Spreading international humanitarian law

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) contains the body of rules that seeks to limit the humanitarian consequences of armed conflict. This law protects the life, health and dignity of persons who do not or no longer participate in an armed conflict. This includes civilians, but also, for example, medical personnel and other groups. The law also restricts or prohibits the use of certain weapons and methods in armed conflict. 

The international Red Cross movement occupies a key position in the development and dissemination of these rules. Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, signed by 196 countries, International Committee of the Red Cross has the unique mandate as an independent and neutral organization to provide protection and assistance to victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. Additionally, the National Red Cross Society in each country, as an auxiliary to the government, assumes the role of disseminating and promoting information and knowledge about international humanitarian law. Belgian Red Cross-Flanders also assumes this core task.

We take this role actively by...

  • Disseminate knowledge and information through training. For example, we organize an annual series of classes covering basic topics, we organize a moot court competition (Frits Kalshoven Competition), and so on. So be sure to keep an eye on our trainings and events if you are interested.

  • Create awareness through public campaigns and media publications.

  • Support policy makers in the development and implementation of international humanitarian law.

Our trainings and events

Frits Kalshoven Competition

The Frits Kalshoven Competition is entering its 17th edition and is once again organized by Belgian Red Cross-Flanders in cooperation with the Netherlands Red Cross. This moot court competition on international humanitarian law is open to law students.

The purpose of this competition is to familiarize students with international humanitarian law by offering lectures and to fuel their oral and argumentative competencies through role-playing and an advocacy competition.

The competition is open to teams of 3 and the language of instruction is English.

The 17th edition will take place from Wednesday, March 6 to Friday, March 8, in The Hague, Netherlands.

Registrations are closed.

View a compilation of previous editions

Lecture series on international humanitarian law

From April 30 to May 28, we are organizing the 26th edition of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Lesson Series. For 5 weeks, each Tuesday evening, we will cover core topics within international humanitarian law. 

The lesson series begins with an introductory presentation on the sources, scope and actors of IHL. Subsequent lessons further explore the protection of persons and property, the rules regarding weapons and methods of warfare, and the punishment of violations of IHL. We conclude the series with a lesson on a current topic. Each lesson focuses on concrete examples and interaction.

For each lesson, we call on experts, academics or individuals who are professionals in the concrete application of IHL. Afterwards, we count on participants' active input to initiate a Q&A. For the detailed program see below.


Registrations have ended

Your registration is only final after the deposit of the participation fee on account number: BE24 7310 1827 1438 of vzw Belgian Red Cross-Flanders Internationaal, mentioning 'NAME+FORNAME +LESSENREEKS 2024'.

Registration is open through April 22 or until seats are filled.

If cancelled up to 2 weeks before the start of the training (on April 16) we will refund you the full registration fee. For cancellation 1 week before the start of the Lesson Series, half of the registration fee will be refunded. For cancellation less than 1 week before, no refund can be provided.


  • When. Five Tuesday evenings on April 30, 7, 14, 21 and 28 May from 7 to 9 p.m. 
  • Where. The classes on April 30, May 7, 14 and 22 will take place online via MS Teams. The class on May 28 will take place in Brussels: BIP Meeting Center - Lokettenzaal - Koningstraat 2-4, 1000 Brussels (near Brussels Central Station).

Certificates and approvals

  • Participation Certificate: All participants will receive a certificate of participation based on their attendance which will be recorded by the organization team.
  • Recognition Order of Flemish Bars: The course was recognized for legal points for participating lawyers by the Order of Flemish Bars.
  • Recognition Institute Judicial Training: The training was recognized by the Institute Judicial Training (for magistrates and judicial staff).



  • Lesson 1: Introduction to IHL - April 30 - 7-9 p.m.

    Floor Van den Eijnden, IHR staff member at Belgian Red Cross-Flanders

    This general presentation provides an introduction to IHL. After a brief description of the genesis of IHL, the scope, the actors involved and the basic rules of this branch of law are discussed. Furthermore, it looks at how human rights and IHL relate to each other. All this is illustrated through recent examples.

  • Lesson 2: Protection of persons and property under IHL - May 7 - 7-9 p.m.

    Sebastiaan Van Severen - Legal Advisor International Law at Ministry of Defense

    In this lesson, we take a closer look at the protection of persons and property in situations of armed conflict. What does IHL say about the protection of civilian populations, persons on the run, aid workers, and prisoners? How are civilian infrastructure, nuclear power plants, and cultural patrimony protected? We illustrate an overview of the main rules of IHL with the help of some current situations. Finally, we also consider the role the Red Cross assumes on protection. 

  • Lesson 3: The means and methods of warfare - May 14 - 7-9 p.m.

    Karel Peeters - Legal Advisor at Ministry of Defense

    IHL contains provisions regarding the means and methods of warfare. In any armed conflict, there are limits to what means and methods that may be used by the warring parties. During this class we will go over the applicable rules and principles governing these. It looks at how these obligations are put into practice during the planning and execution phase of contemporary military operations. All this will be based on practical examples from contemporary conflicts.

  • Lesson 4: The punishment of IHL violations - May 21 - 7 to 9 p.m.

    Christine Van den Wyngaert - Professor emeritus University of Antwerp

    What about compliance and punishment for IHL violations? This is a common question. In this session, we will explore this further through a brief analysis of relevant treaties such as the Geneva Conventions. These, for example, oblige States Parties to identify and punish perpetrators in cases of grave violations of IHL. The responsibility and monitoring of this compliance is a shared responsibility between nation states and its courts and tribunals and international bodies and courts. Here, the Belgian framework of punishment for violations of IHL will be highlighted, as well as the international landscape. This interaction between international and national bodies will also be explored in more detail. 

  • Lesson 5: Topical Theme: Protecting the Natural Environment - May 28 - 7-9 p.m.

    Anemoon Soete - FWO post-doctoral researcher and lecturer UGent

    Fatima El Kaddouri - Legal Counsel at International Committee of the Red Cross - Brussels Delegation 

    Under IHL, the natural environment is protected from extensive, long-term and serious damage. This protection includes the prohibition of the use of means and methods of warfare designed to cause damage to the natural environment in such a way as to endanger the health or survival of the civilian population. This section discusses the protection of the environment, whether/and under what circumstances nature may lose its protection. In addition, the intersection between IHL, international human rights law as well as international environmental law is explored. A link is made to the ecocide concept and recent developments around it.

Learn more: humanitair.recht@rodekruis.be


How can you help?

Attend training and help ensure further dissemination

Keep an eye on our trainings & events if interested.

Become an IHR intern/volunteer

  • Do you have knowledge of international law and a basic understanding of international humanitarian law?
  • Do you speak English and French fluently?
  • Would you like to support our service, both logistically and in terms of content?

Then keep an eye on our job openings and who knows, maybe you'll be joining us for an internship soon.

Evaluations & management responses

Our operation is partly funded by project funding. We publish the mid-term and final evaluation reports here: