[HILAC Lecture] The Red Sea crisis: assessing the international legal and maritime security implications

20 March 2024
  • Starts at: 14:30h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: Online
  • Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, HILAC, International Humanitarian and Criminal Law (IHCL) Platform
  •   Register

Since 19 November 2023, the Houthis, a non-state armed group based in Yemen, have carried out over 30 attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Red Sea, which connects the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal, is a vital trade route, with an estimated 12% of global trade passing through it each year. In response to the Houthis’ actions, a coalition of states, including the United States and United Kingdom, has carried out air and missile strikes against Houthi targets.

This fast-developing situation raises numerous critical questions regarding regional and worldwide maritime security, as well as the relevance and application of international law. For example, are the Houthis’ attacks a novel threat for maritime security, or are there historical precedents? Furthermore, how should the Houthis’ actions, and the military responses, be assessed under international law? In addition, to what extent is the freedom of navigation, a fundamental principle of the international law of the sea, jeopardised by the Houthis’ actions?

This HILAC lecture will critically explore these questions and more with a selection of expert speakers. Following a moderated discussion, the floor will be opened for Q&A with the online audience. 

Watch the lecture:



  • Professor Robert McLaughlin (Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security)
  • Dr. Sofia Galani (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens)
  • Mr. Timothy Walker (Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria)
  • Captain Dr. Martin Fink (Royal Netherlands Navy / University of Amsterdam)


  • James Patrick Sexton (T.M.C. Asser Instituut)
  • Phoebe Mullis (T.M.C. Asser Instituut)

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 organized 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.