International Humanitarian Law Legal Clinic 

Logo International Humanitarian Law Legal Clinic

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Legal Clinic has been active since 2016 and engages in pro bono support activities for relevant international and national institutions operating in the area of international humanitarian law. The clinic’s goal is to allow students to engage with the legal and humanitarian challenges posed by armed conflicts and to facilitate the dissemination of the values inherent in the legal framework aimed at protecting the victims of armed conflicts. Participation in this optional course (7 ECTS credits) is open to students of Rome Tre University and foreign students involved in exchange programs (e.g., Erasmus), based on a selection process detailed in the attached file.

The Legal Clinic has collaborated on numerous projects with institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), NATO Allied Command Operations Office of Legal Affairs at SHAPE, Amnesty International Italy, the Italian Red Cross, the Centre for Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies-Disaster Law Programme (IFRC), and more. Additionally, the IHL Legal Clinic has participated in international partnership programs with other legal clinics, such as the current IHL Red (https://www.ihl-red.org/), which involves the humanitarian law clinics of Bochum, Leiden, and Rome Tre. These collaborations encompass joint projects and student exchange visits.

Collaboration can take place through detailed ‘desk studies,’ which involve analyzing legal issues relevant to these institutions regarding armed conflict situations, as well as through innovative projects utilizing digital technologies, including databases and mobile applications. For example, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Rome Tre IHL legal clinic developed an innovative database for the International Humanitarian Law in Action project (https://ihl-in-action.icrc.org). This project aims to identify and systematize concrete examples in which states or organized armed groups have correctly applied international humanitarian law in recent armed conflicts. These case-studies contain an analysis of facts and relevant legal issues and are freely available in the online database managed by the ICRC. This material is consistently used in disseminating IHL to the armed forces and civil society, demonstrating the actual relevance of these norms even in complex warlike situations, by state and non-state actors alike. In May 2018, the Director-General of the ICRC (Yves Daccord) expressed appreciation for this academic project in his statement regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflicts before the United Nations Security Council, bringing it to the attention of UN members as an example of best practices and a contribution to the dissemination of international humanitarian law. Similarly, the IHL Legal Clinic conducted two research projects for the ICRC on the Italian practice in the field of international humanitarian law, contributing to the study of Customary IHL and its related database (https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/en/customary-ihl).

One significant cooperation is with the NATO Allied Command Operations Office of Legal Affairs at SHAPE, for which IHL Legal Clinic students develop research reports on current issues in international humanitarian law, with the possibility for some students to benefit from internships at NATO Command Offices.

For the Italian Red Cross, the legal clinic has overseen the scientific component of two mobile applications, already downloaded by tens of thousands of users as part of IHL dissemination activities carried out by the Italian Red Cross. These are:

– ‘Quiz DIU,’ a series of 60 questions and answers on international humanitarian law issues, organized at different difficulty levels, allowing users to test their knowledge in this field in a user-friendly manner. This app has proven particularly useful as a complement to the training and dissemination activities of the Italian Red Cross among the armed forces and civil society (schools, universities, etc.) due to its intuitive nature and modern learning approach. Available for Android and Apple.

– ‘Codici di diritto internazionale umanitario.’ This app includes all the major treaties of international humanitarian law, facilitating their consultation as it can operate offline and through an analysis of individual provisions or the entire text. One notable feature is its multilingual function, as the documents have been uploaded in English, French, Italian, and Spanish, allowing foreign audiences to also benefit from this useful app for free.

Approximately 15 students (from Roma Tre and abroad) participate in the IHL legal clinic’s activities each year, following the selection process detailed in the attached file (selections usually take place at the end of September). The working language is English due to the international nature of the partners involved and the participating students.

Course programme Link identifier #identifier__54155-1https://giurisprudenza.uniroma3.it/insegnamento-erogato/dipartimento-di-giurisprudenza/lm/2023-2024/GIURISPRUDENZA-0580707051400001/09C0FC6A-8668-4861-9D9D-26D2C00F5E1A–20110595/
Course details Link identifier #identifier__193687-2International Humanitarian Law Legal Clinic
Professor Link identifier #identifier__59381-3Giulio Bartolini

Michele Sancioni 06 September 2023