strive to aggregate these valuable resources, enhance them through collaboration and exchange, and make these materials accessible on a European scale. This includes the organisation of conferences dedicated specifically to the advancement of clinical legal teaching and training the trainers, as well as annual student exchange conferences. The first IHL Clinic Exchange Conference took place on 26-29 June in Bochum, Germany, with the participation of ten Leiden Law School students of the Advanced LL.M. In Public International Law.
Student Exchange in Germany
The Clinic Exchange Conference in Bochum followed the theme ‘IHL in Despair? IHL in Action? Perspectives and answers from military, politics, civil society and academia’. Students heard lectures, presentations and roundtable discussions, and participated in practical simulations. In addition, students had the opportunity to share their research results and learning experience, thus engaging and connecting with their peers in a direct and interactive manner. The students were accompanied by the Director of the Leiden IHL Clinic Associate Professor Robert Heinsch, and their IHL Clinic supervisors Sabrina Rewald, J.D., Adv. LL.M., and Johanna Trittenbach, LL.M. (Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies and Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum on IHL).
Current Leiden IHL Clinic research projects
In the spring term 2022, the Leiden IHL Clinic conducted two projects, for which students conducted legal research, analysis and writing in cooperation with a partner organization.
One IHL Clinic project considered business and human rights law, and was conducted in collaboration with the partner organisation Global Rights Compliance, a The Hague-based Foundation and global legal partnership of human rights and IHL advisors. The project culminated in the production of the ‘Guide on Access to Remedy for Victims of Extractive Industry Companies in Conflict-affected and High-risk Areas’.
The second project conducted by the Leiden IHL Clinic in spring 2022 considered current dialogue among states on the manner in which IHL applies in cyberspace, entitled ‘Mapping State Opinions on the Application of International Humanitarian Law to Cyberspace’. The team worked in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) to conduct a thorough mapping of states’ opinions on the application of international humanitarian law to cyber space.
Upcoming conferences at Leiden University in 2023
In 2023, the Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum will host the next IHL Clinic Exchange Conference, bringing together students from all partner institutions and connecting them with practitioners from The Netherlands and beyond. In addition, to raise awareness and further support the establishment of IHL Clinics in Europe, a dedicated IHL Clinic Advancement Conference will be hosted. The Clinic Advancement Conference will bring together staff from other European universities with humanitarian actors and NGOs to demonstrate the mutual benefits of IHL Clinics and facilitate future cooperation. In a spirit of global-mindedness and with a desire to accelerate the impact to society in promoting the values of IHL, the conference facilitates a network between academia and experts from practice.