Public International Law

The Public International (PIL) Cluster of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut currently consists of two senior researchers (Dr. Olivier Ribbelink and Dr. Christophe Paulussen LL.M. M.Phil. (coordinator)) and two junior researchers (PhD candidate Jessica Dorsey LL.M. J.D. BA. and Onur Güven LL.M.).


The four PIL researchers collectively have experience and expertise in many areas of public international law, namely:

  • the rule of law
  • the law of nations
  • state succession
  • the law and practice of the UN and other international organisations
  • space law
  • arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation law
  • collective security law
  • the legal framework of CBRN risk mitigation
  • human rights and development.

Currently, the PIL Cluster has a strong focus on:

  • international human rights law
  • counter-terrorism and human rights
  • international humanitarian law
  • international criminal law.

The Cluster also has a certain reputation to uphold in these latter fields. It has not only initiated the well-known and very successful Supranational Criminal Law (SCL) Lecture Series, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013, and the well-attended occasional lecture series of the Hague Initiative for Law and Armed Conflict (HILAC), celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2015, but it is also known for its endeavours between 2003 and 2008, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross, in drafting the international humanitarian law notion of ‘Direct Participation in Hostilities’.


The members of the Cluster have vast (inter)national networks, not only in the Dutch academic world, but also beyond. Via its lecture series, trainings, databases, projects, conferences, summer programmes and fundamental and applied research, and because of its unique place in the centre of The Hague’s international legal and political community, members of the Cluster work with high-level scholars and professionals on a regular basis, from, for instance:

Antonio Cassese Initiative for Justice, Peace and Humanity
Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Coalition for the International Criminal Court

District Court in The Hague

EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator


Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights 

Global Counterterrorism Forum

International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague

International Committee for the Red Cross

International Court of Justice

International Criminal Court

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum on International Humanitarian Law

Leiden University (Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies)

Netherlands Defence Academy

Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’

Netherlands Ministry of Defence

Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Netherlands Ministry of Security and Justice

Netherlands Public Prosecution Service

Netherlands Red Cross

Netherlands School of Human Rights Research

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Royal Netherlands Society of International Law

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

The Hague Institute for Global Justice

The Hague University of Applied Sciences

UN (various agencies and persons, including CTED and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism)
University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam Center for International Law)
University of Groningen
VU University Amsterdam

Inter-university cooperation

The Cluster’s coordinator, Christophe Paulussen, is also coordinating the inter-university cooperation programme in the field of international humanitarian law and international criminal law: the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law (IHCL) Platform. For more information about this programme, see here.


Besides more academic activities, such as editing and writing books and research papers, such as the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, the journal Security and Human Rights, ICCT research papers and ICCT commentaries, see here, the Cluster is involved in various activities involving the dissemination of information related to public international law. To provide a few examples:

Media outreach

PIL researchers are at the forefront of international developments as described above. They are frequently called upon by the (inter)national press to provide expert opinions on public international law-related issues, such as on new ICJ cases, on the developments in the Ukraine, on the successes and failures of the tribunals or recently, on foreign fighters. A few examples can be found here: