[HILAC Lecture] Expert manuals in international humanitarian law

26 September 2022
  • Starts at: 16:00h
  • Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
  • Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, HILAC, International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform
  • Address: R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22
    2517 JN The Hague
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Join us for a HILAC Lecture series discussion on the role of  "expert manuals" in the interpretation and development of international humanitarian law on 26 September 202at the Asser Institute. The lecture launches the new volume of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law (YIHL) which focuses on this topic. The launch will be followed by a farewell reception to celebrate the important contribution of the YIHL’s former Editor-in-Chief, Professor Terry Gill.

The role of “expert manuals” in international humanitarian law

The special theme of this volume of the YIHL takes a close look at the role of so-called "expert manuals" in the interpretation and development of international humanitarian law and connected branches of international law relating to military operations. While these manuals can and do play an undoubtedly useful role, their proliferation raises a number of questions. What degree of authority do they have and how much weight should be given to the views expressed in them? What is the methodology they employ and how effective is it in ensuring an as objective and impartial interpretation of the law as possible? What is their place in the doctrine of sources? The launch of YIHL’s volume 23 aims to further explore these questions through a discussion with two of the authors that contributed to this volume and who were involved in one or more of these manuals in one capacity or another.

Organised in cooperation with the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law (IHCL) Platform. 


About the speakers


Dr Heather A. Harrison Dinniss is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for International and Operational Law at the Swedish Defence University. Heather’s research focuses on the impact of modern warfare on international humanitarian law; in particular, emerging military technologies such as cyber warfare, advanced and autonomous weapons systems, and the legal aspects of human enhancement techniques in the armed forces. She is the author of Cyber War and Laws of War (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Heather has served as a member of advisory groups to the Swedish Government on autonomous weapons systems & cyber operations, a member of the ILA’s Study Group on Cyber Terrorism and International Law (2014-2016), and as a core expert for two projects to establish Manuals on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS (2016-18) & Woomera (2018-)).


Alfons Vanheusden is a Senior Legal Advisor (Adviseur-generaal/Conseiller général) at the DG Legal Support of the Belgian Ministry of Defence, and a Naval Reserve Officer (Corvette Captain). Furthermore, he serves as the Assistant Secretary-General of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War. Earlier in his career, Alfons served as Director of Legal Affairs at the Cabinet of the Belgian Minister of the Interior; as Director of the Legal Advisory Division of the DG Legal Support of the Ministry of Defence; as Multilateral Affairs & Human Rights Advisor to the Belgian Minister of Justice; as Director of Legal Affairs at the Cabinet of the Belgian Minister of Defence; as Legal Advisor for international affairs at DG Legal Support of the Belgian Ministry of Defence; and as attorney-at-law in a private law firm. From 2002 to 2008, he was also the Chairman of the Belgian Committee for Legal Review of New Weapons. Alfons saw operational service as a Legal Advisor in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and in Afghanistan (ISAF). As guest lecturer, he taught public international law in Brussels from 2004 to 2012, first at the Royal Higher Institute for Defence and later at the Royal Military Academy. Alfons studied law at K.U. Leuven and at National University of Ireland, Galway. Furthermore, he is a graduate of the National Security Law Institute organised at the University of Virginia (United States), and of the ‘Hautes Etudes de Sécurité et Défense’ organised by the Royal Higher Institute for Defence and the Egmont - Royal Institute for International Relations. He is one of the co-editors of the ‘Leuven Manual on the International Law Applicable to Peace Operations’ (CUP, December 2017) and its recent French version, the ‘Manuel de Leuven sur le Droit Applicable aux Opérations de Paix’ (Bruylant, 2021).

About the HILAC lecture series
The Hague Initiative for Law and Armed Conflict (HILAC) Lecture Series is an occasional lecture series on the subject of law and armed conflict organised by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut since 2005, in cooperation with the Netherlands Red Cross and the Amsterdam Center for International Law, and held at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut.

About the IHCL Platform
The International Humanitarian and Criminal Law (IHCL) Platform is an academic network in the field of IHL and ICL, established in 2010. It currently consists of representatives from the T.M.C. Asser Instituut (which coordinates the Platform), the University of Amsterdam (in particular the Amsterdam Center for International Law), VU University Amsterdam, Leiden University (in particular the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies), the University of Groningen, the Netherlands Defence Academy, Tilburg University, Maastricht University, the Institute for International Law of the KU Leuven, Utrecht University, the Ghent Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute of Ghent University, the University of Antwerp, the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Royal Military Academy of Belgium.

About the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law
The Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law is a leading annual publication devoted to the study of international humanitarian law. It provides a truly international forum for high-quality, peer-reviewed academic articles focusing on this crucial branch of international law. Distinguished by contemporary relevance, the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law bridges the gap between theory and practice and serves as a useful reference tool for scholars, practitioners, military personnel, civil servants, diplomats, human rights workers and students.