International Institute of Humanitarian Law – IIHL


The International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL) in Sanremo is a private, independent and non-profit organization, whose primary and fundamental objective is to promote the application of the principles of humanitarian law, develop and disseminate them, also contributing to the safeguarding and respecting human rights in the world. In Sanremo , where it was created in 1970, the IIHL has its official headquarters in Villa Nobel , owned by the Province of Imperia, and its operational headquarters in Villa Ormond , owned by the municipality. The Institute is joined by eminent scholars, mainly jurists, from over forty countries from the various geopolitical areas of the world. It includes the Liguria Region, the Province of Imperia, the Municipality of Sanremo, the Italian Red Cross and the Order of Malta. The IIHL structure is made up of the General Assembly of members, a Governing Council, an Executive Committee and various Study Commissions. The Assembly defines the general lines of the Institute’s action and elects the members of the Council. The Council presides over the administration and work programs and provides for the formation of the study commissions. The election of the President, the Vice Presidents and the Secretary General, who make up the Executive Committee, is up to the Council. The Secretary General is responsible for the ordinary management of business as a permanent body. Sanremo claims on the international level, for the reasons set out above, a sure pacifist and humanitarian vocation, which is linked to the existence and activity of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law which, born with modest means but with a strong ideal aspiration, it has developed a lot thanks to the essentially voluntary commitment of managers and collaborators.

Diplomats, scholars, government experts and officials of international bodies converge in Sanremo for meetings and working meetings on the major problems that afflict humanity: the wars that are fought in various parts of the world, the forced exodus of entire populations, calamities natural. From the intense perception of these problems, reflection on possible solutions develops and the search, in a spirit of concreteness, of new perspectives and suitable means to prevent such painful events or at least to alleviate the sufferings of the victims. Thus Sanremo makes its contribution, modest but significant, to the pursuit of the great objectives of the international community: solidarity among peoples, the maintenance of peace or at least the containment of war violence, humanitarian assistance and the protection of refugees, prohibition of torture in all its forms, child protection, international relief actions.

At the basis of such a rapid and vast affirmation of the Institute there are many elements: full ideological and political independence, which allows a free and open comparison of different opinions and tendencies; the spirit of service to the world community and the institutions that represent it; the universalist perspective in which problems are studied and discussed; the passionate and efficient volunteer profession.

The International Institute of Humanitarian Law works in close collaboration with the International Red Cross Movement. It is recognized in the United Nations system as an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council and the Refugee High Commissioner. A similar statute is attributed to it by the Council of Europe. He is allowed to entertain official relations with UNESCO. In 1987 he was proclaimed “Peace Messenger” by the Secretary General of the United Nations; moreover, in order to follow the activities of the international humanitarian organizations based in Geneva and to be in contact with the Missions of the Governments present there, the Institute has a Liaison Office in Geneva.

The Institute also collaborates with national and international non-governmental organizations operating for the affirmation and defense of humanitarian principles, with public and private organizations directly involved in humanitarian actions, with universities and academic institutions. The work of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law takes place through specialized teaching and training programs, conferences, seminars and meetings of experts, research and publications.

The IIHL aims to extend its teaching activity to all sectors of humanitarian law, with the aim of promoting a wider knowledge and application of the principles of this subject and aims to develop educational projects in this field and to encourage the teaching of humanitarian law in universities. Related to this perspective is the Project, developed a few years ago by the IIHL, for the creation in Sanremo of an international center for the training of humanitarian action cadres. This project, presented to the Municipality of Sanremo and to the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has not been followed up until now due to lack of the necessary funding.

Research is another important area of activity of the IIHL. Among the numerous issues addressed, the relations between international humanitarian law and human rights, forced displacements of populations, the protection of refugees in situations of armed conflict or serious internal political tension, the guiding principles for the protection of people in states of calamities, the results of which have been collected in a series entitled Collection of Publications.

The Institute organized the “Nobelian Peace Day” on 3 September 1986 which had a markedly international character due to the participation of political and diplomatic personalities, scholars and experts from all over the world and heads of international organizations, gathered in Sanremo to the congress “Peace and Humanitarian Actions” organized by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law under the high patronage of the President of the Republic. Forty-one countries represented. Present the United Nations, with the various specialized agencies (FAO, UNESCO, Refugee High Commissioner, International Labor Office, and others), and numerous other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including in particular Caritas, the International Commission of Jurists , Amnesty International, the International Social Service and the international Red Cross movement. Six of these organizations have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Such a remarkable level of participation was matched by the very high tone of the interventions, which were also aimed at a clear identification of problems and concrete proposals. The representative of the Swedish government, Ove Bring, head of the legal service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took the floor and recalled the Nobelian pacifist message, signaling its permanent relevance.



IIHL – International Institute of Humanitarian Law

  • Address: Cavallotti 113 Sanremo (IM)
  • Official site:
  • Telephone: +39 0184541848

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